Motte castle 400m north east of Upper Gwarthlow Farm


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


Ordnance survey map of Motte castle 400m north east of Upper Gwarthlow Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Jan-2020 at 12:09:02.


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

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
Chirbury with Brompton
National Grid Reference:
SO 25215 95454

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Gwarthlow castle motte survives well and is a fine example of its class. It will retain archaeological information relating both to its construction and to its occupation. Environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed will be preserved within the mound and the ditch fill. Such castles provide valuable information concerning the settlement pattern and social organisation of the countryside during the medieval period.


The monument includes the remains of Gwarthlow castle motte castle which is believed to have been the centre of the manor of Rhiston. The castle is situated on the summit of a low ridge commanding excellent views of the surrounding landscape. It includes a well defined earthen castle mound, or motte, circular in plan with a base diameter of 28m and standing up to 6.3m high. The motte has been constructed by cutting a scarp around the ridge summit to form a foundation mound and then piling further material on top to give the desired height. The summit of the motte is roughly oval in plan with dimensions of 12m east to west by 10m north to south, its surface sloping from east to west. Surrounding the motte is a ditch from which material would have been quarried for the upper part of the motte. It remains visible around the eastern quarter as a shallow depression 0.2m deep and 4m wide and will survive around the remaining sides as a buried feature of similar proportions. There is no visible evidence for a bailey associated with the motte.

The fence surrounding the motte and ditch is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is included.

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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
King, D J C, Spurgeon, J, 'Arch Camb' in The Mottes In The Vale Of Montgomery, , Vol. CXIV, (1965), 79-80
SAM description, Snowdon, C A,


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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