Hallaton motte and bailey castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010487

Date first listed: 26-Jun-1924

Date of most recent amendment: 20-Feb-1992


Ordnance survey map of Hallaton motte and bailey castle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Leicestershire

District: Harborough (District Authority)

Parish: Hallaton

National Grid Reference: SP 77979 96709


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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Hallaton Castle is the finest example of its type in Leicestershire. Although partly excavated, the monument survives in exceptionally good condition and will retain important environmental and archaeological evidence of the Early Norman period.


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


Hallaton Castle is situated in a prominent position on high ground which falls away on the north-east and is 0.5km west of the village of Hallaton. The main elements of the monument are a ditched motte, and an adjoining bailey enclosure to the north-west side. The conical motte is approximately 50m in diameter and 7.5m high from the bottom of the ditch, with a small flat area at the summit only a few metres across. The encircling motte ditch is up to 3m deep and 8m wide, with causeways on the south-west and south-eastern sides and a break in the ditch where the bailey joins it on the south side. The horseshoe shaped bailey encloses an area of about 60 x 30m, and is bounded by a ditch up to 2m deep and 5m wide and an inner bank up to 2m high. A break in both the ditch and bank on the north-west side indicates the position of the entrance. An additional rectangular enclosure on the north side of the motte, measuring 35 x 25m, is defined by a ditch which survives in places to a depth of 0.75m. On the south side of the motte there is a further ditch 5m wide with a bank 8m wide and 0.75m high which projects south for 40m. A series of depressions on the summit of the motte are the result of 19th century excavations when bone, pottery, leather shoes, iron articles and wooden bowls were,found. Evidence was found of iron-working in the bailey and further small scale excavations in the bailey in 1943 produced `Norman' pottery. It seems likely that the castle formed the administrative centre of an estate owned by Geoffrey Alselin and which is described in the Domesday Book. The earthworks depicted on the 1:10000 map to the immediate east of the monument are natural features.

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: 17053

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Liddle, P, Leicestershire Archaeology: The Present State of Knowledge, (1982)
Dibbin, H A, 'Transactions of the Leicestershire Arch. Society' in Hallaton Castle, , Vol. 5, (1882)

End of official listing