Motte castle 300m north east of Combe House
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SO 34772 63441
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the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other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 motte castle at Combe is a well preserved example of this class of monument. The motte mound will contain details of its method of construction, which may include post holes and foundations for its wooden or stone tower. Evidence for structures such as a bridge will be preserved by the material which has accumulated in the ditch. As these deposits are waterlogged there is a high likelihood that they preserve organic remains related to the use of the motte, and will contain environmental evidence for the nature of the medieval landscape in which the motte was constructed and occupied, as will the buried land surface beneath the mound itself. This evidence can contribute to our understanding of development and use of the motte. In its strategic position guarding a river crossing, the motte at Combe forms part of the wider picture of the medieval defences of Herefordshire, and as such is an important element of the medieval political and social organisation of the county. Clearly visible from the road, and with a public right of way passing through the field in which it sits, this motte forms a highly visible landmark in the valley.
The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle
situated c.90m south of Hindwell Brook, near its confluence with the River
Lugg. It sits in a pasture field, overlooking a bridge over Hindwell Brook.
The remains include an earthen motte mound of circular form, c.40m diameter at
the base and rising c.1.5m to a flat top of c.20m diameter. The top of the
mound has a depression, c.12m long and 0.5m deep, and a roughly circular hole
2m diameter and 0.5m deep. These features may be the result of past
investigations. The mound is cut to the south by a hollow, c.2m wide and
c.0.6m deep, which extends into the ditch and may be the remains of a ramp
providing access to the motte. There is a slight mounding of material on the
top of the motte to either side of this hollow. A shallow shelf around the
motte mound forms a slight berm, less easily visible to the north. The motte
is surrounded by an irregular ditch from which material for the mound's
construction would have been quarried. The ditch varies in depth from 0.6m to
1.2m, has a maximum width of 5m, and is water-filled in its deepest parts.
This in turn is surrounded by a slight external bank, up to 2.5m wide and
visible in places to a height of 0.5m. A gap, c.2m wide, through the south
west quarter of this bank represents the remains of an inlet channel, part of
the original water supply for the ditch. Slight mounding of material on the
external bank is visible to either side of this inlet. The monument is in a
strategic position guarding a river crossing, but although a series of water
channels visible to the north, west and north east of the motte, relate to
subsequent land-use around the monument, they are evidently unconnected to the
motte castle itself, and are excluded from the scheduling.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 3 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:
Title: Map of S. Wales in the 14th century Source Date: 1932 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: NE sheet
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