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were superseded by other types of castle.
Except for minor disturbance of the motte in the 19th century during
antiquarian investigations, the motte and bailey at Kirkby Malzeard castle are
well preserved; the below ground remains of medieval structures will survive
on the motte and within the bailey while the buried landsurface beneath the
motte will retain environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which
the castle was constructed. The castle retains important information about the
form and structure and provides a valuable contribution to the study of
medieval fortifications and their subsequent function in the landscape.
The monument includes a motte and bailey castle situated on the north edge of
a spur, at the foot of which flows the Kex Beck. The area of the motte is
heavily wooded and the bailey is under pasture. The northern end of the spur
has been scarped to form a large but low motte, with a platform some 25m in
diameter. The motte falls away sharply to the west, whilst to the south and
east it slopes gently to the bailey. The bailey has a well defined rampart on
the north west, and traces of rampart and ditch on the west and south sides.
The exact line of its eastern defences is uncertain. The north of the monument
is defined by the edge of Kex Beck which has at some time been revetted. The
bailey measures 110m across. There is no stone fabric visible although
excavations have revealed the existence of stone defences and evidence
suggesting the presence of domestic buildings on the motte. The surrounding
woodland was landscaped in post medieval times and the motte had a series of
terraces and steps built onto it in the 19th century, of which little trace
can now be seen. A road runs along the base of the motte to the south east,
separating the motte from the bailey.
The monument is first mentioned in 1131 and was one of the three Mowbray
castles slighted after the insurrection of 1173-74. It was destroyed in 1176
on the order of Henry II, and does not appear to have been re-occupied since.
It came into the hands of the Aislbie family in the 18th century and the
surrounding woodland was landscaped to create rides and vistas.
The surface of the road is excluded from the scheduling although the ground
beneath is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.