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Hartshill Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Hartshill, Warwickshire

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Latitude: 52.5458 / 52°32'44"N

Longitude: -1.5215 / 1°31'17"W

OS Eastings: 432542.876059

OS Northings: 294319.432114

OS Grid: SP325943

Mapcode National: GBR 6KG.65F

Mapcode Global: VHBWC.K8ZR

Entry Name: Hartshill Castle

Scheduled Date: 17 February 1927

Last Amended: 7 March 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011197

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21544

County: Warwickshire

Civil Parish: Hartshill

Built-Up Area: Nuneaton

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Warwickshire

Church of England Parish: Hartshill Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Coventry


The monument is situated within the village of Hartshill between the Green and
the parish church of the Holy Trinity and west of Castle Road. It includes the
standing and buried remains of Hartshill Castle, the site of a post-medieval
house constructed within an earlier enclosure castle and parts of an
associated water management system.
Hartshill Castle is situated in a commanding position on a ridge running
north west-south east. There are stream channels to the west and east of the
castle site. It is primarily a motte and bailey castle which was altered prior
to the mid 14th century to form an enclosure castle, the standing remains of
which are also listed Grade II.
The natural slope of the ridge has been accentuated to strengthen the castle
defences on the north, west and east sides. The motte is located at the
northern end of the castle site and is mostly artificial. It has a diameter of
approximately 50m across its base and is surrounded by a ditch 8m wide. The
ditch has been infilled but remains visible as a shallow depression around the
circumference of the motte. A slight outer bank is visible at the western and
northern edges of the motte. The southern ditch is now in use as a public
footpath and its original depth is uncertain. The outer edge of the eastern
side of the ditch has been obscured by the dumping of waste material in the
20th century. The ditch will, however, survive as a buried feature. The motte
is flat-topped and there is a slight depression at its centre. The original
layout of the bailey is no longer evident on the ground surface but its outer
bank probably followed the top of the natural ridge. The motte and bailey
castle was constructed during the reign of Henry I(1100-35) by Hugh de
Prior to the mid-14th century the castle was refortified and a curtain wall,
built of coursed, squared, Hartshill granite blocks with sandstone dressings,
was added to the bailey. The enclosure castle is thought to have been
constructed by John de Handreshull in c.1330. The motte was not included
within the defences of the new enclosure castle and was presumably abandoned
at this time. The curtain wall encloses an area of approximately 0.35ha
and is a five-sided polygon in plan. The wall survives to a maximum height of
approximately 3m and is best preserved on the northern, eastern and
north western sides. There are cross-shaped loopholes at intervals within the
fabric of the curtain wall. The southern wall is thought to have contained the
gateway into the castle. The ground surface within the enclosure contains
surface irregularities indicating the presence of buried features. A linear
earthwork within the north western part of the castle defines the eastern edge
of a raised rectangular platform. The living quarters of the castle are known
to have included a hall, an accompanying kitchen and other rooms. At the north
end of the castle are the standing remains of a chapel which is approximately
contemporary with the refortification of the enclosure. The chapel has been
constructed against the north curtain wall and is built of local quartzite
with window dressings of sandstone. The east wall of the building is the best
preserved and it contains a small window opening. A portion of the southern
wall remains standing and includes a piscina. The remains of the chapel which
are part of the castle fabric are therefore listed Grade II and are included
in the scheduling.
Within the north eastern corner of the enclosure castle are the ruins of a
timber and brick building, the ruins of a post-medieval house constructed
within the castle. The standing remains include a large brick chimney with two
chamfered stone fireplaces and are listed Grade II. The house includes part of
the curtain walls within its fabric and is all that is now visible of a four
gabled, part timber-framed house, built in the 1560s. In c.1550 Hartshill
Castle was sold to Sir Anthony Cook who leased the site to Michael and Edmund
Parker in 1567. The standing and buried remains of the post-medieval house are
included in the scheduling.
To the north east of the enclosure castle are the earthwork remains of a
retaining bank or dam. The bank is approximately 8m wide and has been
constructed across the stream channel. It has been altered slightly and it is
now used as a public footpath. The construction of the bank dammed the stream
to form a pond area upstream to the south east. The pond is considered to have
been associated with the defences of Hartshill Castle. The stream channel now
flows beneath the retaining bank and the pond is only seasonally waterlogged.
There is a causeway across the central part of the pond which divides the pond
into two sections. The causeway is thought to have been associated with the
occupation of the post-medieval house, built within the castle. The pond to
the north of the causeway, its dam and the causeway itself, are included in
the scheduling.
The brick and timber stable building situated within the enclosure castle, the
brick pathways and all fence posts are excluded from the scheduling but the
ground beneath 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 survives well and is largely unencumbered by modern development.
Surface irregularities within the enclosure castle indicate the position of
buried features and these will retain evidence for the changing pattern of
occupation of the site during the medieval and post-medieval periods. The
conversion of the site from a motte and bailey to an enclosure castle in the
14th century is of particular interest. Additionally, organic material will be
preserved within the seasonally waterlogged pond area to the east and this
will be of value in understanding the economy of the castle's inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire: Hartshill, (1947), 131
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Warwickshire, (1974), 307
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Hartshill Castle, , Vol. 53, (1928), 206
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Hartshill Castle, , Vol. 53, (1928), 206-10
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in Hartshill Castle, , Vol. 53, (1928), 206-10
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeologiacl Society' in Castles in Warwickshire, (1947), 8
Chatwin, P B, 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeologiacl Society' in Castles in Warwickshire, (1947), 8-9
Ordnance Survey, Hartshill Castle, SP 39 SW 6, (1967)

Source: Historic England

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