Motte castle 100m north east of Howton Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014882

Date first listed: 01-Jun-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 01-Aug-1996


Ordnance survey map of Motte castle 100m north east of Howton Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. 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.

District: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Kenderchurch

National Grid Reference: SO 41485 29403


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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

The motte castle 100m north east of Howton Farm is a well-preserved example of this class of monument. The motte mound will preserve evidence for its method of construction, including post holes for revetments and palisades, and for the tower which surmounted it. Evidence for structures such as a bridge will be preserved by the material which has accumulated in the ditch. These ditch deposits will also contain environmental evidence relating to the activities which took place at the motte, and for land use in the surrounding area. The old ground surface sealed beneath the mound and bank will preserve evidence for land use immediately prior to the motte's construction. The bank itself will retain evidence for its construction and for any defensive barrier which surmounted it, as well as the buried foundations of the sluice which controlled the water supply to the ditch. In its strategic position guarding the southern approaches to the Golden Valley, the motte castle north east of Howton Farm forms part of the wider picture of the medieval defences of the county. When viewed in association with other similar monuments in the area it can contribute 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 medieval motte castle, situated on the floodplain of the Worm Brook, a tributary of the River Dore, near the southern end of the Golden Valley. The area is seasonally flooded, and the brook which flows within 10m of the monument has been straightened to minimise this flooding. The remains include an earthen mound of circular form, c.45m in diameter at the base, rising c.2m to a flat top of c.30m diameter. A slight step is visible about one third of the way up the side of the mound, on all but the north west side, where erosion around a large oak tree has modified its profile. This step probably marks the position of a palisade or walkway around the motte. Material for the construction of the mound will have been obtained from the surrounding ditch, which is now largely infilled but is visible around most of the mound as a slight depression with thicker and darker grass than elsewhere. The ditch averages 10m wide and survives to a depth of c.0.3m on the south east side. Traces of a slight external or counterscarp bank are visible on the south east, south west and west sides, surviving as a flattened bank some 8m wide. A break in this feature in the SSE quarter, c.8m wide and discernible as a stretch of slightly darker grass, probably represents an inlet channel, controlling the amount of water filling the ditch from the brook to the east. Evidence for the sluice which controlled the water level will survive buried within the remains of the bank. The Marches area is noted for its concentration of medieval defensive monuments, and the monument is one of several guarding the Golden Valley route into Wales. In common with many similar examples, the proximity of a later residence, in this case Howton Court, illustrates the continuation of lordly occupation in this location. The fence across the north east side of the mound is excluded from the scheduling, however the ground beneath it 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: 27522

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Gould, I C, The Victoria History of the County of Herefordshire: Volume I, (1908), 227
Jack, G H, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club' in , , Vol. 1911, (1911), 235
Atkin, Malcolm, (1995)
SMR info, MHB, (1972)

End of official listing