Dodleston motte and bailey castle


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


Ordnance survey map of Dodleston motte and bailey castle
© 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.

Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 36145 60851

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 and bailey castle at Dodleston is one of a group of early post-Conquest (c.1100) motte and bailey castles forming a defensive system, the aim of which was to curb Welsh raids on the rich farming areas of Cheshire. Its earthworks are well preserved and the monument will retain considerable detail of its original form and the buildings which lay within it. Organic material will also be preserved within the waterlogged areas of the ditches.


The monument is Dodleston motte and bailey castle. It is situated on the Welsh side of the River Dee from where control could be kept of the marsh lands between the river and the Welsh foothills. The motte is located in the eastern half of the bailey with the north-eastern corner of the bailey having been destroyed by the construction of a rectory and its gardens. The site includes a flat-topped motte, slightly mutilated on its northern side, but measuring c.13m diameter at the summit and 3.3m high. It is surrounded on all sides except the north by a ditch, c.2.3m deep by 7m wide at the base, that is dry apart from a small waterlogged area at the south-east. The bailey is bounded by a bank and outer ditch, best preserved on the south-east where the bank measures c.7m wide by 1.5m high. The outer ditch remains waterlogged in its southern part and has an average width of c.6-7m and is 3m deep. It has been partly infilled on its eastern side. A dry outlet channel some 2.5m wide by 33m long issues from the south-eastern corner of the outer ditch. In 1086 Dodleston manor was held by Osberne Fitz Tezzon, a Norman baron who founded the Boydall family. It subsequently passed to the Redishes. A later mansion, the property of the Manleys of Lache, was erected within the site. This was the headquarters of Sir William Brereton during the seige of Chester (1644-6) and has since been demolished. A greenhouse and shed, all walls, fences and the remains of a Victorian sewage system in the outer ditch are excluded from the scheduling. The ground beneath all these features, however, 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
Ormerod, G, 'History of Cheshire' in History of Cheshire, , Vol. 3, (1882), 847
In Cheshire SMR No. 1978/2, Photographic Record of the Dodleston Survey,
Leach, P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Motte & Bailey Castles, (1988)
SMR No. 1978/2, Cheshire SMR, Dodleston Castle, (1989)
To Robinson, K D MPPFW, Mr. Shanklin (Site owner), (1991)


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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