Motte castle 150m north east of Butthouse


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Motte castle 150m north east of Butthouse
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
King's Pyon
National Grid Reference:
SO 44248 48946

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Despite the trees on its mound, the motte castle at Butthouse is a well preserved example of this class of monument. The earthwork remains will preserve details of the motte construction, including post holes and/or stone foundations which will elucidate the construction and form of its wooden or stone tower. Evidence for the construction of a bridge across the ditch will be preserved by the deposits which have accumulated in the ditch itself. These fills will contain environmental evidence relating to the medieval landscape in which the motte was constructed, and for subsequent activity at and around it. Similarly, the buried land surface beneath the mound preserves evidence for the ecology and land use immediately prior to construction of the motte. When considered alongside others in the county, the monument contributes to our understanding of the political and social organisation of medieval Herefordshire. In addition, the motte's location near the 17th century mansion known as Butthouse illustrates the continuity of lordly occupation in the vicinity through to the post-medieval period.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a small motte castle, situated on a south east facing slope above a tributary of Wellington Brook, which runs eastwards into the River Lugg and near the 17th century mansion known as Butthouse. The remains include an earthen motte mound, roughly circular, c.28m in diameter at the base and c.17m diameter at the top. The motte is steep-sided and has a flat top, which is c.2.4m high in the west and c.1.7m high in the east. Ploughing in a rough square around the mound has produced an angular boundary at its base, most marked on the south east where the sides are rather less steep. Although a ditch is no longer visible, material for the mound's construction will have been quarried from a surrounding ditch, which is now completely infilled. The motte is planted with mature and sapling oak trees, all of which have died. Four saplings stand in protective wooden tree guards; these guards are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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.

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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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