Ancient Monuments

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Motte and bailey castle 50m to the west of St Michael's church.

A Scheduled Monument in Smethcott, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.5894 / 52°35'21"N

Longitude: -2.8151 / 2°48'54"W

OS Eastings: 344876.653286

OS Northings: 299372.716285

OS Grid: SO448993

Mapcode National: GBR BF.9ZKT

Mapcode Global: WH8CC.Q5PR

Entry Name: Motte and bailey castle 50m to the west of St Michael's church.

Scheduled Date: 20 August 1974

Last Amended: 17 May 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008394

English Heritage Legacy ID: 19145

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Smethcott

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Smethcote St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork remains of a motte and bailey castle
situated on the summit of a ridge lying roughly east to west with gentle
slopes to the north and steep slopes to the south. The earthworks include a
well defined motte with a base diameter of 40m rising 2.8m to a flat topped
summit 16m in diameter. The bailey lies on the south side of the motte and is
an oval enclosure with dimensions of 50m north to south by 35m east to west
bounded by a well defined scarp slope varying between 1.2m and 1.7m high.
There is no visible trace of a ditch surrounding the motte from which the
material for its construction would have been quarried though one survives as
a buried feature with a width of 3m. Similarly the outer ditch surrounding the
bailey is not visible at ground level, though it will survive as a buried
feature with a width of 3m.
Excavations carried out at the monument in 1956-58 revealed the existence
of the motte ditch, a timber structure on the summit of the motte and stone
foundations outside of the ditch on the east side. Finds made at that time,
including some whole cooking pots, indicated that the site was occupied in the
12th and 13th centuries.
Excluded from scheduling is the cattle shelter at the south west corner of the
bailey but the ground beneath is included.

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 to the west of Smethcott church survives well and
is a good example of its class. Partial excavations on the site have
demonstrated the survival in good condition of further evidence relating to
the occupation of the site. Environmental evidence relating to the
landscape in which the castle was constructed will survive sealed beneath the
mound and in the ditch fill. Such motte and bailey castles contribute
information concerning the settlement pattern, economy and social structure of
the countryside and in this respect the close physical relationship between
the castle and the church is also of interest.

Source: Historic England


SMR Record 219,

Source: Historic England

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