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Dodleston motte and bailey castle

A Scheduled Monument in Dodleston, Cheshire West and Chester

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Latitude: 53.141 / 53°8'27"N

Longitude: -2.9562 / 2°57'22"W

OS Eastings: 336134.45344

OS Northings: 360858.443898

OS Grid: SJ361608

Mapcode National: GBR 77.62DS

Mapcode Global: WH88L.K9HV

Entry Name: Dodleston motte and bailey castle

Scheduled Date: 29 December 1952

Last Amended: 23 October 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012419

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13501

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Civil Parish: Dodleston

Built-Up Area: Dodleston

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Dodleston St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Chester


The monument is Dodleston motte and bailey castle. It is situated on the
Welsh side of the River Dee from where control could be kept of the marsh
lands between the river and the Welsh foothills. The motte is located in the
eastern half of the bailey with the north-eastern corner of the bailey having
been destroyed by the construction of a rectory and its gardens. The site
includes a flat-topped motte, slightly mutilated on its northern side, but
measuring c.13m diameter at the summit and 3.3m high. It is surrounded on all
sides except the north by a ditch, c.2.3m deep by 7m wide at the base, that is
dry apart from a small waterlogged area at the south-east. The bailey is
bounded by a bank and outer ditch, best preserved on the south-east where the
bank measures c.7m wide by 1.5m high. The outer ditch remains waterlogged in
its southern part and has an average width of c.6-7m and is 3m deep. It has
been partly infilled on its eastern side. A dry outlet channel some 2.5m wide
by 33m long issues from the south-eastern corner of the outer ditch.
In 1086 Dodleston manor was held by Osberne Fitz Tezzon, a Norman baron who
founded the Boydall family. It subsequently passed to the Redishes. A later
mansion, the property of the Manleys of Lache, was erected within the site.
This was the headquarters of Sir William Brereton during the seige of Chester
(1644-6) and has since been demolished.
A greenhouse and shed, all walls, fences and the remains of a Victorian
sewage system in the outer ditch 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 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.

The motte and bailey castle at Dodleston is one of a group of early
post-Conquest (c.1100) motte and bailey castles forming a defensive system,
the aim of which was to curb Welsh raids on the rich farming areas of
Cheshire. Its earthworks are well preserved and the monument will retain
considerable detail of its original form and the buildings which lay within
it. Organic material will also be preserved within the waterlogged areas of
the ditches.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ormerod, G, 'History of Cheshire' in History of Cheshire, , Vol. 3, (1882), 847
In Cheshire SMR No. 1978/2, Photographic Record of the Dodleston Survey,
Leach, P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Motte & Bailey Castles, (1988)
SMR No. 1978/2, Cheshire SMR, Dodleston Castle, (1989)
To Robinson, K D MPPFW, Mr. Shanklin (Site owner), (1991)

Source: Historic England

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