Little Shrawardine motte and bailey castle


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


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

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
Alberbury with Cardeston
National Grid Reference:
SJ 39280 15206

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Little Shrawardine motte and bailey castle is a well-preserved example of this class of monument, despite damage to the north eastern side of the bailey. The buried remains of the structures that stood on the motte and within the bailey are expected to survive, which together with the associated artefacts and organic remains, will provide valuable evidence about the activities and the life style of the inhabitants. Organic remains surviving under the motte and the bailey bank, and within the ditches, will also provide information about the changes to the local environment and the use of the land before and after the castle was constructed. The importance of the monument is further enhanced by its association with the motte and bailey castle at Shrawardine and its military role during World War II. The monument remains a prominent feature within the landscape.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte and bailey castle, situated next to the steep southern bank of the River Severn, with a commanding position of the flood plain of the river to the north and west. It is believed to have controlled a crossing point across the Severn and to have regulated river traffic approaching Shrewsbury from the west. A second motte and bailey castle, 800m to the north east, on the northern side of the river is considered to have served a similar function and is the subject of a separate scheduling. The commanding views from the top of the motte at Little Shrawardine led to its use during World War II as an observation post.

The flat-topped, steep-sided oval motte stands about 9m high and measures approximately 45m by 60m across at its base and 12m by 16m across the top. It is surrounded by a ditch, except on its northern side where there is a thin strip of land adjoining the river, which regularly floods in winter. The southern part of the ditch is considerably deeper than that to north. The bailey, which lies to the north east of the motte, measures 40m by 65m internally (maximum dimensions). The north western side coincides with the steep escarpment above the river, and its south western side is defined by a low bank, which survives to a height of 0.8m. Although no longer visible at ground level, an external ditch, approximately 5m wide, survives next to the bank. It has become infilled over the years and survives as a buried feature. The north eastern side of the bailey has been truncated by a steep cutting for former railway sidings and is thus not included in the scheduling.

All fences and gates, the water trough at the base of the motte, the water tanks and the beehive on top of the motte are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features 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.

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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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