Motte castle and associated settlement remains 150m NNW of Lower Down Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1012853
Date first listed: 23-Oct-1954
Date of most recent amendment: 22-Jul-1995
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
Parish: Lydbury North
National Grid Reference: SO 33653 84647
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the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other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 Lower Down Farm survives well and is a good example of its class. It will retain archaeological information relating to its construction and occupation. The foundations of a tower keep are preserved on the summit of the motte and will retain architectural details of the keep. The earthwork enclosures and the associated building platforms are a good example of settlement remains, which in this location illustrate well the close association between the castle and its community. Environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which the castle and its settlement were constructed and occupied will be preserved in the bases of the ditch fills. Such monuments, when considered as a single site or as a part of a broader medieval landscape, contribute valuable information concerning the settlement pattern, economy and social structure of the countryside during the medieval period.
The monument includes the remains of a motte castle, the foundations of a
shell keep and a group of earthworks marking the remains of an associated
settlement. The motte is situated on the summit of a rounded hill overlooking
ground falling to the north. It includes an earthen mound with a base diameter
of 36m rising 4.7m to a summit 18m in diameter. The centre of the motte is
hollowed to a depth of 1.5m, a feature which is believed to represent the
foundation cut for a polygonal shell keep which originally stood on the mound.
A section of laid stone walling 1m long remains visible in the south west quadrant of the mound top and indicates that this keep was of stone construction. Substantial stone foundations are visible to a depth of several feet where exposed by surface erosion, indicating that the keep foundations continue well below the current upper surface of the mound. Surrounding the mound is a ditch averaging 6.5m wide and between 2m and 0.6m deep. Coursed stone exposed in the side of the ditch in the north west quarter suggest that it was originally faced in stone. Material from the ditch cut has been thrown outwards to form a counter scarp bank along the outer edge of the ditch. This is visible as a well defined earthwork averaging 4.3m wide and 0.5m high on all sides but the south east where it is no longer present.
To the north and north east of the motte are a group of low earthworks which indicate the buried remains of a small settlement which was associated with the motte castle. A linear bank up to 4m wide and 0.5m high with slight traces of a ditch on its east side extends from the motte curving out to the north. It runs for 57m before ending on a modern hedgeline. A well defined scarp 0.4m high runs parallel to the bank some 30m to the west. A second bank runs at right angles to the first extending towards the east. This ends after 70m on a modern hedgeline. North of this scarp are faint traces of the earthwork remains of ridge and furrow ploughing. These rectilinear earthworks represent the remains of a group of small enclosures bounded by banks and ditches, some of which functioned as small paddocks and stock enclosures whilst others were ploughed on occasion. Some of the enclosures, especially those to the north east of the motte contained buildings, the platforms of which survive as low earthworks.
All boundary features are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath 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.
Legacy System number: 19185
Legacy System: RSM
Record no 148,
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