Beaudesert Castle: motte and bailey castle and two fishponds
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Jan-2021 at 20:40:23.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Stratford-on-Avon (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SP 15586 66176
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were superseded by other types of castle.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 site of Beaudesert Castle survives well, contains a range of important archaeological features and represents a fine example of a motte with a double bailey and an associated fishpond and water-management complex.
Beaudesert Castle is situated in a prominent position on The Mount, above the
town of Henley-in-Arden. The monument comprises a single area including a
number of features: a motte and double bailey castle, two fishponds and ridge
and furrow cultivation.
The motte and bailey castle is set on a promontory of high ground running
north-east to south-west. The motte is a flat-topped, artificial mound
surrounded by a ditch. The ditch measures approximately 15m wide and has a
near vertical outer bank. The motte is 85m in length and 55m wide at its
widest point; an area of approximately 0.5ha. A raised bank of earth on the
south west side of the motte forms a causeway across the ditch, allowing
access from the bailey to the motte. The bailey is divided into inner and
outer enclosures by a 10m wide ditch with a V-shaped profile. The two
enclosures vary both in size and form. The inner contains an area of 0.5ha
and is rectangular in plan while the outer is oval, enclosing approximately
0.3ha. Access to the motte and bailey was by a terraced way from the south
leading into the inner courtyard through a defile. In 1840 a piece of 13th or
14th century moulded capital was found at the site. Other finds have included
fragments of ceramic roof tiles.
Two fishponds are located approximately 150m to the north of Beaudesert
Castle. The dry upper pond has a rectangular plan and contains an area of
approximately 0.4ha. The retaining banks measure up to 10m wide and 0.5m
high. There is a break in the bank at the north-west corner of the pond and a
dry, shallow channel is visible west of the upper pond. A raised island 20m
in length, survives within the pond close to the north bank. There is
evidence of ridge and furrow cultivation within the now dry pond. South west
of the upper pond is a second, lower fishpond. The lower pond, which is
waterlogged, measures 100m in length and 30m broad at its widest section. The
retaining banks survive as earthworks and an outflow channel can be traced as
a shallow, silted-up ditch which runs into a stream south-west of the lower
fishpond. Several blocks of ridge and furrow cultivation are contained within
the constraint area. These blocks of ridge and furrow all relate physically
to the other features on the site, for example, the two fishponds, and provide
interconnecting stratigraphic links between them, providing evidence for the
development of the site through time.
North-east of the motte and bailey castle are the earthworks of a small quarry
which cut into the hillslope. There is a buried observation post located in
the ditch between the inner and outer baileys. It is part of the
historical development of the site and is included in the scheduling.
There is little documentary evidence for the architectural history of
Beaudesert Castle. The castle is thought to have been constructed by
Thurstane de Monfort and was completed by approximately 1140. Beaudesert
Castle is known to have been occupied by Peter de Monfort. The importance of
the castle probably declined when the de Monfort estates passed to the Earl of
Warwick in approximately 1369. An account roll of 1411 mentions repairs to
the castle. Beaudesert Castle was probably abandoned by 1547. The
electricity poles which are situated to the south of the fishponds are
excluded from the scheduling. The ground beneath these features, however, 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Dugdale, W, Antiquities of Warwickshire, (1730)
Hooke, D, Hodrien, R C, Hodrien, S, Motte and Bailey Castle with Fishpond Complex, (1983)
Salzman, LF (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire: Volume III, (1945), 45
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