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