Mouse motte and bailey castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019488

Date first listed: 26-Sep-1952

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Jul-2000


Ordnance survey map of Mouse motte and bailey castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Cusop

National Grid Reference: SO 24837 42453


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

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

The remains at Mouse Castle preserve an unusual Norman motte, in good condition with little evidence of recent disturbance. The castle will preserve evidence for the internal composition of its earthworks, as well as for the accommodation provided on the motte and within the bailey. This will help further study of the functions and the relationships of high status and defensive settlements within a frontier region during the early years of the Norman Conquest. Surviving environmental deposits will provide insights into the landscape in which the monument was constructed.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte and bailey castle known as Mouse Castle, located on a natural headland with steeply sloping sides in all directions except to the north east where the land falls away more gently. The castle includes a motte standing 4m to 5m high and measuring 15m to 20m in diameter on the summit and approximately 50m in diameter around the base. This is surrounded by a ditch 4m to 5m wide and 1m to 3m deep which is best preserved on the northern side, with traces of a counterscarp bank on the north side. A further outer rampart measuring 10m to 12m wide and up to 3m high survives to the north and east. To the south east of the motte are the remains of the entrance to the complex including a large hollow way cutting through the outer ramparts. The monument is one of a number of medieval defensive sites located in strategic positions above the Wye Valley and is believed to have been constructed by Roger De Lacy, although its unusual form has led to suggestions that the castle may have been remodelled from a pre-existing Iron Age hill fort. The natural topography, however, suggests that the motte is formed from an outcrop enhanced by quarrying and the construction of the earthen ramparts. The modern post and wire fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 30080

Legacy System: RSM


unpublished notes in SMR, Various SMR and CAO officers, Mouse Castle,

End of official listing