Ancient Monuments

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Beacon Hill motte castle

A Scheduled Monument in Wollaston, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.257 / 52°15'25"N

Longitude: -0.6705 / 0°40'13"W

OS Eastings: 490843.044434

OS Northings: 262928.847056

OS Grid: SP908629

Mapcode National: GBR DZ0.K97

Mapcode Global: VHFPK.BJDM

Entry Name: Beacon Hill motte castle

Scheduled Date: 26 November 1969

Last Amended: 8 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013142

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13647

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Wollaston

Built-Up Area: Wollaston

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Wollaston with Strixton

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


Beacon Hill motte castle lies in the centre of the village of Wollaston, just
to the south of the church. The conical mound of the motte is over 6m high,
with a base diameter of approximately 60m and a flat summit about 24m across.
The motte ditch is still apparent on the south side and, during small scale
excavations in 1961-2, the ditch was found to be up to 3.5m deep. Pottery of
the 12th century was also discovered, together with the remains of a 12th
century stone building which stood on the summit. This building is considered
to be the remains of an early stone castle, which was destroyed soon after it
was built, and traces of an even earlier structure were found beneath it. It
is also known that a post mill was sited on the motte in the 13th to 15th
centuries. There is no record of a bailey being attached to the castle but
this may have been destroyed by later building on the site.
Made up paths and buildings on the site are excluded from the scheduling but
the ground beneath 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.

Beacon Hill is a well preserved example of a motte castle lying at the heart
of an existing village. Although partially excavated, the site demonstrates
high potential for the survival of structural evidence of the 12th century
castle and its immediate precursor. The substantial ditch to the south is in
excellent condition and will retain contemporaneous environmental evidence.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Medieval Archaeology' in Excavation Report on Beacon Hill?, , Vol. 14, (1970)

Source: Historic England

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