Castle Tower: a motte and bailey castle 100m north of Hill House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009534

Date first listed: 20-Jul-1948

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Nov-1992


Ordnance survey map of Castle Tower: a motte and bailey castle 100m north of Hill House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Buckinghamshire

District: Chiltern (District Authority)

Parish: Little Missenden

National Grid Reference: SU 92677 99674


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Castle Tower motte and bailey is unusual in its diminutive size and, though reduced by past ploughing, it survives well as a very complete example of this class of monument. Despite the past ploughing of the site, its isolation from subsequent settlement and probably short duration of occupation indicates that primary deposits will survive largely undisturbed. The monument also contains environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which it was constructed and the economy of its inhabitants. Such evidence will survive in the land surfaces sealed beneath the motte, and in buried features within the bailey.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a small motte and bailey castle situated above the north slope of a shallow valley, sited to overlook the natural valley routeway which is today followed by the course of the A413. The motte survives as a mound 27m in diameter with an average height of 1.7m. The bailey lies on the south side of the mound and is oval in plan measuring 35m north-south by 30m east- west. It is enclosed by an earthen bank 12m to 18m wide and up to 1.2m high on its exterior side and 0.3m high on its interior. There are traces of a ditch which surrounds both motte and bailey around the north-east side of the monument. This survives here as a low earthwork 4m wide and 0.4m deep; elsewhere it survives as a buried feature of similar width. There is no trace of any entrance or causeway, though this probably lay in the southern quarter of the site. The earthworks have been reduced and spread by past ploughing, unusual in that the motte as well as the bailey has been ploughed, suggesting that it was never a large mound. Though slight, the monument is a very complete example of a motte and bailey castle probably built as part of a military campaign and occupied for only a short time. The motte is likely to have been surmounted by a wooden tower, designed to create a secure vantage point, while the bailey may have been surrounded by a wooden palisade designed to provide a secure camp.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 19056

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing