Remains of the motte and bailey castle at Hinckley


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Remains of the motte and bailey castle at Hinckley
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Hinckley and Bosworth (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 42893 93876

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Hinckley castle survives as a prominent earthwork and is one of three such monuments in south west Leicestershire. Although the motte is destroyed, the bailey has considerable potential for the survival of original internal buildings while the motte ditch will retain evidence of well-preserved organic remains.


The castle is situated in the centre of the south west Leicestershire town of Hinckley, the bailey surviving as a semi-circular raised piece of ground. The northern part of the site was occupied by the motte, which has now been destroyed and is outside the area of the scheduling. The southern half of the bailey survives as a flat-topped raised area approximately 70m in diameter, rising about 10m above the surrounding land. An internal bank rises 3m above the top of the mound on the eastern side, decreasing to 2m on the south and 1m on the west. An external ditch is up to 18m wide, and water-filled on the eastern side. The castle was built by Hugh de Grantmesnil, Earl of Leicester, and is known to have been in existence by the middle of the 12th century. Historical records indicate that the castle was in decay by 1361 and that the motte was artificially lowered prior to 1811. During these works foundations of the bridge across the motte ditch were uncovered on the north side. Further building work on the north of the motte in 1976 revealed part of the ditch which was shown to contain well-preserved organic remains. The area was subsequently completely redeveloped and now houses a supermarket complex. Excluded from the scheduling are a war memorial, metalled paths, modern walls, a bridge over the ditch on the eastern side and a metalled surface covering the western ditch. The ground beneath all these features, however, 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.

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Books and journals
Liddle, P, Hinckley (note), (1976)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire, (1804)
Cantor, L, 'Transactions of the Leicestershire Arch and Historical Society' in The Medieval Castles of Leicestershire (Volume 53), , Vol. 53, (1978)
Harrold, T, 'Transactions of the Leicestershire Arch and Hist Society' in Note, , Vol. 9, ()


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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