Middleton Mount motte and bailey castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016481

Date first listed: 30-Nov-1925

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Mar-1999


Ordnance survey map of Middleton Mount motte and bailey castle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: King's Lynn and West Norfolk (District Authority)

Parish: Middleton

National Grid Reference: TF 66099 16439


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 known as Middleton Mount remains an impressive monument, and the limited excavations carried out on the site have demonstrated the survival, below the ground surface, of a substantial bailey ditch. The motte, the fill of the bailey ditch and the buried remains of the bailey will retain archaeological information concerning the date and manner of the construction of the castle and its subsequent occupation, including evidence for the tower on the motte. The remains of earlier occupation which were also noted during the course of the excavation and which are likely to survive particularly well in the soils buried beneath the mound, give the monument additional interest.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte and bailey castle which is located about 480m NNW of St Mary's Church and the centre of the village of Middleton, on the edge of a rise commanding a view of the lower ground to the west, north and south west. Underlying the castle there are buried remains relating to earlier occupation of the site, probably during the Late Saxon period.

The motte is visible as a steep-sided, sub-circular mound, approximately 45m in diameter and 10m in height measured from the present ground level, and is encircled by a ditch approximately 8m wide which remains open to a depth of about 2.5m. At the top of the mound is a platform measuring approximately 9m across east-west on which would have stood a timber tower. A semi-circular hollow in the northern side of the platform may be the result of later quarrying. Limited excavations have established that the bailey adjoined the motte on the eastern side and took the form of a sub-rectangular enclosure with internal dimensions of about 58m north west-south east by 36m north east-south west, and an entrance at the north east corner. It was surrounded on the north west, north east and south east sides by a ditch which ran outward from the ditch around the motte, and this would have been accompanied by an internal bank constructed of the material dug from the ditch. The bank has been levelled, but the ditch, although completely infilled and no longer visible, survives as a buried feature about 3m deep and varying in width from about 5m to 13m. Overlying the south western end of the ditch and its junction with the motte are the remains of a later pond, marked by a rectangular depression embanked around the north east corner, and there is a later quarry pit to the north of the motte.

Evidence for occupation of the site prior to the construction of the castle bailey was recovered during the excavation of a small area adjacent to the bailey ditch and included remains of part of a substantial timber building.

It is possible that the castle was constructed soon after the Norman Conquest but fragments of pottery recovered during the excavation show that it was occupied during the first half of the 12th century, and it may well date from the time of the civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud (1139- 1153) when many unlicensed castles were built. The castle would have been associated with one of the four medieval manors recorded in Middleton - probably the one later known as Castlehall Manor, which was held at the time of the Domesday Survey by William de Ecouis and subsequently passed by marriage to the Earls of Clare. By the mid-14th century it was in the hands of the Scales family, whose principal manor was centred at Middleton Tower moated site, 1.3km to the north west of the castle.

All modern fences and gates and an information board near the site of the entrance to the bailey are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 30551

Legacy System: RSM


A, NAU TF 6616/J, (1977)
Rogerson, A, (1998)
Title: Middleton, Tithe Map Source Date: 1839 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: NRO ref. PD640/15

End of official listing