Alton Castle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Alton Castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Staffordshire Moorlands (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 07285 42448

Reasons for Designation

Motte castles were mounds of soil and/or stone, usually surrounded by either a wet or dry ditch and surmounted by a tower constructed of timber or stone. Such castles were military strongholds of medieval date, built as a base for offensive operations. They are found both in urban areas and rural settings. Alton is particularly important, surviving as a dominant and outstanding feature of the medieval landscape in the West Midlands. This significance is further enhanced by the surviving architectural features. In particular, the outer wall, with its successive gates and rock-cut ditch, constitutes an instructive monument of military architecture. The original 12th century stone gate and its 14th century successor represent a rare combination which, in its own right is worthy of preservation. The site is also of considerable historic importance. It has a direct association with the patron of Croxden Abbey. This represented the seat of a Cistercian foundation while Alton Castle represents that of its founder.


The monument includes part of the outer wall, a wall tower, two gatehouses and a small oval bailey, all defended to the south and east by a massive dry ditch cut out of the rock. It is believed to have been in existence by 1175 and occupied a strong position at the top of a cliff overlooking the Churnet valley. The castle was dismantled in the Civil War. The outer wall can be traced for most of its length on the south side of the bailey where it forms a revetment to the north face of the moat. At the east end of the wall are the remains of a 12th century gatehouse, while 25m to the west of that are the foundations of a circular wall tower. Two fragments of the tower survive where it joined the outer wall. At the west end of the bailey are the remains of an early 14th century gatehouse which probably superseded the earlier example. A fragment of the outer wall, up to 6m in height, survives to the north side and is incorporated in the fabric of the 19th century buildings. Medieval structures and associated deposits are likely to remain buried within the bailey and evidence for bridges relating to both the 12th and early 14th century gatehouses is believed to survive. The 19th century building on the north side of the castle is excluded from the scheduling, apart from the incorporated fragment of the outer wall, and apart from the ground beneath the standing building, which are included. All buildings on the south side of the area are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath them is included. The swimming pool is also excluded from the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Nicholl, R, History of North Staffordshire, (1933), 4
Cantor, L M, 'North Staffordshire Journal of Field Studies' in The Medieval Castles of Staffordshire, , Vol. 6, (1966), 42-3


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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