Motte castle and icehouse 75m north west of Pool House


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Motte castle and icehouse 75m north west of Pool House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 66375 40406

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Although parts of the motte castle 75m north west of Pool House have been modified since the 18th century, it remains a good example of this class of monument. Exposure of archaeological deposits by quarrying has demonstrated that buried remains of the structures that stood on the motte survive. These features, together with the associated artefacts and organic remains, will provide valuable evidence about the activities and the lifestyle of the inhabitants. The castle mound remains a prominent feature within the landscape. Icehouses are subterranean structures specifically designed for the storage of ice, usually removed in winter from ponds and used in summer for preserving food and cooling drinks. Most examples date to the 18th and 19th centuries. Those dating to the late 16th and 17th centuries were built specifically to meet the culinary needs of the upper class. The brick-built icehouse inserted into the castle mound is a well-preserved example of a cup and dome ice well. It provides important evidence about the changing nature of food preparation and consumption by the middle class in this area in the 18th century. It is also an interesting example of an icehouse utilising an existing mound.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle and an 18th century icehouse, situated to the north west of Pool House. The castle is believed to have been the principal holding (or caput) of a Norman lord in the manor of Eldredelei (Alderley) and in the early 12th century was held by the Dunstanvill family. A roughly circular steep-sided glacial mound about 7m high has been adapted and used to form the motte. It is surrounded by undulating land and is approximately 65m in diameter at its base and 35m across the top. The summit of the motte is flat, but rises gradually from the north west to the south east. Quarrying for sand in modern times has modified the eastern and western parts of the motte, which in the early 20th century resulted in the discovery of sherds of 13th century pottery and part of a rim of a bronze cauldron. These artefacts are attributed to the final period of occupation of the castle. They appear to have been associated with a charcoal rich deposit and burnt soil, suggesting that the structures on top of the motte were burnt down. The top of the motte has been used as a dog cemetery. Three in situ grave slabs all date to around 1930. In the 18th century a brick-built icehouse was inserted into the south eastern side of the mound. A barrel-vaulted entrance passage, 5.5m long, leads to a domed ice-chamber, approximately 3m in diameter. This type of icehouse is known as a cup and dome ice well. The lower part of the mound was dug away to form a platform for unloading and loading ice in front of the entrance passage. Some of the earth from the construction of the icehouse was deposited to the east of the platform to form a raised track. The platform and the western end of the trackway, as well as the icehouse itself, are included in the scheduling. The icehouse probably served as the ice store for Pool House, a farmhouse of 16th or 17th century date, extensively altered and extended in the 19th century. The icehouse is a Listed Building Grade II. Ice was probably obtained from the pond within the narrow steep-sided valley to the south of the Pool House. The pond, which is approximately 0.6ha in area, was created by constructing a dam across the valley to the south west of the castle mound to retain the water flowing from the south east. Water levels in the pond are controlled by a sluice in the northern end of the dam. Although it seems likely that the ice was obtained from the pond, the relationship between the icehouse and the pond cannot be proven. Hence the pond is not included in the scheduling. The memorial stones and all fence and gate posts are 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.

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Books and journals
Barker, P A, 'Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society 1957-60' in Med Pot from Sites In Shrops A Group From The Motte At Adderley, , Vol. 56, (1960), 258-62
Chitty, L, 'Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society' in Three Unrecognised Castle Sites in North Shropshire, , Vol. 53, (1949), 91-92


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

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