Motte and bailey castle 130m north west of Manor Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Motte and bailey castle 130m north west of Manor Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Stratford-on-Avon (District Authority)
Ratley and Upton
National Grid Reference:
SP 38104 47309

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 castle 130m north west of Manor Farm survives well and is a good example of this type of monument. Archaeological excavations within the northern bailey have revealed structural and artefactual remains dating from the 12th and 13th centuries and further evidence of medieval structures and for the economy of the castle's inhabitants will exist beneath the ground surface. Only a small proportion of the site has been excavated and substantial deposits will thus survive undisturbed.


The monument is situated on the south western outskirts of the village of Ratley and includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte and bailey castle.

The castle occupies a commanding position on a small hill where the ground falls away steeply on all sides. The flat-topped motte is located in the central part of the site and has been artificially raised. It measures 13m across its summit and stands approximately 6m above the surrounding ditch. The motte has two associated baileys, one to the north west; the other lies south east of the motte. The former has a `D'-shaped plan and is bounded by an earthen bank and a rock-cut ditch, whilst the southern bailey measures approximately 20m across and is enclosed by an irregular bank which is most evident along the east side. Small-scale excavations between 1968 and 1973 of the northern bailey have provided evidence for the occupation of the castle and demonstrated that part of this bailey has been slightly modified by later quarrying. The footings of a stone structure were located at the northernmost edge of the bailey. Artefacts recovered during the excavation include 12th and 13th century pottery and fragments of bronze. Archaeological investigation of the break in the northern bailey bank indicated that this is a modern gap rather than the original entrance and the medieval access into the castle is believed to have been by means of a bridge.

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.

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Books and journals
Wilson, D M, Hurst, G, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Warwickshire: Ratley and Upton, , Vol. 13, (1969), 260


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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