Ancient Monuments

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Whittington motte and bailey castle

A Scheduled Monument in Whittington, Lancashire

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Latitude: 54.1806 / 54°10'50"N

Longitude: -2.6151 / 2°36'54"W

OS Eastings: 359948.361645

OS Northings: 476270.786101

OS Grid: SD599762

Mapcode National: GBR BN53.M3

Mapcode Global: WH94V.S5WW

Entry Name: Whittington motte and bailey castle

Scheduled Date: 17 May 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010796

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13464

County: Lancashire

Civil Parish: Whittington

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Whittington St Michael the Archangel

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn


The monument comprises a motte and bailey castle situated on a natural
hillock on the lower slopes of a steep hillside overlooking the floodplain
of the River Lune. It commands extensive views both down and across the
valley to the S and E.
The site consists of a low, oval-shaped motte c.52m dia at the base x c.3.6m
high standing some 11m above the low meadows to the SE. To the E and SE of
the motte is a crescent-shaped bailey that slopes gently downwards from W-E
and stands a max. 6m above the meadows.
The site is now occupied by Whittington Church and churchyard. The church
itself has been constructed within the bailey while a sundial is located
upon the summit of the motte. There are burials both on the motte and
within the bailey, particularly to the N of the church.
Whittington Church and the sundial in the churchyard are both Grade II
Whittington Church; all graves; a sundial on the motte summit; all gravel
and flagged paths, steps and handrails; and the boundary wall and railings
are excluded from the scheduling. The ground beneath all these features,
however, 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 motte and bailey castle at Whittington is of particular importance for
being one of a group of such monuments established along the Lune valley.
These sites were all of strategic importance, allowing control of movement
along the river valley. More importantly, however, was the role these
monuments played in imposing and demonstrating the new post-Conquest order
on the area. Construction of the church within the bailey, coupled with the
digging of numerous graves on the site has somewhat mutilated the
earthworks. However, the site is still distinctly recognisable as a motte
and bailey and retains considerable information as to its original form.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Farrer, J, Brownbill, W (eds), The Victoria History of the County of Lancashire: Volume II, (1908), 545-6
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,
Leach, P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Motte & Bailey Castles, (1988)
SMR No. 601, Lancashire SMR, Whittington Motte, (1984)

Source: Historic England

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