Motte and bailey castle, 30m E of St John the Baptist's 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.

Rugby (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 43820 79566

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 motte and bailey castle in Brinklow is a good example of this type of monument and it survives very well. The castle occupied a site of significant strategic importance on the Fosse Way and is associated with the campaigns of William the Conqueror. The early abandonment of the site and the lack of modern development will ensure that early archaeological deposits will survive undisturbed at the castle site. These artefactual and structural deposits will provide evidence for the economy of the castle's inhabitants.


The monument is situated to the east of St John the Baptist's Church in the village of Brinklow and includes the motte and double bailey castle and an area of ridge and furrow cultivation. The motte and bailey castle is situated in a commanding position on a short elevated ridge running east-west. It was built to command the line of the Fosse Way, a former Roman road of considerable military importance in the medieval period. The castle is surrounded and strengthened by a ditch which measures up to 18m wide. The motte is located at the eastern end of the bailey and has been artificially raised. The flat-topped motte has a diameter of 79m at its base and is 15m high. It is surrounded by a ditch, 12m wide which separates the motte from the bailey to the west. The northern section of the motte ditch has been slightly damaged by the construction of Ell Lane. To the west of the motte lies the double bailey. These two enclosures are bounded by a single ditch which is a maximum of 25m wide and up to 4m deep in places. The ditch has been partly destroyed by earth digging along the NW boundary of the site. There are earthen banks within the enclosing ditch around both baileys which rise to 3m in height at the angles. The bailey is divided into inner and outer enclosures by a ditch which is up to 16m wide. The two enclosures vary both in size and form. The inner covers an area of 0.33ha and is an irregular oblong in plan, while the outer bailey has a triangular plan and covers an area of 0.45ha. In the northern part of the outer bailey is a small mound with a diameter of 10m. Access into the castle is by means of a causeway in the central part of the outer bailey's western defences. It is aligned with the causeway between the two bailey enclosures and may mark the site of the original entrance to the castle. To the south, south east and east of the motte and bailey castle are the earthwork remains of ridge and furrow cultivation. The ridge and furrow immediately to the east and south east of the motte defines a triangular enclosure attached to the castle. There is no surface evidence of defensive earthworks in this area and it may therefore have been used for agricultural purposes. This triangular area is included in the scheduling. The ridge and furrow respects the castle defences and provides a stratigraphic relationship between the motte and bailey castle and the land use of the surrounding area. A 10m wide sample area of ridge and furrow to the east, south and south east of the castle site is included in the scheduling in order to preserve this relationship. The motte and bailey castle in Brinklow is thought to have been associated with William the Conqueror's northern campaigns in 1069. Its position on the Fosse Way and the fact that the castle is located almost halfway between the castles of Warwick and Leicester suggests that it was one of a number of castles built at strategic points on the Fosse Way. The site was in the hands of the Earl of Meulan in the late 11th century and later given to Nigel de Albany, the first of the Mowbrays. Its occupation as a castle, however, is thought to have ceased at an early period. The modern access steps at the south western corner of the castle site 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.

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire: Volume I, (1904), 361
Dugdale, W, Antiquities of Warwickshire, (1730), 218
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeologiacl Society' in Castles in Warwickshire, (1947), 4
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeologiacl Society' in Castles in Warwickshire, (1947), 4-6


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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