Ancient Monuments

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'The Moat': a motte and bailey castle 700m west of Mayfield Heath Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Kings Ripton, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.3633 / 52°21'47"N

Longitude: -0.1681 / 0°10'5"W

OS Eastings: 524834.98579

OS Northings: 275495.542669

OS Grid: TL248754

Mapcode National: GBR J2B.SCT

Mapcode Global: VHGLQ.1VHN

Entry Name: 'The Moat': a motte and bailey castle 700m west of Mayfield Heath Farm

Scheduled Date: 22 October 1954

Last Amended: 3 July 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009595

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20432

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Kings Ripton

Traditional County: Huntingdonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Kings Ripton St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes a motte and bailey castle which is situated on a low
plateau some 3km north of the River Ouse at Huntingdon. The motte is an oval
mound 3m high and measuring 24m long by 12m wide which lies to the north of
the bailey. The motte is surrounded by a ditch whose outer edge is
rectangular in plan and which is up to 1.5m deep. The ditch is 10m wide on
three arms but the north-west arm is only 5m wide. There is an outer bank, 4m
wide by 0.5m high, along the south-west, south-east and north-east arms.
Although there are no surface traces of a bank on the north-west arm there is
potential for the survival of below-ground evidence. A small irregularly
shaped bailey 40m long by 15m wide lies on the south-east side of the motte.
Although the bailey ramparts on the eastern side are considered to have been
destroyed by agricultural activity the interior is intact and defences are
still visible on the western and southern sides where they comprise a 0.5m
high bank with a waterlogged outer ditch 7m wide by 1.5m deep. An outlet
channel, 7m wide and 1.5m deep emerges from the south-west of the bailey
ditch. The outer bank on the south-west arm of the motte ditch extends along
the western arm of the bailey and the western edge of the outlet channel.
The motte and bailey is now known as `The Moat' but on older maps is called
`The Mount', helping to confirm its identification as a castle. The monument
is situated at the northern end of the ancient Royal Forest of Sapley.

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.

Despite some modification by agricultural activity, `The Moat' motte and
bailey is essentially well-preserved. The interior of the bailey and the top
of the motte will contain below-ground evidence of building remains, whilst
the ditches and buried landsurface beneath the motte contains silt deposit
from which environmental evidence may be recovered.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Page, E, The Victoria History of the County of Huntingdonshire, (1926)
B H S, (1971)

Source: Historic England

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