The Mount: a motte and bailey castle
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Jan-2021 at 10:21:11.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- TL 02742 34291
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were superseded by other types of castle.
Flitwick Mount is an example of a smaller motte and bailey castle where both the major components are well preserved, and which has good archaeological and historical documentation. The location of the castle in Flitwick demonstrates the importance of the town as an administrative centre in early medieval England and illustrates the strategic role of the castle in establishing control of the area in the years following the Norman Conquest. The interior of the bailey and top of the motte will retain below-ground evidence of building remains, and the surrounding ditches contain silt deposits from which both environmental evidence and artefacts relating to the occupation of the castle may be recovered. The buried landsurface beneath the castle is of particular importance as it is thought to contain evidence of earlier Saxon occupation. The importance of the castle is further enhanced by its use as a public amenity area.
Flitwick Mount is a motte and bailey castle of figure-of-eight plan. The
motte is an oval mound 30m by 15m across and 5m high. This is located in the
western loop of the `eight' and is surrounded by a steep-sided ditch, 8m wide.
The ditch itself is 3m deep, and further defence was provided by an outer bank
which is now about 0.5m high. The motte would have supported a stout wooden
tower and palisades would have been erected around the perimeter of the ditch.
An outer court or bailey lay to the east formed by the second loop of the
`eight'. The southern defences of the bailey are visible as a continuation of
the ditch around the motte. The bailey was originally about 40m across and
the line of the buried northern defences can be recognised as a slight ridge
running round to link up with the motte on its northern side where the motte's
defences are bridged by an entrance causeway. The motte and bailey are linked
at the centre by a second causeway. Both causeways are about 5m wide. The
short length of ditch between them formed a pond which is now dry, but would
have been a source of water for the inhabitants. The bailey contained the
service quarters and stores of the garrison.
The Norman castle dates to around AD 1100 and it is thought that earlier Saxon
remains are preserved beneath the earthworks. In the 19th century the monument
was incorporated as a landscape feature within an ornamental garden, at which
time the bailey ditch was partially infilled and a small summer-house was
built on the motte. The summer-house is now demolished and leaves no visible
The surfaces of footpaths and all lamp-posts are excluded from the scheduling
although the ground beneath them 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Brown, A, Fieldwork for archaeologists and local historians, (1987)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Bedfordshire, (1908)
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Bedfordshire, Huntingdon and Peterborough, (1968)
Wadmore, B, The Earthworks of Bedfordshire, (1920)
CRO LL 4/4, (1793)
Fadden, K., SMR 228 ref.2, (1972)
pagination 187, Beds. Planning Authority Report, (1937)
Primary source for ref. 1 SMR 228, Brown, A and Taylor, C C, The Mount, Flitwick, (1980)
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