Watch Hill motte and bailey castle, 450m south of Streethead Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Watch Hill motte and bailey castle, 450m south of Streethead Farm
© 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.

Trafford (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 74784 85993

Reasons for Designation

Motte and bailey 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-bailey 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 and bailey 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 or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. 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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 and bailey castle at Watch Hill survives well and still has traces of entrance works and clearly defined earthworks for the bailey. There will be significant surviving remains of the post holes for the wooden keep and the timberwork of the interior. The bailey will contain evidence of the internal buildings for the staff and the wooden fortifications on the rampart.


The monument includes a motte and bailey castle on a triangular promontory formed by the bank of the River Bollin on the south side and the steep side of a gorge on the north side. The site has been known variously as Watch Hill, Castle Hill and Yarwood Castle. The castle lies 300m to the east of the Roman road, which became an important medieval highway, and appears to dominate a crossing point by bridge or ford of the River Bollin which lay at what is now New Bridge. The motte is on the west side at the point of the promontory. It stands 6m high and is 40m broad at the base. It is surrounded by a ditch 5m wide which cuts the promontory and separates it from the bailey. On the east side the ditch is 3m deep with a possible original ramp or entrance work on the western side. The bailey is on the promontory to the east of the motte. This an enclosed platform in the shape of a triangle with the eastern side 80m long and the other two sides 60m long. The northern and southern sides are defined by a rampart on the crown of the steep slopes on each side. This can still be seen although it is ploughed down to a height of 0.3m. On the east side the rampart is barely visible, but an outside ditch 4m wide can be seen as a depression, particularly at the line of the hedges on each end. There is a possible counterscarp outside this ditch. The motte was constructed during the years after the Norman Conquest and was part of the barony of the family de Massey who gave their name to Dunham Massey, a hall and settlement to the west of the site. Excavations in 1985, which revealed evidence of the construction and size of the motte, suggested that it was speedily erected, possibly during the rebellion of Hamon de Massey against Henry II in 1173. There is a boundary stone in the bottom of the ditch to the west of the motte bearing the initials S on the west face and C on the east face. This marks the limit of the estate of Lord Stamford at the time that he gave the farmland and castle to the Church Commissioners early in this century. The boundary stone is included in the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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:


Books and journals
Brown, K, Johnson, B, 'GM Archaeological Journal' in Watch Hill Bowden, (), 35-38
Letter EH 1993, Yarwood, BN,


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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