Motte and bailey castle south of Lilbourne Gorse


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013349

Date first listed: 16-May-1946

Date of most recent amendment: 02-Jan-1992


Ordnance survey map of Motte and bailey castle south of Lilbourne Gorse
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Northamptonshire

District: Daventry (District Authority)

Parish: Lilbourne

National Grid Reference: SP 55329 77162


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 monument at Lilbourne Gorse is one of two closely associated motte and bailey castles which lie within 800m of each other. Both the motte and the bailey are essentially undisturbed and survive in good condition. The site has considerable potential for the survival of archaeological information on the period of construction and use of the castle and concerning its relationship to the second castle nearby.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


This monument consists of a motte and bailey castle which lies just south west of Lilbourne Gorse, and approximately 0.9km to the north west of the village of Lilbourne. The motte and bailey survives as earthworks which cover an area measuring approximately 85m x 62m. The motte lies on the south of the site and is a flat topped round mound about 10m high. The mound is surrounded by a substantial ditch between 1.5m and 2.5m deep and in places up to 10m wide. On the north side of the motte lie the remains of a peripheral oval bailey. The edge of the bailey is defined by a slight rise in the land up to 0.5m high, and the ditch around the bailey is indicated by soil marks. The motte and bailey stands in an isolated position on high ground, looking towards Watling Street to the west. This castle lies 800m to the south west of a second motte and bailey which is located just to the north of Lilbourne village.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


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

Legacy System number: 13657

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing