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Motte castle 140m south east of Wilcot Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Great Ness, Shropshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.7608 / 52°45'38"N

Longitude: -2.9207 / 2°55'14"W

OS Eastings: 337963.451808

OS Northings: 318525.708825

OS Grid: SJ379185

Mapcode National: GBR 78.Z51V

Mapcode Global: WH8BC.3VFX

Entry Name: Motte castle 140m south east of Wilcot Hall

Scheduled Date: 9 March 1953

Last Amended: 8 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013498

English Heritage Legacy ID: 19217

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Great Ness

Built-Up Area: Wilcott

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Great Ness St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

Details

The monument includes the remains of a motte castle situated on the northern
end of a low spur east of the village of Wilcott and overlooking the valley of
a small stream to the north west. It includes a well defined castle mound, or
motte, which is circular in plan and has a base diameter of 42m. The motte is
positioned on the tip of the spur using the natural defensive strength of its
position to maximum effect. Around the north side of the site the slope of the
motte and the natural slope of the spur merge so that the motte summit stands
9.2m above the wet ground to the north, and there is no outer ditch. Around
the south side, where the natural slope of the spur top rises slightly away
from the motte, the motte stands approximately 3.9m high and is separated from
the spur by a curving ditch 4m wide and 0.2m deep cut across the line of the
spur. The summit of the motte has a maximum diameter of 26m and is hollowed
at centre to a depth of 2.4m forming a depression 21m in diameter. This is
believed to represent the foundations of a circular tower which originally
occupied the motte summit. At the centre of the depression a circular hollow
4m in diameter and 2m deep represents an early investigation of the site. The
south western quarter of the bank formed around the edge of the central
depression has also been cut at some time in the past, creating an entrance
gap 4m wide into the motte interior. No bailey associated with the motte has
yet been traced.

MAP EXTRACT
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 castle south east of Wilcot Hall survives well and is a good example
of its class. It will retain archaeological information relating to its
construction and the character of occupation here. The mound also preserves
the foundation remains of a major tower keep of unknown date. Environmental
evidence relating to the landscape in which it was built will be preserved
sealed beneath the mound and in the lower sediments of the ditch fill. Such
motte castles, when considered as a single site or as part of a broader
medieval landscape, contribute valuable information concerning the settlement
pattern, economy and social stucture of the countryside during the medieval
period.

Source: Historic England

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