Motte and bailey castle, 90m NW of All Saints' Church


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Motte and bailey castle, 90m NW of All Saints' Church
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 Campville. 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.

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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
Seckington, (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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