Castle Hill motte and ditch system, Oldcastle

Overview

Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
1012124
Date first listed:
05-Mar-1958
Date of most recent amendment:
21-Mar-1991

Map

Ordnance survey map of Castle Hill motte and ditch system, Oldcastle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District:
Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
Parish:
Oldcastle
National Grid Reference:
SJ 46808 44139

Reasons for Designation

Motte 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-bai1ey 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 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 and motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. Some 100-150 examples do not have baileys and are classified as motte castles. 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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 castle at Oldcastle is of particular importance as one of a group of early post-conquest (c.1100) mottes forming a defensive system aimed at curbing constant Welsh raids on the rich farming areas of south Cheshire. Equally important, however, was the role these sites played in imposing the new post-conquest feudal order on the area. This example illustrates well the diversity of form and size of this class of monument.

Details

The monument at Oldcastle consists of a motte castle located at a strategic position along a narrow promontory formed by a meander of Wych Brook on the England-Wales border by Fitz Hugh, Baron of Malpas. The site comprises a motte c.30m x 11m situated in a central position along the promontory. The motte is protected by a well defined system of defensive features that include 3 short traverse ditches overlooking the river to the SE of the motte, and two further ditches with adjacent banks across a narrow spur linking the promontory with meadows to the NW. Steeply wooded slopes down to the Wych Brook offer protection at the NE and SW sides of the monument. The sum of the evidence suggests that this monument is not a typical example of its type. All fencing bounding the scheduled area is excluded from the scheduling, as is the gate giving access along the narrow spur linking the meadow and promontory.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
13421
Legacy System:
RSM

Sources

Other
Capstick, B., FMW Report, (1987)
Cheshire SMR, RN 1667,
Leach, P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Motte & Bailey Castles, (1988)
Snowdon, C., AM 12, (1979)
Snowdon, C.A., AM 107, (1988)

Legal

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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