'The Moat': a motte and bailey castle 700m west of Mayfield Heath Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of 'The Moat': a motte and bailey castle 700m west of Mayfield Heath Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Huntingdonshire (District Authority)
Kings Ripton
National Grid Reference:
TL 24831 75490

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Despite some modification by agricultural activity, `The Moat' motte and bailey is essentially well-preserved. The interior of the bailey and the top of the motte will contain below-ground evidence of building remains, whilst the ditches and buried landsurface beneath the motte contains silt deposit from which environmental evidence may be recovered.


The monument includes a motte and bailey castle which is situated on a low plateau some 3km north of the River Ouse at Huntingdon. The motte is an oval mound 3m high and measuring 24m long by 12m wide which lies to the north of the bailey. The motte is surrounded by a ditch whose outer edge is rectangular in plan and which is up to 1.5m deep. The ditch is 10m wide on three arms but the north-west arm is only 5m wide. There is an outer bank, 4m wide by 0.5m high, along the south-west, south-east and north-east arms. Although there are no surface traces of a bank on the north-west arm there is potential for the survival of below-ground evidence. A small irregularly shaped bailey 40m long by 15m wide lies on the south-east side of the motte. Although the bailey ramparts on the eastern side are considered to have been destroyed by agricultural activity the interior is intact and defences are still visible on the western and southern sides where they comprise a 0.5m high bank with a waterlogged outer ditch 7m wide by 1.5m deep. An outlet channel, 7m wide and 1.5m deep emerges from the south-west of the bailey ditch. The outer bank on the south-west arm of the motte ditch extends along the western arm of the bailey and the western edge of the outlet channel. The motte and bailey is now known as `The Moat' but on older maps is called `The Mount', helping to confirm its identification as a castle. The monument is situated at the northern end of the ancient Royal Forest of Sapley.

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


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

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Books and journals
Page, E, The Victoria History of the County of Huntingdonshire, (1926)
B H S, (1971)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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