Motte castle 280m south of New Buildings Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016354

Date first listed: 31-Jan-1997


Ordnance survey map of Motte castle 280m south of New Buildings Farm
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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: Kentchurch

National Grid Reference: SO 42162 27001


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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 280m south of New Buildings Farm is a well-preserved example of this class of monument, with an unusual ancillary earthwork. Both mounds will preserve evidence for their method of construction, including post holes for revetments and palisades, and for the tower which surmounted the motte. Evidence for structures such as a bridge will be preserved in the ditch. The ditch deposits will also contain environmental evidence relating to the activities which took place at the monument, and for land use in the surrounding area. The old ground surface sealed beneath the mounds will preserve evidence for land use immediately prior to the motte's construction. In its strategic position above the Monnow Valley, the monument forms part of the wider picture of the medieval defences in 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 a small promontory near the head of the south east facing valley of a tributary of the River Monnow. The remains include an earthen motte mound, oval in plan, with steep sides that rise to a roughly level summit measuring c.40m north-south by 25m east-west. Material for the construction of the mound will have been obtained from the ditch which surrounds it on all but the south west side, where the ground drops steeply to the brook. The ditch averages 5m wide, and is most clearly visible on the north side, where it survives up to 2m deep. Access to the motte appears to have been via a causeway across the ditch in the north east quarter. South of this the ditch is less distinct, and diverts westwards from its circuit to enclose a detached earthen mound roughly 15m north west-south east by 6m transversely. The shallow ditch continues round the south side of this second mound and past the south end of the motte, making the south east corner of the ditch somewhat angular. The summit of the motte is c.4m above the base of the ditch, and is also obscured by vegetation. However, three platforms were recorded in 1931, and these will represent the remains of the structures which occupied the motte. The motte 280m south of New Buildings Farm sits in a line between two similar mottes, at Howton Farm some 2.5km to the NNW (the subject of a separate scheduling, SM 27522), and at Corras 2km to the south. Two further monuments at the mouth of the valley, a medieval moated site (SM27540) and Kentchurch Court, which has 14th century origins, place the monument in a sequence of lordly occupation, which culminated in the post-medieval development of Kentchurch Court.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 0 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: 27546

Legacy System: RSM


RCHME, RCHME Herefordshire, Volume 1, (1931)

End of official listing