Conger Hill: a motte and bailey castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010059

Date first listed: 13-Dec-1929

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Sep-1994


Ordnance survey map of Conger Hill: a motte and bailey castle
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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1010059 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 22-Feb-2019 at 19:22:35.


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

District: Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Toddington

National Grid Reference: TL 01122 28905

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

The motte at Conger Hill is well preserved and although the ramparts have been altered to some extent by infilling and encroachment of adjacent buildings, a substantial area of the bailey survives. The monument retains conditions favouring the preservation of building remains in the bailey and on the motte and the recovery of environmental evidence from the fills of the ditches and from the old ground surface beneath the motte.


The monument includes a motte and bailey castle situated on a ridge of the Chilterns some 100m east of St George's Church. The motte is a steep-sided earthen mound 40m in diameter surrounded by a ditch which is between 8m and 12m in width. The ditch is about 2.5m in depth and the mound rises some 5m from the base of the ditch. The mound is conical in profile with a flattened area 20m across at the top. An irregular depression 0.3m deep at the east side of this area indicates the remains of the buildings on the motte. The motte was surrounded by an outer defended court or bailey. Although partially built over to the west and south, the eastern rampart of the bailey is still visible as a bank and outer ditch running at a north/south tangent to the motte and curving slightly to the south west. The rampart is very slight in contrast to the size of the motte but it is thought that over the years the ditch has been partially infilled with material from the bank. The bank is now 2m wide by about 0.5m high and the ditch is 6m wide by 0.5m deep. Although the extent of the bailey to the north, west and south is not proven, it is thought that the bounds of the bailey correspond approximately with the modern field boundary and that the area contained within the field west of the rampart has potential for the preservation of below-ground remains of buildings associated with the bailey. The castle is identified as the stronghold of Sir Paulinus Pegure in the 13th century. The name Conger Hill is recorded from 1597 and it has been considered that the name is a corruption of an earlier Celtic British name. The mound was used in the 16th century as a rabbit warren. There is a local Shrove Tuesday custom associated with the castle in which the village children assemble at the monument to listen for a witch frying pancakes beneath the earth. Excluded from the scheduling are the made surfaces of the asphalt footpath along the western boundary, the metalled track, the concrete slabs, the hardstanding and the shed at the north of the monument, although the ground beneath these items is included.

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.

Legacy System number: 20439

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Beresford, M, History on the Ground, (1957)
Blundell, J H, Toddington, its Annals and People, (1925)
Fisher, , Colls. History, Genealogy and Typography of Bedfordshire, (1812)
Lysons, Reverend D, Lysons, S, Magna Britannia, (1806), 43
'The Observer' in The Observer, , Vol. 03/03/63, (1963)

End of official listing