Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1012555
Date first listed: 26-Sep-1950
Date of most recent amendment: 10-Sep-1992
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Mar-2019 at 10:19:08.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: North West Leicestershire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SK 43586 16185
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the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other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 castle at Whitwick survives in good condition and will retain archaeological evidence of buildings within the interior. Royal associations and important documentary information make the site an above average example of its type in Leicestershire.
The motte and bailey castle is situated on an oval-shaped natural hill at the
junction of two streams within the small north-west Leicestershire town of
The bailey of the castle is formed by the natural rise of the hill and
occupies an area measuring approximately 100m x 35m, rising 7-8m from the
surrounding land. The scarp is steepest on the eastern side where the hill
falls away to the Grace Dieu Brook. The motte is a small circular mound
situated in the centre of the hill rising to about 2m in height.
The castle was held by the Earl of Leicester in the middle of the 12th century
and had come into royal hands by 1204 when King John installed William de
Senevill as keeper. By the 14th century it was in the hands of the Earls of
Lancaster when Henry Beaumont had licence to crenellate in 1321 and in 1331 he
complained that the castle had been broken into. It thereafter fell into
disrepair and by 1427 was described as `old and ruinous in which there are no
buildings and worth nothing yearly'. At the end of the 18th century it was
said that the foundations of the castle could still be seen and a wall was
still visible on the north side in 1893.
A row of cottages situated on the north side of the site and an approach drive
to them are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is
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: 17070
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Cantor, L, 'Transactions of the Leicestershire Arch and Historical Society' in The Medieval Castles of Leicestershire (Volume 53), , Vol. 53, (1978), 38
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