Motte castle adjacent to St Michael's Church

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019296

Date first listed: 18-Feb-1953

Date of most recent amendment: 03-Jul-2000

Map

Ordnance survey map of Motte castle adjacent to St Michael's Church
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

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

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: West Felton

National Grid Reference: SJ 34056 25236

Summary

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 adjacent to St Michael's Church is a well-preserved example of this class of monument, which has been subsequently adapted both to prolong its military role and as a possible prospect mound. The archaeological investigation has provided significant information about the monument's construction. The motte will retain buried evidence relating to the nature of occupation and the types of structures built upon its summit. Organic remains preserved within both mounds, in the buried ground surfaces beneath them, and within the ditches, will provide valuable evidence about the local environment and the use of the land before and after the motte castle was constructed. The importance of the monument is further enhanced by its association with the neighbouring 12th century church.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle situated next to the 12th century church of St Michael. The castle was probably built in the late 11th century when the manor of West Felton formed part of the land held by Roger de Montgomery. The castle mound was constructed on a gradual west facing slope and is surrounded by gently undulating land with extensive views of the Oswestry uplands and the Welsh hills to the west. It is roughly circular, about 46m in diameter at its base and 34m across the top, and stands 3.2m high. It is surrounded by a ditch, between 12m and 16m wide, the eastern half of which is filled with water. Archaeological recording in advance of earthwork repairs to the monument in 1995 demonstrated that the mound was built of earth, but incorporated layers of turf.

At a later date a smaller circular mound was built on top of the main mound at its centre. This later feature is about 18m in diameter, has a flat top approximately 10m across and stands 1.8m high. The investigation of the site in 1995 revealed that it was constructed in a similar manner to the main mound. It is surrounded by a ditch, now largely infilled, but which is still clearly visible as an earthwork on its western side where it is approximately 6m wide and 0.3m deep. The position of the smaller mound and the nature of its construction suggests that it was probably built as the base for a watchtower, which was given additional protection by utilising the existing fortification.

The motte, and in particular the smaller mound, may have served as a prospect mound on which a summerhouse might have been built for the neighbouring manor house, now Manor Farm. A footbridge across the ditch, with a flight of steps up the main mound, provided a direct link between the castle site and the house.

A stone wall of 18th or 19th century date built to revet the eastern half of the motte and the stone steps are included in the scheduling.

The track that runs alongside the eastern part of the ditch and all fence posts 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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 33811

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Rowley, R T, The Shropshire Landscape, (1972), 74
Hannaford, H R, 'Archaeology Service Report' in Motte At West Felton: Archaeol Recording Of Earthwork Repairs, (1995)

End of official listing