King John's Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018859

Date first listed: 19-Aug-1959

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Feb-1999


Ordnance survey map of King John's Castle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Warwickshire

District: Stratford-on-Avon (District Authority)

Parish: Kineton

National Grid Reference: SP 32980 50925


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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

King John's Castle survives well and represents a good example of this class of monument. Both the motte and the bailey area to the north east are thought to retain buried structural and artefactual evidence for the buildings which originally existed here, and will provide information regarding the activities and status of the site's inhabitants. Additionally, the silted motte ditch will retain archaeological deposits relating to the economy of the inhabitants and the environment in which they lived.

The motte and bailey castle is accessible to the public and serves as a valuable public amenity.


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


The monument is situated close to the River Dene, on the south western outskirts of Kineton, and includes the earthwork and buried remains of King John's Castle, a motte and bailey castle. It is thought that Richard I granted Kineton to his brother John in the late 12th century who in turn granted it to Stephen de Seagrave in c.1216.

The motte is located at the south eastern end of the bailey and has been artificially raised. The flat-topped mound has a diameter of 44m at its base and stands some 2m high. It is surrounded by a ditch which separates the motte from the bailey to the north east and is most visible on the north side of the motte. Most of its circuit has become infilled over time, but the ditch will survive as a buried feature. The bailey has a `D'-shaped plan and is thought to have originally been bounded by a bank, which remains visible in places as a low, intermittent earthwork, and possible a wall. Until recent years the bailey was occupied by allotments and now takes the form of a raised, levelled area with the ground falling away gradually beyond.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 21638

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeologiacl Society' in Castles in Warwickshire, , Vol. 67, (1947), 11

End of official listing