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were superseded by other types of castle.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