Preston Capes motte and bailey castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010661

Date first listed: 07-Oct-1954

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Jan-1992


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

County: Northamptonshire

District: Daventry (District Authority)

Parish: Preston Capes

National Grid Reference: SP 57647 54948


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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Preston Capes motte is good example of an early post-Conquest castle and is located close to a Cluniac Priory. Although the motte mound is relatively small, the earthworks are well preserved and the surrounding waterlogged ditch retains considerable potential for the survival of organic remains.


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


The earthwork remains of the motte and bailey castle at Preston Capes stand on the summit of a north facing spur on the north east side of the village. The motte consists of a conical mound over 4m high with a flat top about 27m across. The motte is surrounded on all sides except the south by a partially waterlogged ditch over 1m deep, and the land slopes steeply in a series of narrow scarps from the edge of the motte ditch. Below the motte on the north- east side, a bank up to 2m high indicates the extent of the original bailey area on that side. The part of the bailey which lay on the flatter ground to the east and south-east of the motte has been built over and archaeological remains are not thought to survive. The motte was the site of a castle built soon after the Norman Conquest, most likely by Nigel of the Count of Mortain who held Preston in 1086. The castle was certainly established by 1090 when it was recorded that Hugh de Leicester founded a Cluniac Priory adjoining his castle at Preston Capes. The site remained as the centre of the manor through the medieval period.

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: 13635

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing