Ancient Monuments

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Alton Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Alton, Staffordshire

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Latitude: 52.9793 / 52°58'45"N

Longitude: -1.893 / 1°53'34"W

OS Eastings: 407282.72886

OS Northings: 342445.549033

OS Grid: SK072424

Mapcode National: GBR 37R.86P

Mapcode Global: WHBD4.WCRV

Entry Name: Alton Castle

Scheduled Date: 12 November 1962

Last Amended: 7 October 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013227

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12002

County: Staffordshire

Civil Parish: Alton

Built-Up Area: Alton

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Alton St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes part of the outer wall, a wall tower, two gatehouses and
a small oval bailey, all defended to the south and east by a massive dry ditch
cut out of the rock. It is believed to have been in existence by 1175 and
occupied a strong position at the top of a cliff overlooking the Churnet
valley. The castle was dismantled in the Civil War.
The outer wall can be traced for most of its length on the south side of the
bailey where it forms a revetment to the north face of the moat. At the east
end of the wall are the remains of a 12th century gatehouse, while 25m to the
west of that are the foundations of a circular wall tower. Two fragments of
the tower survive where it joined the outer wall. At the west end of the
bailey are the remains of an early 14th century gatehouse which probably
superseded the earlier example. A fragment of the outer wall, up to 6m in
height, survives to the north side and is incorporated in the fabric of the
19th century buildings. Medieval structures and associated deposits are likely
to remain buried within the bailey and evidence for bridges relating to both
the 12th and early 14th century gatehouses is believed to survive.
The 19th century building on the north side of the castle is excluded from the
scheduling, apart from the incorporated fragment of the outer wall, and apart
from the ground beneath the standing building, which are included. All
buildings on the south side of the area are excluded from the scheduling, but
the ground beneath them is included. The swimming pool is also excluded from
the scheduling.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 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 were mounds of soil and/or stone, usually surrounded by either
a wet or dry ditch and surmounted by a tower constructed of timber or stone.
Such castles were military strongholds of medieval date, built as a base for
offensive operations. They are found both in urban areas and rural settings.
Alton is particularly important, surviving as a dominant and outstanding
feature of the medieval landscape in the West Midlands. This significance is
further enhanced by the surviving architectural features. In particular, the
outer wall, with its successive gates and rock-cut ditch, constitutes an
instructive monument of military architecture. The original 12th century
stone gate and its 14th century successor represent a rare combination
which, in its own right is worthy of preservation. The site is also of
considerable historic importance. It has a direct association with the patron
of Croxden Abbey. This represented the seat of a Cistercian foundation while
Alton Castle represents that of its founder.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Nicholl, R, History of North Staffordshire, (1933), 4
Cantor, L M, 'North Staffordshire Journal of Field Studies' in The Medieval Castles of Staffordshire, , Vol. 6, (1966), 42-3

Source: Historic England

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