Ancient Monuments

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Castle Hill motte

A Scheduled Monument in Audley Rural, Staffordshire

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Latitude: 53.0562 / 53°3'22"N

Longitude: -2.3008 / 2°18'2"W

OS Eastings: 379936.743347

OS Northings: 351034.783929

OS Grid: SJ799510

Mapcode National: GBR 028.F4F

Mapcode Global: WH9BF.MFLX

Entry Name: Castle Hill motte

Scheduled Date: 14 January 1974

Last Amended: 21 January 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011071

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21538

County: Staffordshire

Civil Parish: Audley Rural

Built-Up Area: Audley

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Audley St James the Great

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


Castle Hill motte is situated on a natural plateau on the eastern outskirts of
the village of Audley. The plateau was adapted during the 12th century and the
ground surface built up slightly in order to construct a motte castle on its
summit. The monument includes the mound of Castle Hill motte and the ditch at
its eastern and northern edges.
The sloping sides of the plateau form the defences of the motte on its western
and southern edges and the eastern and northern defences have been
strengthened by the construction of a ditch. The ditch has been mostly
infilled and measures up to 10m wide with an average depth of 0.5m. The line
of the ditch has been partly obscured and damaged by ploughing at the northern
edge of the monument.
The flat-topped mound has a diameter of approximately 12m across its summit.
It measures approximately 2.5m high on its northern side and up to 9m high on
its southern side. An excavation across the top of the motte in 1911 exposed a
5m length of masonry walling and a narrow stone-lined channel. These features
were built on a north-south alignment. The stone foundations of an angle of
walling were located at the eastern edge of the motte which projected slightly
beyond the edge of the mound. A timber post, fragments of 15th, 17th and 18th
century pottery and a late 13th century silver coin were found during the
Castle Hill motte is considered to have been the original seat of the Audley
family prior to their move to Heighley Castle in the first quarter of the 13th
century. A partition of lands belonging to the Audley family in 1274-5 refers
to the castle in Audley. Documentary references to Castle Hill motte in 1272-3
and 1275 suggest that the site was not immediately abandoned after the
construction of Heighley.
The flight of concrete steps, which provide access onto the summit of the
mound, the garden furniture and the fence posts on the top of the motte and
the surface and stone steps of the footpath which follows the lower contours
of the southern edge of the mound are excluded from the scheduling, but the
ground beneath these features is included. Also excluded are the stone
retaining walls which cut into the southern slope of the mound, but the ground
beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Motte 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-bai1ey 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 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
and motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from
most regions. Some 100-150 examples do not have baileys and are classified as
motte castles. 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.

Castle Hill motte survives well and is a good example of this type of
monument. Small-scale excavation at the site has provided evidence that the
motte retains important information concerning the construction of the castle
and the activities of its inhabitants. The site is also of importance because
its short period of occupancy and its early abandonment in the 13th century
will have ensured that these early deposits have not been greatly disturbed by
later buildings on the site.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Scrivener, A, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Excavations At Castle Hill, Audley, (1914), 92-6
Scrivener, A, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Excavations At Castle Hill, Audley, (1914), 92-6

Source: Historic England

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