Castle Hill, a motte and bailey castle and Saxon burial 50m west of Castle Hill House

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009537

Date first listed: 03-Jan-1961

Date of most recent amendment: 12-Oct-1992

Map

Ordnance survey map of Castle Hill, a motte and bailey castle and Saxon burial 50m west of Castle Hill House
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Nov-2018 at 15:58:32.

Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Buckinghamshire

District: Wycombe (District Authority)

National Grid Reference: SU 86724 93227

Summary

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 Hill motte and bailey, though modified by later landscaping, survives as a very substantial earthwork and landscape feature of considerable significance to the historical development of the area.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the remains of a medieval motte and bailey castle and the site of a Saxon burial. The motte is situated on a steep south facing slope sited to command the Wye valley to the south, a natural south-east to north-west routeway. Though little is known of the early history of the site, a castle is recorded at Wycombe as being held by Robert de Vipont, lord of the Manor of Temple Wycombe, during the reign of King John. Today the motte survives as a large mound up to 7m high and with dimensions at the base of some 110m north-east to south-west by 80m north-west to south-east. The south-eastern quarter of the mound is concave giving a crescent shape to the plan of the motte. This suggests that either the motte was not completed, or more probably, that at some point in the history of the site this part has been quarried away, possibly as part of a landscaping scheme associated with the later house. The summit of the mound is today disturbed and reduced in area, though in its original form would have been sufficiently large to support a substantial tower. A modern summer house of wood and flint construction stood on the summit until 1962 when it was removed. Surrounding the base of the mound would have been a substantial ditch from which the material for the construction of the motte was quarried; only slight indications of this are today discernible on the north and east sides of the motte. Around the north this would have cut across the main slope, isolating the motte from the higher ground to the north. A well on the lawn to the south of the present house, the most likely site for a bailey, is by tradition associated with the castle. A crescent shaped scarp around a sunken lawn and a substantial linear bank in this southern area appear to be later features associated with the house and its landscaped gardens. Finds from the area of the motte itself have included several large arrows found in 1820 and some 60 horncores. Finds recorded early in the 19th century as being made in an area to the south-east of the motte, in the vicinity of the entrance drive to Castle Hill House, included the skeleton of a man who had been buried with a necklace of glass beads, a Kentish gold pendant and an iron weapon. This is believed to have been a burial of Saxon date. All modern buildings, structures, modern boundary features and metalled surfaces are excluded from the scheduling though the ground beneath each is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 19059

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Parker, J, Early History and Antiquities of Wycombe, (1878), 4-5
Parker, J, Early History and Antiquities of Wycombe, (1878)
Renn, D F, Norman Castles in Britain, (1968)
Other
Card no 0607.00.000,
Card no SU 89 SE 15,
Museum Guide phamplet,
Pagination 197, RCHME, Bucks 1,
Pagination 917, Sheahan,

End of official listing