Ancient Monuments

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South Mimms motte and bailey castle

A Scheduled Monument in Potters Bar Furzefield, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 51.7083 / 51°42'29"N

Longitude: -0.221 / 0°13'15"W

OS Eastings: 523013.851235

OS Northings: 202554.771623

OS Grid: TL230025

Mapcode National: GBR JB5.YRN

Mapcode Global: VHGPZ.4B09

Entry Name: South Mimms motte and bailey castle

Scheduled Date: 21 September 1936

Last Amended: 3 February 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009433

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20625

County: Hertfordshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Potters Bar Furzefield

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: South Mymms

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


South Mimms motte and bailey castle is situated on an east-facing slope
overlooking the Mimmshall Brook, about 1.25km north-west of South Mimms
village. It includes a motte, c.9m in height and 35m in diameter at the base,
in the north-west corner of a kidney-shaped bailey which measures 125m
north-south by 110m east-west and is surrounded by a bank and ditch. The
entrance to the inner bailey was on the south-west side where there is now a
causeway across a ditch and a break in the rampart. There are traces of an
outer bailey to the south.
The castle is thought to have been built by Geoffrey de Mandeville in 1141
with a licence from Matilda and was probably destroyed in 1143.
Excavations carried out by J Kent in 1961-5 revealed that a timbered tower had
been built on the ground with an entrance on the south and that the motte had
then been constructed around the tower with spoil from the defensive ditches.
Pottery from the 13th and 14th centuries was uncovered during the excavation
and suggests that occupation of the site continued after the destruction of
the castle.

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.

South Mimms Castle has a well-documented history dating back to the 12th
century and has associations with royalty. Partial excavation has confirmed
the information from the historical sources. Despite limited disturbance by
excavation, animal burrowing and cultivation, the motte and bailey and its
defences survive in good condition and contain archaeological evidence
relating to the various stages of development of the castle. Additionally,
environmental evidence will give an indication of the nature of the landscape
within which the monument was constructed and the economy of its inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


Information from NAR (TL20 SW 1),
Information from SMR,
Warren, B, Notes of South Mimms Castle Report, (1988)

Source: Historic England

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