Motte and bailey castle, 90m NW of All Saints' Church
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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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:
- SK 25918 07545
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were superseded by other types of castle.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 site at Seckington survives well and is a good example of a motte and bailey castle. Important structural and artefactual information will exist beneath the ground surface within the castle providing evidence for the economy of the castle's inhabitants. The short period of occupancy and early abandonment of the site will ensure that early archaeological deposits have not been greatly disturbed by later buildings on the site. The motte and bailey castle also has a valuable 17th century description, by the historian Sir William Dugdale which allows a study of the changes to the site over the last 300 years.
The monument includes the motte and bailey castle and an area of ridge and
furrow cultivation. It is situated on the northern outskirts of the village of
Seckington and is 90m NW of All Saints' Church.
The motte and bailey castle is set in a dominant position on the highest part
of the slight ridge on which the village is situated. The motte is located at
the NE edge of the bailey and has been artificially raised. The flat-topped
motte is 9m high and measures 15m across its summit. It has a diameter of
approximately 45m at its base and is surrounded by a 20m wide ditch. The ditch
is up to 2m deep. The SW section of the motte ditch has been partly infilled,
but it will survive as a buried feature beneath the ground surface. The
southern section of this ditch separates the motte from the bailey. The bailey
is crescent-shaped and contains an area of approximately 0.25ha. It is
defended by a 10m wide ditch around the west, south and east sides. The
western section of the bailey ditch has been partly infilled. There is an
earthen bank along the inner edge of the ditch which is best preserved at the
eastern edge of the bailey. The bank in the south western sector is less
pronounced and is thought to have been levelled. Access to the motte and
bailey is currently by means of a causeway at the SE edge of the bailey and
this may mark the site of the original entrance.
During the 17th century, the historian, Sir William Dugdale, described the
motte and bailey castle in great detail, including its dimensions at this
time. This documentation has provided an important insight into the changes to
the site over the last 300 years.
To the south, east and north of the motte and bailey castle are the earthwork
remains of ridge and furrow cultivation. Aerial photographs indicate that the
motte and bailey appears to overlie the ridge and furrow illustrating the
impact of the castle on the land use of the surrounding area. A sample area,
10m wide, of ridge and furrow to the north, south and east of the castle is
included within the scheduling in order to preserve this relationship. There
is also evidence of ridge and furrow cultivation within the bailey itself. The
motte and bailey castle is considered to have been built during the late 11th
century by either the Earl of Meulan or his son, Robert, Earl of Leicester.
The castle passed to Robert's son after his death, but the family had no
further use for it and, in c.1170, the castle was sold to William de
All fence posts and electricity poles 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.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Salter, M, Castles and Moated Mansions of Warwickshire, (1992), 43
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Seckington Castle, (1947), 8
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Seckington Castle, (1947), 7
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