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Aldford motte and bailey and shell keep castle

A Scheduled Monument in Aldford and Saighton, Cheshire West and Chester

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.1298 / 53°7'47"N

Longitude: -2.8699 / 2°52'11"W

OS Eastings: 341889.812587

OS Northings: 359533.033037

OS Grid: SJ418595

Mapcode National: GBR 7B.6Z83

Mapcode Global: WH88M.WLKH

Entry Name: Aldford motte and bailey and shell keep castle

Scheduled Date: 26 February 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007605

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22486

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Civil Parish: Aldford and Saighton

Built-Up Area: Aldford

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Aldford St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Chester

Details

The monument at Aldford is a motte and bailey castle modified by the later
addition of a shell keep castle. The site is stratigically situated 500m south
of a crossing point of the River Dee that has been in use since Roman times,
and includes a sub-rectangular flat-topped motte measuring 35m by 33m that is
surrounded by a substantial dry ditch, up to 40m wide and 5.8m deep. South of
the motte ditch is a triangular bailey that includes an area of 4250 sq.m. The
bailey is flanked by a dry ditch up to 19m wide and 2.5m deep which remains
visible on the eastern and western sides. Upcast from this ditch has been used
to create banks either side of the bailey's eastern ditch and adjacent to the
largely infilled southern arm. An outer bank also flanks the ditch east of the
motte. Foundation stones of the curtain wall of the later shell keep castle
are exposed just below the crest of the motte on the southern and eastern
sides and there are small mounds of rubble at the south-east and north-east
corners of the motte.
The motte and bailey was constructed in about the mid 12th century. Robert de
Aldford subsequently refortified the castle in stone just before or during the
reign of Henry II (1154-89). The castle passed to the Ardene family in the
early 13th century and then to the Stanleys in 1464 before being purchased by
Sir William Brereton during the early 16th century. By the 18th century the
castle had fallen into decay and passed to the Grosvenor family who made a
landscape feature of the earthworks by planting trees, filling the motte and
bailey ditch with water, and constructing a cistern house or bathhouse in the
bailey ditch.
All walls and fences are excluded from the scheduling. The ground beneath
them, however, 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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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 at Aldford is one of a group of early
post-conquest motte and baileys forming a defensive system, the aim of which
was to curb Welsh raids on the rich farming areas of Cheshire. Its earthworks
are well preserved and the monument is the best surviving example of a Norman
castle in Cheshire. It will retain considerable detail of its original form
and the buildings which lay within it. Additionally it is a rare example in
the county of a motte and bailey later modified in stone as a shell keep
castle.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Chambers, J F, The Motte and Bailey Castles of Dodleston, Pulford and Aldford, (1990), 57
Chambers, J F, The Motte and Bailey Castles of Dodleston, Pulford and Aldford, (1990), 57
Sale, B, Turner, R, The Motte and Bailey at Aldford, (1985), 2
Sale, B, Turner, R, The Motte and Bailey at Aldford, (1985), 4
Sale, B, Turner, R, The Motte and Bailey at Aldford, (1985), 1
Ormerod, G, 'History Of Cheshire' in The History of Cheshire, (1819), 757-8
Ormerod, G, 'History Of Cheshire' in The History of Cheshire, (1819), 757-8
Other
Leach, P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Motte & Bailey Castles, (1988)
Leach,P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Shell Keep Castles, (1988)
SMR No 1836/1, Sale, B and Turner, R, The Motte and Bailey at Aldford, (1985)
SMR No 1836/1, Sale, B and Turner, R, The Motte and Bailey at Aldford, (1985)
SMR No 1836/1, Sale, B and Turner, R, The Motte and Bailey at Aldford, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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