Hopton Castle tower keep castle with outer bailey 150m north west of Park Cottage
- 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.
- Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
- Hopton Castle
- National Grid Reference:
- SO 36663 77932
Reasons for Designation
A tower keep castle is a strongly fortified residence in which the keep is the
principal defensive feature. The keep may be free-standing or surrounded by a
defensive enclosure; they are normally square in shape, although other shapes
are known. Internally they have several floors providing accommodation of
various types. If the keep has an attached enclosure this will normally be
defined by a defensive wall, frequently with an external ditch. Access into
the enclosure was provided by a bridge across the ditch, allowing entry via a
gatehouse. Additional buildings, including stabling for animals and workshops,
may be found within the enclosure. Tower keep castles were built throughout
the medieval period, from immediately after the Norman Conquest to the mid-
15th century, with a peak in the middle of the 12th century. A few were
constructed on the sites of earlier earthwork castle types but most were new
creations. They provided strongly fortified residences for the king or leading
families and occur in both urban or rural situations. Tower keep castles are
widely dispersed throughout England with a major concentration on the Welsh
border. They are rare nationally with only 104 recorded examples. Considerable
diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With
other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to
the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative
centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles
generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a
valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and
defence, and to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples retaining
significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally
Hopton Castle tower keep castle survives well, is well documented and represents one of the finest examples of its class in the county. The motte and bailey earthworks remain largely undisturbed and will contain stratified archaeological information concerning both their method and date of construction and evidence of occupation on the site. The keep, although in ruinous condition, is a valuable example of 14th century castle architecture. The foundations of the domestic buildings associated with the occupation of the castle, together with evidence of the various processes carried out within the castle confines, will survive within the interior of the baileys. Environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed will be preserved in the fill of the various ditches and on the old land surfaces sealed beneath the motte and the various ramparts. Organic material may survive in the wet areas of the bailey ditch and fishpond. Such complex motte and bailey castles contribute valuable information concerning the rural settlement pattern, economy, social organisation and military technology of the medieval period.
The monument includes Hopton Castle, a well defined tower keep castle built on
a motte and bailey situated at the confluence of two streams. The castle
stands on slightly raised ground bounded around the north, east and south
sides by natural watercourses. It includes a castle mound or motte and two
baileys; the motte is surmounted by a rectangular stone keep, which is also a
Listed Building Grade I.
The motte is roughly circular in plan with a base diameter of 33m and rises
2m above the surrounding ground surface to a flat summit 20m in diameter. The
substantial remains of a 14th century rectangular masonry keep stand on the
summit of the motte. It has doorways in its north and west sides, the west
door being designed to give access to the inner bailey. The remains of a
causeway project into the motte ditch below the west door, this may represent
the site of a drawbridge. A ditch up to 8m wide and 1m deep surrounds the
motte and remains visible as an earthwork throughout most of its circuit. A
section some 20m long around the north east side has been largely eroded away,
probably as a result of periodic flooding by the stream to the north. A well
defined scarp averaging 1m in height separates the site from this stream,
creating a flat raised area between the motte and the stream. The remains of a
building, comprising a circular platform 10m in diameter with its centre
hollowed to a depth of 0.5m, lies in the south east corner of this level area.
There are two bailey enclosures attached to the motte, these being designed
to contain and protect the domestic buildings associated with the castle. The
roughly rectangular inner bailey lies immediately to the west of the motte and
has maximum internal dimensions of 40m north to south by 30m east to west. It
is bounded on all sides by a well defined scarp falling to a ditch 12m wide
and 2.6m deep. A concentration of stone around the upper edge of the bailey
scarp suggests that it was originally surmounted by a curtain wall. A 6m
square embanked hollow, positioned at the south west corner of the bailey is
believed to represent the site of a tower or turret. In the north east
quadrant of the bailey are two rectangular hollows; they lie parallel to each
other and are orientated roughly east to west. The more northerly has
dimensions of 16m long by 6m wide, the southerly, which has the remains of a
foundation wall visible in its north side, is 15m long by 8m wide. Both are
believed to represent the remains of rectangular domestic buildings associated
with the occupation of the castle.
A second, outer bailey, lies to the south and west of the motte and inner
bailey, strengthening the defences around these sides. It is a raised platform
1.5m high, roughly L-shaped in plan which wraps around the motte and inner
bailey. The longest arm is 130m east to west flanked along its south side by a
substantial outer ditch 12m wide and between 1.7m and 2m deep. This ditch
continues around the east end of the bailey, turning around the north side to
separate the bailey from the motte and platform to the north. Here the ditch
is widened to create a rectangular water-filled fishpond 50m east to west by
17m wide and averaging 2m in depth. This is linked at its western end by a
channel 18m long and 6m wide to the ditch of the motte and inner bailey. The
shorter arm of the outer bailey extends north for 70m from the west end of the
longer arm and has no visible trace of an outer ditch.
All boundary features and modern structures within the area of the scheduling
are excluded, although the ground beneath them is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Allen Brown, R, English Castles, (1970), 122
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