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were superseded by other types of castle.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
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.