Motte castle at Motley's Copse


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019111

Date first listed: 05-Feb-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Nov-2000


Ordnance survey map of Motte castle at Motley's Copse
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hampshire

District: East Hampshire (District Authority)

Parish: Rowlands Castle

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: SU 72291 12064


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

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 at Motleys Copse survives well, despite some disturbance caused by later quarrying. It can be expected to retain important archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the original construction of the monument and its later use. It forms part of a group of three or four well preserved mottes and ringworks, including Rowlands Castle to the south east, which lie in close proximity within the boundaries of the medieval forest of Bere and for which documentary evidence survives of an historical association with Robert, Earl of Arundel.


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


The monument includes a small motte, probably dating to the 11th or 12th century, situated on level ground within Motleys Copse near Rowlands Castle. It includes a roughly circular inner platform, 12m in diameter, enclosed by a flat topped earthen bank, 8m wide and up to 0.8m high, and an outer ditch, 9m wide and 0.5m deep. The inner platform is elevated up to 1.3m above the surrounding woodland, with no trace of internal features. A possible original entrance is indicated by a slight lowering of the bank on the northern side and a causeway, 7m wide, across the outer ditch. To the south east, the ditch has been widened away from the motte, possibly as a result of later quarrying, to form a shallow pond, up to 2m deep and 12m across. Although undated, the motte is probably broadly contemporary with a larger ringwork and bailey situated 200m to the north east, which is the subject of a separate scheduling. Both of these monuments fall within the boundaries of the medieval royal hunting forest of Bere and form part of the Hundred of Finchdean owned by Robert, Earl of Arundel. The motte may therefore represent a small seige castle erected against the ringwork and bailey by Henry I before he banished Robert of Arundel from the kingdom in 1101. The modern fence posts which cross the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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: 32547

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cox, P W, The survey and excavation of earthworks near Motley's Copse, (1984)
Williams-Freeman, JP, Introduction to field archaeology as illustrated by Hampshire, (1915), 379
Hughes, M F, 'Landscape Hist' in Hampshire Castles and the Landscape 1066-1216, , Vol. 11, (1989), 39,56

End of official listing