The Manwar Ings: remains of a motte and bailey castle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Boston (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TF 24325 40979

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 remains of the motte and bailey castle at The Manwar Ings survive well as a series of substantial earthworks. They are rare in representing one of very few medieval monuments to have survived in an area of intensive modern cultivation. Upstanding earthworks and underlying archaeological deposits, including earlier ground surfaces, will preserve valuable evidence for domestic and economic activity on the site both during the castle's occupation and before. As a result of documentary research the importance of the castle in the medieval period is quite well understood. The association between this site and that of Swineshead Abbey, nearby, provides valuable information about the way in which the two high-status establishments interrelated as contemporary components of the wider medieval landscape.


The monument includes a medieval motte and bailey castle at The Manwar Ings. Situated approximately 1km to the north east of the village of Swineshead, it is believed to have been constructed in the 12th century by the de Gresley family, lords of the manor of Swineshead, who also founded Swineshead Abbey. The castle is referred to in documentary sources of the late 12th and 13th centuries, and artefactual fragments found nearby suggest that it was occupied until at least the 14th century.

The remains of the castle take the form of a series of substantial earthworks and buried features,including a circular motte and bailey with inner and outer moats, now dry. The motte is represented by a raised circular platform, now largely level, standing to a height of nearly 2m above the surrounding fields. On this platform would have stood the domestic and service buildings of the castle, while a slight internal bank may indicate the position of a former wall or palisade. Brick-lined shelters were inserted into the motte during World War II. The motte is surrounded by a deep inner moat about 15m wide, in turn encircled by the bailey which varies between 7m and 15m in width. The inner moat is crossed on the eastern side by an earthen causeway which is believed to occupy the site of a former bridge; a raised area on the bailey at the east end of the causeway may represent the site of a gatehouse.

Surrounding the bailey is an outer moat 7m-10m in width, originally circular in plan but partly truncated on the eastern side by modern ploughing. It is crossed on the north west side by a modern trackway, beneath which it is partly infilled.

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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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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