Motte and bailey castle and St Mary's Old Church


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Motte and bailey castle and St Mary's Old Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
Edvin Loach and Saltmarshe
National Grid Reference:
SO 66234 58392

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 at Edvin Loach is a good example of this class of monument, and is of particular interest because of its association with the Old Church which remained in use throughout the medieval and post-medieval occupation of the site. The motte mound will retain details of its method of construction, including post holes for palisades and foundations for its medieval tower. The fills of the motte and bailey ditches will preserve evidence for the activities which took place at the castle throughout its occupation. The ground surface sealed beneath the motte mound will preserve environmental evidence for land use immediately prior to its construction. Within the southern part of the bailey enclosure, evidence for the structures which occupied it will survive in the form of post holes and foundations, as will evidence for their function and the activities which took place there. Post or stake holes for any defensive barrier will also be preserved around the edge of the bailey.

The Old Church is a rare example locally of a standing church within a contemporary bailey. The standing remains are well preserved, and retain information relating to its method of construction and subsequent modifications. The early construction, continued use, and subsequent modifications to the Old Church are indicators of the wealth and status of its patrons throughout the occupation of the site. The rapid build-up of ground around the chapel indicates a great intensity of burials in the medieval and early post-medieval period. The spatial and chronological association of the different elements of the monument enhance interest in the site as a whole, and documentary references contribute to our understanding of the development of this high status holding from the 11th century into the post-medieval period. The motte and bailey forms part of the wider picture of the county's medieval defences, and the monument increases our appreciation of the political and social organisation of medieval and later Herefordshire.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte and bailey castle, and the standing and buried remains of St Mary's Old Church at Edvin Loach, and the buried remains of part of the burial ground associated with Old Church. The monument is situated at the highest point in the parish, overlooking rolling hills in all directions, and some 300m north west of the settlement of Edvin Loach. The low motte, with its broad ditch and roughly square bailey enclosure to the east, was probably the site of the manor which was held by Ulfac under Edward the Confessor and which had passed to Osbern FitzRichard by the time of Domesday. The Old Church, originally dedicated to St Giles and later to St Mary, is located within the bailey enclosure, and its features indicate a late Saxon or early Norman origin. Documentary sources refer to a moated stone house known as Camp House, which would have replaced the original structure on the motte. Its occupants were probably responsible for the addition of the Old Church's west tower in the 16th century. The Old Church was replaced by a new church 50m to the west in the 1860s, but remained roofed until c.1890, and the last service was in the 1950s. The ground level around the ruin has been raised by centuries of burials, and although the graveyard is still in use the ruins themselves are in the care of the Secretary of State.

The remains of the motte and bailey castle include an earthen motte mound west of the new church, which is circular in plan with a maximum diameter of 30m. Its sides rise up to 2m to a flat top around 22m in diameter. The summit of the mound has a broad shallow scoop suggestive of early investigation of the site, and within it is a long low mound which extends for roughly 7m from the east side of the motte. The motte is surrounded by a broad ditch from which material for its construction will have been quarried. The ditch is most clearly visible around the south west quarter, where it survives to a depth of 0.4m and is up to 10m wide. It has become infilled to the south east, north west and north east, but will survive here as a buried feature. To the east, the extension of the graveyard and construction of the modern church in the 1860s has truncated the motte mound and modified the remains of its ditch. The remains of a low external bank, up to 8m wide, can be clearly seen around the south west and western edges of the motte ditch. The bailey extends eastwards from the motte, forming a roughly square enclosure with a maximum width of 70m. It was surrounded by a ditch, which is visible as a shallow depression, around 4m wide, along the enclosure's southern side and south eastern corner. The northern part of the eastern boundary is buried beneath the graveyard, and survives here below ground. The northern boundary was probably along the line now followed partly by the track, which is roughly 2m below the level of the graveyard and motte, however the track will have modified the original ditch in this area, and has obscured the relationship between the motte and the bailey ditch. The central part of the bailey is occupied by the churchyard belonging to the Old Church and its westwards extension, including the new church. Only the area around the Old Church is included within the scheduling. The burial ground as a whole represents many generations of a small rural community. The lower levels are contemporary with the earliest use of the church, and the rapid build up of ground, which is particularly evident around its west end, indicates a great intensity of early burials here in the medieval and early post-medieval periods. The standing remains of the Old Church are of coursed sandstone rubble construction, with dressed tufa quoins and jambs, and are Listed Grade II. It is of single cell plan, with continuous nave and chancel, and a west tower. The nave and chancel walls survive to a height of 3m in places, and the tower stands to roughly 5m. Several phases of construction are evident in the building, which is unusual in that later remodelling has attempted to retain the architectural character of the original structure. The nave is of 11th century date, and the whole of the remaining height of the north wall and parts of the south wall are built with masonry laid in `herringbone' fashion. The lower part of an 11th century window survives to the east of the south doorway, indicating that the original lights were set high in the wall and were narrow, with widely splayed internal jambs. The doorway has a large tufa lintel, an internal rebate for the door, and a semicircular relieving arch of tufa voussoirs. The east wall and parts of the north and south walls were rebuilt in the late 12th century, and the lower parts of the windows at the east end of the north and south walls survive. In the east wall, the remains of a small 13th century window, with deeply splayed reveals, retains external rebates for shutters. Below it is one of two infilled aumbreys, the second being midway along the south wall. Two buttresses, one at the east end of the north wall and a second midway along it, at the junction of the nave and chancel, are probably 13th century additions. The tower has two stages and is open to the nave, with no indication of ever having had an east wall. Its junction with the west wall of the chapel retains tufa quoins to first floor level. There are two wall mountings for tablets inside the ground floor, which has an inserted square window with an internal timber lintel and a timber frame. Above it is an original narrow rectangular light, also with an internal timber lintel. The tower's south wall retains another small, square headed window. The 20th century tombs in the north eastern part of the churchyard are totally excluded from the scheduling. All English Heritage fixtures and fittings are excluded from the scheduling, but 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:
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Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Worcestershire: Volume III, (1908), 274
The Victoria History of the County of Worcestershire: Volume III, (1908), 273
photo in St Mary's Church, (1899)


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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