Ancient Monuments

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Fineshade motte and bailey castle and abbey

A Scheduled Monument in Duddington-with-Fineshade, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.5685 / 52°34'6"N

Longitude: -0.5664 / 0°33'59"W

OS Eastings: 497259.778462

OS Northings: 297703.261487

OS Grid: SP972977

Mapcode National: GBR DV9.TX3

Mapcode Global: WHGM8.8PJT

Entry Name: Fineshade motte and bailey castle and abbey

Scheduled Date: 1 June 1962

Last Amended: 17 February 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009601

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13649

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Duddington-with-Fineshade

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Barrowden and Wakerley St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


The monument known as Fineshade Abbey consists of the earthworks of the motte
and bailey known as Castle Hymel and of the priory which replaced it when the
castle was demolished in about 1200. The motte lay on the higher ground to
the east and the bailey lay on the western side of the site. There is no
trace above ground of the priory but it stood on and around the location of
the later house to the north of the site.
The peripheral bailey of the castle was a semi-circular area lying to the west
and north-west of the motte and now survives as earthworks. A long, curving
bank up to 2.5m high running along the western edge of the site, above a steep
valley, defines the extent of the bailey and below the bank the river runs
into a large lake just north of the site. Within the bailey, platforms and
depressions indicate the presence of former buildings. The priory was
situated to the north of the castle motte within the northern area of the
bailey. The priory church is known to have been located close to the site of
the later house as skeletons and foundations were discovered in this area in
the 18th century. In 1720 an arch of the original priory was still standing.
Records indicate that Castle Hymel belonged to the Engayne family and that the
castle was demolished in about 1200 to allow the building of the Augustinian
Priory of St Mary which was founded by Richard Engayne. The priory was
dissolved in 1536 and the buildings were converted to a residence. In 1749
the residence was demolished and replaced by a large Georgian mansion, remains
of which can still be seen on the site today. Stables were built on a
platform cut into the motte mound. Most of the 18th-century house was pulled
down in 1956 and only the southern part of the house and the stables remain.
The stables and coach house, listed Grade II, have recently been substantially
renovated and the site is under grass.
All made-up roads and pathways, all buildings on the site, including the
stables and coach house, the remains of the 18th-century house and several
large barns, are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath all these
features 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.

The monument at Fineshade is also of significance as an Augustinian monastery
and below ground remains are considered likely to survive of the buildings
which housed the community of monks and lay brothers who occupied the site
from the 13th century until the Dissolution in the 16th century. This was one
of some 700 or so post-Conquest monasteries in England, of which some 225
belonged to the Augustinian order.
Fineshade Abbey has a very well documented history covering successive phases
of occupation and use, as a castle and then as a monastery, for well over 500
years. The site is largely unaffected by modern development and will retain
archaeological evidence showing the evolution of the use of the site
throughout this period.
As the site is essentially undisturbed by modern development the monument will
retain archaeological evidence of structures showing the evolution of the
buildings on the site throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, , Archaeological Sites in North East Northamptonshire , (1975), 38-9

Source: Historic England

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