Ancient Monuments

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Earls Barton motte castle

A Scheduled Monument in Earls Barton, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.2662 / 52°15'58"N

Longitude: -0.7535 / 0°45'12"W

OS Eastings: 485159.830834

OS Northings: 263841.451138

OS Grid: SP851638

Mapcode National: GBR CXD.VQM

Mapcode Global: VHDS1.W9HM

Entry Name: Earls Barton motte castle

Scheduled Date: 25 January 1927

Last Amended: 19 January 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009510

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13660

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Earls Barton

Built-Up Area: Earls Barton

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Earls Barton All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


Earls Barton motte castle lies beside All Saints Church in the centre of the
The castle motte is an oval, flat-topped mound. It is conical in shape and
about 3m high with a basal diameter of between 60m and 65m. The south of the
motte lies within the closed churchyard of All Saints Church and the north
side of the mound is bounded by a flat-bottomed ditch. The ditch is 3m to 4m
deep and up to 10m wide with traces of an outer bank on its north side; the
east and west ends of the ditch have been partially infilled. The site stands
adjacent to the 10th-century Saxon church tower and it is thought that the
ditch provided a defence around a Saxon manor house with the existing
earthwork being re-used as the motte.
The site is under grass at present and forms part of a recreation ground. All
made-up paths are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is

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 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.

Earls Barton motte castle lies in an unusual position very close to a church
with a rare 10th-century Saxon tower and it is considered that the defensive
ditch of the motte is also of Saxon origin. The site survives in good
condition and has considerable potential for archaeological evidence from the
Saxon to the later medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, , Archaeological Site of Northamptonshire, Volume II, (1979), 40-2

Source: Historic England

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