Caple Tump, a motte castle 175m south west of Caple Court


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014884

Date first listed: 12-Sep-1969

Date of most recent amendment: 01-Aug-1996


Ordnance survey map of Caple Tump, a motte castle 175m south west of Caple Court
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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: Kings Caple

National Grid Reference: SO 55948 28795

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Caple Tump is a well-preserved example of this class of monument. The motte mound and bank will contain details of their method of construction, including post holes for revetments and palisades, and foundations for the wooden or stone tower. Evidence for structures such as a bridge will be preserved by the material which has accumulated in the ditch. The ditch deposits will contain environmental evidence relating to the activities which took place at the motte and for land use in the surrounding area. The buried land surface beneath the mound will preserve evidence for land use immediately prior to the motte's construction. The motte's proximity to St John's Church illustrates the close relationship between ecclesiastical and secular power in the medieval period, and when viewed in association with other defensive sites in the area the monument contributes to our understanding of the medieval political and social organisation of the county. The motte is a prominent local landmark, and continues to be used for community events.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle, situated on a low ridge just south of the main road through the village of King's Caple, and opposite St John's Church. The monument includes an earthen motte mound, circular in plan and with a diameter of 35m. The motte's steep sides rise 3.5m on the north side and 2.5m on the south side, to a flat top with a diameter of roughly 25m. The remains of a low earthen bank around the rim of the summit survive up to 4.5m in width and up to 1m high in places. This bank has been breached in four places where paths have been created on to the top of the mound. Only one of these represents the original access to the motte platform, the remainder are of more modern date. Material for the construction of the mound will have been obtained from a surrounding ditch, traces of which are visible as a slight depression roughly 8m wide on the south east side of the motte. Elsewhere the ditch has become completely infilled, but will survive below ground. All fences around the monument, and the modern road surface are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath these features 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: 27524

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing