Cothill Tump, a motte castle 500m north west of Cothill Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014104

Date first listed: 18-Mar-1996


Ordnance survey map of Cothill Tump, a motte castle 500m north west of Cothill Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Turnastone

National Grid Reference: SO 33857 36302


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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Despite afforestation and early investigation of its mound, the motte castle at Cothill is a well-preserved example of this class of monument. The earthwork remains will preserve details of the motte construction, including postholes and stone foundations which will preserve evidence of the construction and form of its tower. Evidence for features such as bridges will be preserved by the deposits which have accumulated in the ditch. These ditch fills will also contain environmental evidence relating to the medieval landscape in which the motte was constructed, and to subsequent activity at and around it. Similarly, the buried land surface beneath the mound will preserve evidence for the ecology and land use immediately prior to construction of the motte. Earlier activity at the site may be represented by a barrow mound and associated deposits, which will contribute to our understanding of the technology and burial practices of its builders, and will also retain environmental evidence for the prehistoric landscape. When considered alongside others in the county, the motte contributes to our understanding of the political and social organisation of medieval Herefordshire.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle, situated at the top of a south facing slope, above a tributary of the River Dore. Although not on the summit of the ridge, the motte sits on a slight natural rise and commands impressive views of the surrounding area. The remains include a steep sided earthen mound of circular form, c.34m diameter at the base, rising c.3.5m to a diameter of c.20m at the top. The sides of the mound are planted with several mature trees, including oak, ash and hawthorne, and its top is very uneven, probably due to early investigation. In the north west quarter a ramp has been cut into the side of the mound, probably also the result of an investigation of the mound, while a second, wider, ramp enters the mound to the south. Spoil from this feature has spread to either side, resulting in an irregular hollow c.1.7m wide at the top of the mound and extending c.3.5m at its base. Given the motte's south facing aspect, the position of this ramp is consistent with an original entry to the monument, however the wide spread of spoil suggests that this area has also been the subject of early investigation. The motte mound is surrounded by a ditch from which material for its construction will have been obtained. The ditch is visible all round the mound, except to the north where its extent has been obscured by ploughing in the adjacent field. It is 2m-2.5m wide and up to 0.4m deep, and the grass within it is both wetter and greener than surrounding areas. The ditch is itself defined by a low external bank, up to 5.5m wide and visible as a slight rise to the south and west of the motte. This feature has been levelled by ploughing in adjacent fields to the north and east. An outlet channel, 2.5m wide, interrupts the bank in the south west quarter; this would have been part of the original water supply system of the motte castle. The position of the monument is typical of Bronze Age bowl barrows locally, and in its present form it may represent medieval adaptation of such an earlier feature. The fences and hedges to the north and east of the monument and the gate to the east are excluded from the scheduling, however 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.

Legacy System number: 27491

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Rees, W, South Wales in the 14th Century, (1932)
Shoesmith, R, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club' in , , Vol. 1969, (1969), 475
Shoesmith, R, (1995)

End of official listing