Whittington Castle


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


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1019450.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 24-Jul-2021 at 12:57:04.


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

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 32539 31132

Reasons for Designation

An enclosure castle is a defended residence or stronghold, built mainly of stone, in which the principal or sole defence comprises the walls and towers bounding the site. Some form of keep may have stood within the enclosure but this was not significant in defensive terms and served mainly to provide accommodation. Larger sites might have more than one line of walling and there are normally mural towers and gatehouses. Outside the walls a ditch, either waterfilled or dry, crossed by bridges may be found. The first enclosure castles were constructed at the time of the Norman Conquest. However, they developed considerably in form during the 12th century when defensive experience gained during the Crusades was applied to their design. The majority of examples were constructed in the 13th century although a few were built as late as the 14th century. Some represent reconstructions of earlier medieval earthwork castles of the motte and bailey type, although others were new creations. They provided strongly defended residences for the king or leading families and occur in both urban and rural situations. Enclosure castles are widely dispersed throughout England, with a slight concentration in Kent and Sussex supporting a vulnerable coast, and a strong concentration along the Welsh border where some of the best examples were built under Edward I. They are rare nationally with only 126 recorded examples. Considerable diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and defence and with respect to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples retaining significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally important.

Whittington Castle is a well preserved example of an enclosure castle which evolved from its origins as a motte and bailey castle into a compact fortified stronghold. Buried structural and artefactual evidence relating to the original castle will contain valuable information on the less well documented early history and occupation of the site, whilst partial excavation has recovered evidence for the later phases in the castle's development during the 13th century. The importance of water as a medieval defensive feature is clearly seen within the marshland, in particular, contributing to the fortification of the castle. In addition, the accumulated silts within the ditches and the moat provide conditions suitable for the preservation of environmental evidence and artefacts relating to the castle's occupation and the landscape in which it was set. The buried remains of the late 18th century ornamental garden centred on the castle ruins will provide unusual information reflecting the contemporary preoccupation with archaeological sites and antiquity. As a site open to the public, Whittington Castle is a valuable educational resource and public amenity.


The monument is situated within the village of Whittington and includes the standing, earthwork and buried remains of Whittington Castle, a motte and bailey and an enclosure castle, and the earthwork remains of its associated water control features. The standing remains of the castle are a Listed Building Grade I. The original castle at Whittington was a motte and bailey which was replaced by a fortified keep in the early 13th century. The castle defences were strengthened by a series of banks and ditches to the west and south, a moat to the east and an area of marshland to the north. The southern defences originally continued eastwards but this area has been affected by modern development and is not therefore included in the scheduling. Documentary sources indicate that the castle was fortified against Stephen in 1138 and that Henry II granted aid to Roger de Powys for the castle's repair in 1173. Fulke Fitz Warine was confirmed in possession of Whittington Castle by King John in 1204 and granted a licence to crenellate in 1221. Two years later it was unsuccessfully besieged by Llewellyn the Great, suggesting that the castle was fully defensible by this time. The castle was decayed, but nearly entire, when surveyed in 1545; it was later granted to the Earl of Arundel, but subsequently fell into ruin and was robbed for its materials. In the late 18th century the castle site was laid out as a garden with pebble-laid pathways and brick structures and the outer gatehouse was repaired. The buried features of this garden provide interesting evidence for the 18th century reuse of the site and are included in the scheduling. The oval flat-topped mound in the central part of the site is believed to represent the remains of the original motte castle, with a triangular-shaped bailey immediately to the north and west. The buildings of the late 11th or early 12th century castle are thought to have been timber structures which were subsequently replaced by stone built ones. The inner court is located to the east of the motte and consists of a rectangular raised platform, enclosed by a curtain wall with the remains of semi-circular towers at each corner and an additional tower at the north west angle, which formed part of the inner gatehouse. The foundations of several buildings have been located during excavations within the inner court, including those of a central rectangular keep and a hall building to the east. To the north west of the inner court is a small outer court which occupies the south eastern corner of the original bailey. A small mound at the southern end of the latter is thought to have supported the northern end of the bridge which originally provided access into inner court. The outer court was partly defended by a curtain wall, a short length of which survives along the north east side of the court together with the ruins of two semi-circular towers, and by a moat to the east and south east, which remains waterfilled. It would have originally been occupied by additional buildings, including stables and ancillary buildings, the buried remains of which will survive beneath the ground surface. At the eastern end of the outer court is the outer gatehouse, built of regularly coursed and dressed grey limestone, which has been restored several times since the 1800s. It consists of two D-shaped towers that flank the arched entranceway and is approached by a coursed limestone rubble bridge. A timber-framed cottage, thought to date from the 16th century but with later alterations, has been built behind the north tower. The 19th century extension to the south gatehouse tower, as well as the gatehouse and cottage, which are both Listed Buildings Grade I, the modern toilet block, the modern staircase to the inner court, all fence posts, floodlights, concrete and tarmac surfaces, modern walling, electricity poles and support cables and the footbridge across the stream are all excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Atkins, W S Consultants Ltd, Whittington Castle, (1999), 7
Salter, M, Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire, (1988), 70-2
Skyes, H, The Story of Whittington Castle, (1902), 12-13
Eyton, R W, 'Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society' in The Castles of Shropshire and its borders, , Vol. 10, (1887), 17-18


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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].