Ancient Monuments

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Castle Hill motte

A Scheduled Monument in Penwortham, Lancashire

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Latitude: 53.7558 / 53°45'20"N

Longitude: -2.7226 / 2°43'21"W

OS Eastings: 352453.360766

OS Northings: 429071.083519

OS Grid: SD524290

Mapcode National: GBR T6C.Z7

Mapcode Global: WH85M.4VSL

Entry Name: Castle Hill motte

Scheduled Date: 26 November 1969

Last Amended: 29 October 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011868

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13446

County: Lancashire

Civil Parish: Penwortham

Built-Up Area: Bamber Bridge

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Penwortham St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn


The monument at Penwortham consists of a medieval motte castle strategically
situated on a natural mound overlooking an ancient ford across the River
Ribble. The motte lies in St Mary's churchyard NE of the church and includes
a tree and scrub covered conical earthen mound having diameters of c.36.5m
at the base and 7.6m across the summit. This part of the graveyard is now
disused. Traces of a shallow ditch - now packed with graves - c.2.5m wide x
0.5m deep separating the motte from a bailey on the SW side survive, but the
bailey is now indistinct and its site has been considerably disturbed by
construction of the church and burials in the churchyard. This bailey area is
not, therefore, included in the scheduling. 19th century excavations found
three phases of occupation at Castle Hill with the earliest remains considered
to be of early medieval origin. Penwortham Castle was named in the Domesday
Survey as existing in 1086 but appears to have been allowed to fall into ruins
after 1232.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 3 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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.

Limited excavation at Castle Hill motte has revealed a lengthy period of
occupation during which three construction phases were noted from the early
medieval period until the mid 13th Century. The Norman motte was of strategic
importance allowing control of movement along the Ribble valley and across an
important ancient ford.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Farrer, W, Brownbill, J, The Victoria History of the County of Lancashire, (1914)
Fishwick, H, 'Hist. Soc. Lancs. and Ches' in Transactions Historical Society Lancashire and Cheshire, , Vol. 17, ()
Info with exhibits, Harris Museum, BRS,
Lancs. SMR. PRN 284 Penwortham Castle,
Leach, P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Motte & Bailey Castles, (1988)

Source: Historic England

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