Hartshill Castle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Hartshill Castle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Warwickshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 32550 94305

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 monument survives well and is largely unencumbered by modern development. Surface irregularities within the enclosure castle indicate the position of buried features and these will retain evidence for the changing pattern of occupation of the site during the medieval and post-medieval periods. The conversion of the site from a motte and bailey to an enclosure castle in the 14th century is of particular interest. Additionally, organic material will be preserved within the seasonally waterlogged pond area to the east and this will be of value in understanding the economy of the castle's inhabitants.


The monument is situated within the village of Hartshill between the Green and the parish church of the Holy Trinity and west of Castle Road. It includes the standing and buried remains of Hartshill Castle, the site of a post-medieval house constructed within an earlier enclosure castle and parts of an associated water management system. Hartshill Castle is situated in a commanding position on a ridge running north west-south east. There are stream channels to the west and east of the castle site. It is primarily a motte and bailey castle which was altered prior to the mid 14th century to form an enclosure castle, the standing remains of which are also listed Grade II. The natural slope of the ridge has been accentuated to strengthen the castle defences on the north, west and east sides. The motte is located at the northern end of the castle site and is mostly artificial. It has a diameter of approximately 50m across its base and is surrounded by a ditch 8m wide. The ditch has been infilled but remains visible as a shallow depression around the circumference of the motte. A slight outer bank is visible at the western and northern edges of the motte. The southern ditch is now in use as a public footpath and its original depth is uncertain. The outer edge of the eastern side of the ditch has been obscured by the dumping of waste material in the 20th century. The ditch will, however, survive as a buried feature. The motte is flat-topped and there is a slight depression at its centre. The original layout of the bailey is no longer evident on the ground surface but its outer bank probably followed the top of the natural ridge. The motte and bailey castle was constructed during the reign of Henry I(1100-35) by Hugh de Handreshull. Prior to the mid-14th century the castle was refortified and a curtain wall, built of coursed, squared, Hartshill granite blocks with sandstone dressings, was added to the bailey. The enclosure castle is thought to have been constructed by John de Handreshull in c.1330. The motte was not included within the defences of the new enclosure castle and was presumably abandoned at this time. The curtain wall encloses an area of approximately 0.35ha and is a five-sided polygon in plan. The wall survives to a maximum height of approximately 3m and is best preserved on the northern, eastern and north western sides. There are cross-shaped loopholes at intervals within the fabric of the curtain wall. The southern wall is thought to have contained the gateway into the castle. The ground surface within the enclosure contains surface irregularities indicating the presence of buried features. A linear earthwork within the north western part of the castle defines the eastern edge of a raised rectangular platform. The living quarters of the castle are known to have included a hall, an accompanying kitchen and other rooms. At the north end of the castle are the standing remains of a chapel which is approximately contemporary with the refortification of the enclosure. The chapel has been constructed against the north curtain wall and is built of local quartzite with window dressings of sandstone. The east wall of the building is the best preserved and it contains a small window opening. A portion of the southern wall remains standing and includes a piscina. The remains of the chapel which are part of the castle fabric are therefore listed Grade II and are included in the scheduling. Within the north eastern corner of the enclosure castle are the ruins of a timber and brick building, the ruins of a post-medieval house constructed within the castle. The standing remains include a large brick chimney with two chamfered stone fireplaces and are listed Grade II. The house includes part of the curtain walls within its fabric and is all that is now visible of a four gabled, part timber-framed house, built in the 1560s. In c.1550 Hartshill Castle was sold to Sir Anthony Cook who leased the site to Michael and Edmund Parker in 1567. The standing and buried remains of the post-medieval house are included in the scheduling. To the north east of the enclosure castle are the earthwork remains of a retaining bank or dam. The bank is approximately 8m wide and has been constructed across the stream channel. It has been altered slightly and it is now used as a public footpath. The construction of the bank dammed the stream to form a pond area upstream to the south east. The pond is considered to have been associated with the defences of Hartshill Castle. The stream channel now flows beneath the retaining bank and the pond is only seasonally waterlogged. There is a causeway across the central part of the pond which divides the pond into two sections. The causeway is thought to have been associated with the occupation of the post-medieval house, built within the castle. The pond to the north of the causeway, its dam and the causeway itself, are included in the scheduling. The brick and timber stable building situated within the enclosure castle, the brick pathways and all fence posts are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath these features 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
The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire: Hartshill, (1947), 131
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Warwickshire, (1974), 307
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Hartshill Castle, , Vol. 53, (1928), 206
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Hartshill Castle, , Vol. 53, (1928), 206-10
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Hartshill Castle, , Vol. 53, (1928), 206-10
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeologiacl Society' in Castles in Warwickshire, (1947), 8
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeologiacl Society' in Castles in Warwickshire, (1947), 8-9
Ordnance Survey, Hartshill Castle, SP 39 SW 6, (1967)


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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