Motte castle immediately west of St John the Baptist's Church


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Motte castle immediately west of St John the Baptist's Church
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2020. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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This copy shows the entry on 31-Mar-2020 at 08:24:03.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Oxfordshire (District Authority)
South Moreton
National Grid Reference:
SU 55732 88026

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 immediately west of St John the Baptist's Church survives well as a good example of its class and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction and the landscape in which it was built. In addition, its close proximity to the church and its focal role in the development of the village add to its importance and will provide evidence for the economic and social history of the village.


The monument includes a ditched motte castle situated immediately west of St John the Baptist's Church on the northern bank of a canalised stream known as `Mill Brook' in South Moreton. The castle consists of a large roughly circular mound or motte, surrounded on all but part of the western side by a broad, deep ditch which both provided material during the construction of the mound and enhanced its defensive capability. This ditch could be either dry or filled with water from the adjacent stream as required. The motte stands 4m high and measures approximately 40m in diameter at its summit and around 50m across at its base. The ditch is 15m wide and although partially infilled as a result of soil erosion, still stands 2m deep in places and would originally have been up to 3m or more in depth. The gap on the western side which formed an entranceway measures 10m wide and would have contained a wooden stockaded gateway to control access. Excluded from the scheduling are all boundary fences, although the ground beneath 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:
Legacy System:


SU 58 NE 22, Ordnance Survey, Motte,


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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