Holdgate Castle motte and bailey castle and garden remains at Hall Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Holdgate Castle motte and bailey castle and garden remains at Hall Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Jan-2020 at 11:27:29.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SO 56292 89543

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Holdgate Castle motte and bailey survives well and is a fine example of its class. It has a well documented history which demonstrates an early foundation and longevity of occupation. The substantial motte and bailey earthworks will contain important archaeological evidence concerning their construction and stratified evidence relating to the occupation of the site. The summit of the motte will contain evidence for the building which stood upon it and archaeological material relating to its occupation. The interior of the northern bailey, although overbuilt by farm buildings, will contain important archaeological material relating to the domestic occupation of the site buried below the ground surface. The southern bailey, which forms the churchyard and which has documented historical links with the foundation of the church, demonstrates the close association between church and castle in the medieval period. The garden earthworks to the south east are thought to relate to the later medieval and early post medieval occupation of the castle and are thus a comparatively rare survival. They survive well and will provide valuable information concerning the physical arrangement of gardens in this early period. They will also contain archaeological and environmental material relating to their original plant communities. Environmental material relating to the landscape in which the castle itself was built will be preserved sealed beneath the motte, the various banks and ditches. The complex, considered as a whole, is one of the most complete medieval castle complexes in Shropshire and contributes valuable information pertaining to the development of the castle in the Marches and to an understanding of the settlement pattern, economy and social organisation of the countryside during the medieval and early post- medieval period.


The monument includes the remains of Holdgate Castle, a large motte and bailey castle, with two baileys, a 13th century tower, garden remains, secular college and later ice house. The castle is situated at the northern end of a low ridge on the east side of Corve Dale in Holdgate village and lies in close proximity to the parish church, with which it is historically associated. Holdgate takes its name from the Norman landowner Helgot, who is recorded in Domesday as holding the manor, which was then known as Stanton, along with 16 others in the county of Shropshire. Helgot was a sub-tenant of Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, and is said to have built a castle here as his main residence, one of the three earliest castles to be documented in the county of Shropshire. Domesday also records an existing church and priest at Stanton. A new church, presumably replacing an earlier church, is recorded as being consecrated by Bishop Geoffrey de Clive sometime between 1115 and 1119. This 12th century church is described as being built within the perimeter of the pre-existing castle and some 12th century work survives in the fabric of the present Holy Trinity Church. A small college of secular clergy was founded in a dwelling within the castle sometime before 1210. The college is known to have survived until at least 1373, being dissolved sometime after this date. The castle was held by the Royalists during the Civil War and was laid siege to by the Parliamentarians. It was recorded as being deserted and abandoned by 1645. The motte and bailey earthworks at Holdgate include a large castle motte, slightly oval in plan with base dimensions of 50m north to south by 46m east to west and standing up to 10m high. The flat summit of the motte measures 18m north to south by 13m east to west and has been disturbed in the north west and east quarters at some time in the past. There are several dressed stones visible in these diggings which may be part of the foundations of a tower keep which once occupied the summit of the mound. A stone lined ice house, blocked 3m from its entrance, is set into the base of the motte in the west quarter of the motte. A section of the surrounding ditch is visible as a substantial earthwork up to 11m wide and 2.1m deep running for 50m around the south west and west sides of the motte, separating the motte from the churchyard to the south west. Around the remaining sides of the motte, farm buildings and access roads have removed any surface indications of the ditch. However, it will survive as a buried feature. There are two baileys attached to the motte: these would have contained the domestic buildings associated with the castle. The larger of these baileys forms a level platform to the immediate north east of the motte, the area now occupied by Hall Farm. Although a large part of the bailey earthworks has been reduced by the construction of the farm buildings, sufficient evidence remains to show that the bailey platform was roughly rectangular in shape with internal dimensions of 130m north west to south east by 60m transversely. It includes a well defined length of scarp, 70m long and 0.8m high, which runs from the north corner of the motte to curve around to the east forming the north west corner of the bailey. This continues along the north side for 50m before turning south and fading out after 26m. The north west scarp is flanked on its outer edge by a berm up to 3m wide, separating the inner scarp from a shallow outer scarp which merges into the natural hillslope falling to the west. This outer scarp, up to 0.6m high, continues around the outside of the motte to join with the outer scarp of the second bailey south of the motte. The east side of the north bailey is no longer visible as a surface feature, having been levelled to accommodate farm buildings. Similarly the south western section of the bailey perimeter is no longer visible as an earthwork. However around the south eastern edge of the bailey platform the perimeter scarp is present as a steep scarp 2.2m high falling from the platform to the roadway below. In the north west quarter of this bailey and included within the scheduling, is a large semicircular mural tower believed to be 13th century in date. It is built into the rear of the later farmhouse and is of ashlar construction with narrow slit windows and a conical, tiled roof. Access to the interior of the tower is from the interior of the farmhouse, though it is not presently used for any purpose. Both the tower and the farmhouse are Listed Buildings Grade II. To the south west of the motte, its north east side conjoined with the south west section of motte ditch, lies a smaller, possibly earlier, bailey. This level platform, edged by a steep scarp averaging 2m high, now forms the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church. It is roughly triangular in shape with internal dimensions of 77m north to south by 65m east to west. The parish church lies at the centre of this enclosure, a siting which agrees with the early reference to the church being constructed within the confines of the castle. The church and churchyard are still in use and are excluded from the scheduling but the perimeter scarp of the enclosure is included within the scheduling. The church is Listed Grade B. To the south east of the motte and bailey complex, occupying ground falling to the south east, is a complex of earthworks forming a series of rectangular enclosures. They are believed to represent the remains of formal gardens associated with the later phases of the castle complex. The enclosures are bounded by strong cross-slope scarps up to 1m high with down-slope banks arranged at right angles to the scarps. At least four distinct rectangular plots with an average internal area of approximately 0.7ha can be recognised. To the south west of the enclosures lies a pond which appears to be associated with the earthworks. A well defined north west to south east orientated hollow way, up to 1.5m deep, marks the south western extent of the garden earthworks. All modern farm buildings, fences, structures, metalled surfaces, including the tennis court in the north west corner of the bailey and the perimeter wall of the churchyard are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all of these features is included. The church, churchyard and intake pit are totally excluded from the scheduling.

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
Holy Trinity Church Holdgate
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971), 415,427
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire, (1908), 395


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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