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Sauvey Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Launde, Leicestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.6395 / 52°38'22"N

Longitude: -0.8383 / 0°50'17"W

OS Eastings: 478707.907557

OS Northings: 305276.596476

OS Grid: SK787052

Mapcode National: GBR BQH.JVZ

Mapcode Global: WHFKM.3X2B

Entry Name: Sauvey Castle

Scheduled Date: 23 April 1934

Last Amended: 10 June 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010303

English Heritage Legacy ID: 17033

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Launde

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Owston and Withcote (Whatborough Parishes)

Church of England Diocese: Leicester

Details

Sauvey Castle is situated 4km east of the village of Tilton. It occupies a
low, natural promontory flanked on either side by rivers with a ditch at the
western end making it a very effective defensive stronghold.
The castle, standing an average of 7m above the bottom of the valley, consists
of two enclosures: a rectangular bailey measuring 100m x 70m on the western
side and a smaller oval enclosure measuring 60 x 40m to the east. The two are
divided by a hollow sloping northwards to form the main entrance. The surface
of the bailey is flat with a slight inner bank on the west and south sides. A
low mound with depressions on the north east side of the bailey represents a
mound on which a guardhouse would have been situated. To the east, the
smaller enclosure is slightly higher than the larger enclosure and contained
the principal buildings on its south side and a rectangular chapel situated
near the centre. The original structure of the castle was of stone which can
be seen exposed in several places especially near the entrance. The
surrounding ditch varies from between 20m wide on the west side, opening out
to a 60m valley on the east. Situated to the south east is an earth bank, 6m
high, which dammed the valley, and has a central gap perhaps housing a sluice
gate.
Sauvey Castle was built during the anarchistic reign of Stephen (1135-54). In
1216, Henry III ordered the surrender of Sauvey to the Earl of Aumale who
retained it until a royal order to surrender Sauvey and Rockingham was given
in 1217. Aumale acted against the king's wishes and attempted to fortify
Sauvey and it was not until June 1220 that Sauvey and Rockingham were
surrendered. The castle's later history is connected with the adjacent royal
forest. In 1226, it was delivered by royal command to Hugh de Neville, the
king's forester. From 1246 the castle lost its prominence as a royal site and
by the 15th century it had been demoted to a subsidiary property of the manor
of Withcote.
A modern barn on the north side of the site is excluded from the scheduling
although the ground beneath it is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A shell keep castle is a masonry enclosure, extending around the top of an
earlier motte or castle ringwork, and replacing the existing timber palisades;
there are a few cases where the wall is built lower down the slope or even at
the bottom. The enclosure is usually rounded or sub-rounded but other shapes
are also known. A shell keep is relatively small, normally between 15 and 25m
diameter, with few buildings, and perhaps one tower only, within its interior.
Shell keeps were built over a period of about 150 years, from not long after
the Norman Conquest until the mid-13th century; most were built in the 12th
century. They provided strongly fortified residences for the king or leading
families and occur in both urban and rural situations.
Shell keep castles are widely dispersed throughout England with a marked
concentration in the Welsh Marches. The distribution also extends into Wales
and to a lesser extent into Scotland. They are rare nationally with only 71
recorded examples. Considerable diversity of form is exhibited with no two
examples being exactly alike. Along with other castle types, they are major
medieval monument types which, belonging to the highest levels of society,
frequently acted as major administrative centres and formed the foci for
developing settlement patterns. Castles generally provide an emotive and
evocative link to the past and can provide a valuable education resource, both
with respect to medieval warfare and defence, and to wider aspects of medieval
society. All examples retaining significant remains of medieval date are
considered to be nationally important.

Sauvey Castle has an unusual plan with few parallels nationally. It survives
in good condition and the interior will retain archaeological evidence of the
original castle layout and its subsequent use.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Cantor, L, 'Transactions of the Leicestershire Arch and Historical Society' in The Medieval Castles of Leicestershire (Volume 53), , Vol. 53, (1978)
Foss, P J, 'Sycamore Leaves' in Sauvey Castle, , Vol. 20, (1983)

Source: Historic England

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