Pan Castle: a motte and bailey castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020286

Date first listed: 07-Jul-1958

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Sep-2001


Ordnance survey map of Pan Castle: a motte and bailey castle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Whitchurch Urban

National Grid Reference: SJ 52577 40370


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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 motte and bailey castle known as Pan Castle is a well-preserved example of this class of monument. The small-scale excavation has demonstrated that extensive buried remains of structures that stood on the motte and within the bailey can be expected to survive. Buried structures, together with associated artefacts and organic remains, will provide valuable evidence about the activities and lifestyles of those who inhabited the site. In addition, organic remains preserved in the buried ground surfaces beneath the motte, the external bank and the bailey rampart, and deposited within the ditches, will provide information about the local environment and the use of the land prior to and following the construction of the motte and bailey castle. The importance of the castle is enhanced by its proximity to, and contemporary association with, the nearby medieval settlement at Whitchurch.


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, occupying a low-lying position in an area of undulating and formerly marshy land. From this location there are extensive views to the east and north east, including the nearby town of Whitchurch where an early medieval castle is also known to have been built. The oval, steep-sided, flat-topped motte measures approximately 62m by 78m at its base and 47m by 60m across the top and stands to a height of 4.5m. It is surrounded by a waterlogged ditch, between 7m and 15m wide, and a large outer bank, averaging 17m wide and up to 1.2m high. Within the northern part of the ditch is a causeway. As part of a small-scale archaeological investigation conducted in 1916 this causeway was partly excavated and the remains of a bridge were found. Occupying the sloping ground to the south of the motte is a large parallelogram-shaped bailey. The earthwork defences enclose an area of nearly 2ha. It is defined on the western and southern sides by a rampart between 7m and 13m wide, and standing up to 1.5m high, with an external ditch averaging 14m wide which retains water. To the east the bailey is defined by a scarp up to 1m high. The adjacent external ditch has been infilled and is no longer visible at ground level, but will survive as a buried feature about 12m wide. The northern side is bounded by a natural depression where the slopes appear to have been deliberately accentuated in places. Across this depression a raised causeway has been constructed, which probably connected to a bridge providing access to the motte. On the western side of the bailey, about the mid-point, there is a break in the defences, which has been enlarged in modern times but may represent the site of an original entranceway into the bailey. The causeway across the south west corner of the defences is entirely modern. A series of drainage ditches cutting across the bailey and the low-lying surrounding ground appear to be post-medieval and modern in date. Within the bailey, on the eastern side, are the remains of two small rectangular ponds, constructed to provide water for livestock. All fence posts, the water trough and the surrounding concrete slabs, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features 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.


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

Legacy System number: 34912

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cathcart-King, D J, Castellarium Anglicanum, (1983), 432,434
Copy of letter with map in SMR, Thompson, E, Letter to HE Forrest, (1916)

End of official listing