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Motte and bailey castle 100m west of Holy Trinity Church

A Scheduled Monument in Lydham, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.5132 / 52°30'47"N

Longitude: -2.9822 / 2°58'55"W

OS Eastings: 333442.566857

OS Northings: 291040.626064

OS Grid: SO334910

Mapcode National: GBR B7.GLH9

Mapcode Global: VH75Y.8397

Entry Name: Motte and bailey castle 100m west of Holy Trinity Church

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1954

Last Amended: 21 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013486

English Heritage Legacy ID: 19221

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Lydham

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Lydham

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the remains of a motte and bailey castle situated at the
confluence of the River Onny and the River Camlad. The strategic siting of
the castle is designed to control the natural valley routeways east to west
and north to south, which converge at this point. The castle includes a
substantial castle mound, or motte, set within the western part of a sub-
rectangular bailey. The motte is oval in plan with base dimensions of 36m east
to west by 25m north to south, the sides of the motte rising steeply to its
summit 5m above the interior of the bailey. A semicircular depression has been
cut into the south east quarter of the motte base. The summit of the motte is
flat and roughly rectangular in plan, measuring 12m east to west by 8m
transversely. On its west side the motte falls directly some 7.6m to the base
of the bailey ditch, giving great defensive strength to this quarter of the

The bailey, designed to protect the domestic buildings associated with the
castle, encloses land on the north, east and south east sides of the motte. It
has an internal area up to 62m north to south by 68m east to west and is
defended by a substantial outer scarp averaging 2.4m high around all sides.
Around the south, west and north sides of the bailey a well defined outer
ditch averaging 7m wide and 2.4m deep runs parallel to the scarp. The northern
portion of the ditch remains water-filled while along the western side a
modern field drain has been cut roughly along its centre. Around the east side
the ditch is no longer visible as an earthwork but it will survive as a buried
feature of similar proportions. A water-course, probably a by-pass leat
associated with the mill to the east of the castle, drains into the bailey
ditch at its north east corner. Around the south west and west the ditch is
flanked along its outer edge by an outer bank averaging 4m wide and 1.6m high.
The bank is interrupted at its western extremity by an entrance gap 3m wide.
On either side of this gap the bank turns outwards to flank what would have
been an original approach to the castle. Although there is no surface evidence
of a structure at this position it is likely that a bridge linked the
entrance directly to the motte. A second entrance to the castle interior lies
at the south east corner of the bailey. Here the outer scarp of the bailey is
less deep and a short length of causeway curves south west to north east
across the line of the ditch. Immediately within the bailey, flanking the
north side of the entrance, a length of scarp approximately 25m long and 0.3m
high curves from the entrance towards the motte. This may represent the line
of a palisade designed to overlook and guard this approach.

The interior of the bailey is divided into two distinct level areas; the
eastern, lower area, approached directly from the south east entrance measures
approximately 70m north west to south east by 30m transversely. Slight surface
undulations in the north east quarter of this area are believed to represent
small building platforms. The second smaller level area lies immediately north
of the motte and is separated from the larger area by a distinct scarp up to
1m high. The scarp curves from the north east corner of the motte towards the
north, joining with the outer scarp of the bailey to create a level platform
approximately 30m east to west by 20m north to south. There are no earthworks
visible on this level platform but it may have been constructed as
the base for a large timber building, possibly the castle hall. The
foundations of any such structure here will survive as buried archaeological

All fences, drains and modern structures within the area of the scheduling are
excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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.

The motte and bailey castle 100m west of Lydham church survives well and is a
fine example of its class. Both the motte and bailey appear to be largely
undisturbed. The motte is an impressive structure up to 8m high and will
retain archaeological evidence relating to its structure, character of
occupation and the nature of the building which once occupied its summit. The
bailey shows evidence that it was subdivided into distinctive areas and it
will retain important archaeological evidence concerning the nature of the
buildings which were contained within, and for the processes and activities
which were carried out within and around them. Environmental evidence relating
to the economy of the castle and the landscape in which it was built will
survive sealed beneath the motte and in the undisturbed areas of the bailey
ditch sediments. Such motte and bailey castles contribute valuable information
concerning the settlement pattern, economy and social structure of the
countryside during the medieval period. In this respect the close physical
relationship between the castle, church and mill is considered of interest,
although the church and mill are not included in the scheduling.

Source: Historic England

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