Ancient Monuments

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Motte and bailey castle south of Lilbourne Gorse

A Scheduled Monument in Lilbourne, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.3897 / 52°23'22"N

Longitude: -1.1884 / 1°11'18"W

OS Eastings: 455329.875961

OS Northings: 277161.256563

OS Grid: SP553771

Mapcode National: GBR 8QH.0CV

Mapcode Global: VHCTS.C63D

Entry Name: Motte and bailey castle south of Lilbourne Gorse

Scheduled Date: 16 May 1946

Last Amended: 2 January 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013349

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13657

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Lilbourne

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Lilbourne All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


This monument consists of a motte and bailey castle which lies just south west
of Lilbourne Gorse, and approximately 0.9km to the north west of the village
of Lilbourne.
The motte and bailey survives as earthworks which cover an area measuring
approximately 85m x 62m. The motte lies on the south of the site and is a
flat topped round mound about 10m high. The mound is surrounded by a
substantial ditch between 1.5m and 2.5m deep and in places up to 10m wide. On
the north side of the motte lie the remains of a peripheral oval bailey. The
edge of the bailey is defined by a slight rise in the land up to 0.5m high,
and the ditch around the bailey is indicated by soil marks. The motte and
bailey stands in an isolated position on high ground, looking towards Watling
Street to the west.
This castle lies 800m to the south west of a second motte and bailey which is
located just to the north of Lilbourne village.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 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 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 monument at Lilbourne Gorse is one of two closely associated motte and
bailey castles which lie within 800m of each other. Both the motte and the
bailey are essentially undisturbed and survive in good condition. The site
has considerable potential for the survival of archaeological information on
the period of construction and use of the castle and concerning its
relationship to the second castle nearby.

Source: Historic England

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