Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Castle Hill, a motte and bailey castle and Saxon burial 50m west of Castle Hill House

A Scheduled Monument in Terriers and Amersham Hill, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.6312 / 51°37'52"N

Longitude: -0.7484 / 0°44'54"W

OS Eastings: 486725.066038

OS Northings: 193225.867926

OS Grid: SU867932

Mapcode National: GBR D54.PM7

Mapcode Global: VHDW4.Z87D

Entry Name: Castle Hill, a motte and bailey castle and Saxon burial 50m west of Castle Hill House

Scheduled Date: 3 January 1961

Last Amended: 12 October 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009537

English Heritage Legacy ID: 19059

County: Buckinghamshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Terriers and Amersham Hill

Built-Up Area: High Wycombe

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: High Wycombe All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes the remains of a medieval motte and bailey castle and
the site of a Saxon burial. The motte is situated on a steep south facing
slope sited to command the Wye valley to the south, a natural south-east to
north-west routeway. Though little is known of the early history of the site,
a castle is recorded at Wycombe as being held by Robert de Vipont, lord of the
Manor of Temple Wycombe, during the reign of King John. Today the motte
survives as a large mound up to 7m high and with dimensions at the base of
some 110m north-east to south-west by 80m north-west to south-east. The
south-eastern quarter of the mound is concave giving a crescent shape to the
plan of the motte. This suggests that either the motte was not completed, or
more probably, that at some point in the history of the site this part has
been quarried away, possibly as part of a landscaping scheme associated with
the later house. The summit of the mound is today disturbed and reduced
in area, though in its original form would have been sufficiently large to
support a substantial tower. A modern summer house of wood and flint
construction stood on the summit until 1962 when it was removed. Surrounding
the base of the mound would have been a substantial ditch from which the
material for the construction of the motte was quarried; only slight
indications of this are today discernible on the north and east sides of the
motte. Around the north this would have cut across the main slope, isolating
the motte from the higher ground to the north. A well on the lawn to the
south of the present house, the most likely site for a bailey, is by tradition
associated with the castle. A crescent shaped scarp around a sunken lawn and
a substantial linear bank in this southern area appear to be later features
associated with the house and its landscaped gardens. Finds from the area of
the motte itself have included several large arrows found in 1820 and some 60
Finds recorded early in the 19th century as being made in an area to the
south-east of the motte, in the vicinity of the entrance drive to Castle Hill
House, included the skeleton of a man who had been buried with a necklace of
glass beads, a Kentish gold pendant and an iron weapon. This is believed to
have been a burial of Saxon date. All modern buildings, structures, modern
boundary features and metalled surfaces are excluded from the scheduling
though the ground beneath each is included.

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

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.

Castle Hill motte and bailey, though modified by later landscaping, survives
as a very substantial earthwork and landscape feature of considerable
significance to the historical development of the area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Parker, J, Early History and Antiquities of Wycombe, (1878), 4-5
Parker, J, Early History and Antiquities of Wycombe, (1878)
Renn, D F, Norman Castles in Britain, (1968)
Card no 0607.00.000,
Card no SU 89 SE 15,
Museum Guide phamplet,
Pagination 197, RCHME, Bucks 1,
Pagination 917, Sheahan,

Source: Historic England

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