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Brackley motte and bailey castle

A Scheduled Monument in Brackley, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.0235 / 52°1'24"N

Longitude: -1.1533 / 1°9'11"W

OS Eastings: 458191.53495

OS Northings: 236453.029355

OS Grid: SP581364

Mapcode National: GBR 8VZ.375

Mapcode Global: VHCWJ.YDNN

Entry Name: Brackley motte and bailey castle

Scheduled Date: 22 October 1970

Last Amended: 19 February 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010660

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13636

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Brackley

Built-Up Area: Brackley

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Brackley

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


The motte and bailey castle lies on the south west of the town of Brackley.
The monument includes the remains of a motte mound 3m high and approximately
40m in diameter with an outer bailey on its eastern side. The perimeter of
the bailey is no longer visible but archaeological excavations have identified
a ditch 7m wide at the eastern edge of the bailey near the existing boundary
of the garden allotments. The ditch is considered to follow the line of
Hinton Road to the north and the existing stream to the south. Two fishponds,
identified as the Upper and Lower Fishponds, originally lay outside the
bailey, but have subsequently been infilled.
Brackley Castle was constructed soon after 1086, and may have gone out of use
in 1174 when the estates of the Earl of Leicester were seized by the Crown.
By 1230-40 it had lost its military standing as the site was granted to the
Hospital of St John. The farm buildings on the site and made up roadways are
excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath 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.

Historical records show that Brackley became the second most important town in
the county in the medieval period, and the motte and bailey castle would have
played a very important role in the administration of the locality. The motte
is the site of the early Norman castle, and has potential for providing vital
evidence on the standing of the town from the beginning of the pre-Conquest

Source: Historic England


Foard, G, Brackley Castle. The evidence from Doc Sources & Trial Trenching, 1980, Draft Report supplied by SMR

Source: Historic England

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