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the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other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 Gumley is a well preserved example of a Leicestershire
motte and will retain archaeological evidence of the monument's main
construction and occupation phases. The motte lies close to a similarly well
preserved motte at Kibworth.
The monument at Gumley is situated on a natural promontory 300m west of the
village, 5km north-west of Market Harborough.
The motte comprises a flat-topped, circular mound surrounded by a ditch and
outer levelled platform. The mound is approximately 40m in diameter and 4m
tall with an area of about 15m across on the top. The ditch surrounding the
mound is very silted and has a width of 5-6m and a very shallow depth,
generally less than 0.5m. A levelled area of up to 9m exists outside the
motte ditch, after which the ground falls away sharply on all sides except the
There are several local names attached to the site including The Mount, Cat
Gruff, and Dane's Camp. An area to the south called The Mot, although now
levelled, is considered to have been a moated site contemporary with the motte
castle. The site also lies only 4km south of a motte at Kibworth.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.