St Weonard's Tump, a motte castle in St Weonard's village


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014105

Date first listed: 23-Jan-1968

Date of most recent amendment: 01-Jul-1996


Ordnance survey map of St Weonard's Tump, a motte castle in St Weonard's village
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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: St. Weonards

National Grid Reference: SO 49556 24267


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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 the attentions of early investigators and the intrusion of the water tank, St Weonard's Tump is a well preserved example of a motte castle. The earthwork remains of the mound will preserve details of its construction and its adaptation from earlier burial use. Ditch fills to the west will contain environmental evidence relating to the medieval landscape in which the motte was constructed, and for subsequent activity at and around it. St Weonard's Tump forms part of the wider picture of Herefordshire's medieval defences, and as such contributes to our understanding of the political and social organisation of the county at the time. Early investigation has demonstrated the survival in good condition of prehistoric deposits at the site. The barrow mound will retain evidence for its method of construction and for further burials, elucidating the technology and burial practices of its builders. The buried ground surface beneath the barrow will contain evidence for land use immediately prior to its construction. Interest in the monument is enhanced by its prolonged role as a focus for community activity, most recently as the site of tree planting to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee. It is a prominent landmark at the centre of the village.


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 on a natural knoll c.75m south west of St Weonard's Church, in the middle of the village, which itself sits on a slight ridge between The Gamber and Garren Brook. The remains include an earthen mound, of circular form, up to 34m in diameter and c.4m high. The motte's steep sides have been cut into in the south west quarter by a domestic hardstanding, and from the south east by an early investigation which has left a hollow, 3m wide at the edge and c.7m wide by c.2m deep at the centre of the mound. A disused water tank, 1.5m x 2.5m, is sunk into the summit of the mound to a depth of c.1.2m. The motte is planted with evergreen and deciduous trees and has a thick cover of ivy and brambles. It is fenced to the south and east, with a small area of garden adjacent to the aforementioned hardstanding. To the north and west the mound descends steeply to the back of neighbouring houses and gardens. Material for the construction of the mound will have been quarried from a surrounding ditch, the remains of which were visible to the east until the new school road was built in 1967. The encroachment of houses, roads, and a water pipe to the south of the mound, has removed or modified evidence for this feature elsewhere. The excavation of the mound in 1855 revealed two burnt human burials under a cover of stones. This suggests that the knoll was originally the site of a prehistoric burial mound, or round barrow, which was adapted for defensive purposes in the medieval period. One writer in the mid-19th century noted the mound's history of use for fetes and dancing, suggesting that its significance as a focus of community activity survived this period of military use. All fences around the motte and the water tank on its summit are excluded from the scheduling, however the ground beneath them is included. The houses, footpaths, road and hardstanding are excluded from the scheduling.

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: 27493

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Robinson, , Mansions and Manor Houses of Herefordshire, (1869)
Wright, T, 'Archaeologia Cambrensis' in Treago and a large tumulus at St Weonards, , Vol. II(3), (1855), 160-73
Wright, T, 'Archaeologia Cambrensis' in Archaeologia Cambrensis, , Vol. 3ser, I, (1855), 168

End of official listing