Ancient Monuments

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Bury Mount motte castle

A Scheduled Monument in Towcester, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.1333 / 52°7'59"N

Longitude: -0.9883 / 0°59'18"W

OS Eastings: 469341.991332

OS Northings: 248817.209395

OS Grid: SP693488

Mapcode National: GBR 9W5.8XN

Mapcode Global: VHDSH.TMCY

Entry Name: Bury Mount motte castle

Scheduled Date: 3 October 1975

Last Amended: 17 February 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008529

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13623

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Towcester

Built-Up Area: Towcester

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Towcester St Lawrence

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


This monument consists of the motte mound known as Bury Mount and the
earthwork banks and ditches which lie around it. The motte lies on the north-
east side of the town and is located in what was a corner of the Roman town.
The mound of the castle motte is approximately 4m high and 70m in diameter. It
is steep sided and bounded by the River Tove on its north-eastern side.
Remains of a substantial ditch 3m deep and 8m wide are visible on the west
side of the motte and indicate that originally the mound may have been
surrounded by a continuous ditch with access being gained by a bridge. On the
south side of the motte are the remains of an earthwork bank. At present the
site is covered with trees and dense undergrowth.
Records show that this area was the centre of extensive royal estate, and it
is considered that the castle was constructed by the Crown in the late 11th
century. The motte is known to have been altered during the Civil War by
Prince Rupert, and this could be the origin of the earthwork banks which lie
at the southern end of the mound.
All above ground buildings, that is the ruined brick cottage on the motte and
the outbuildings of the houses on Moat Lane and the store of the agricultural
engineering premises, and the made-up roadways are excluded from the
scheduling but the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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.

Bury Mount at Towcester is a well preserved example of a small round motte
castle situated within an urban location to maintain control over local
communications. The castle had important royal connections in the early
medieval period and also preserves earthwork fortifications known from
documentary evidence to have originated in the Civil War. The motte stands
within the area of the Roman town of Lactodorum and therefore is very likely
to preserve archaeological evidence of occupation on this site from the Roman
to post medieval periods.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, , RCHM on Northants

Source: Historic England

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