Ancient Monuments

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Motte castle 400m north east of Upper Gwarthlow Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Chirbury with Brompton, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.5518 / 52°33'6"N

Longitude: -3.1044 / 3°6'15"W

OS Eastings: 325215.092733

OS Northings: 295453.683033

OS Grid: SO252954

Mapcode National: GBR B2.D6CQ

Mapcode Global: VH75P.44P4

Entry Name: Motte castle 400m north east of Upper Gwarthlow Farm

Scheduled Date: 16 April 1951

Last Amended: 15 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013500

English Heritage Legacy ID: 19213

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Chirbury with Brompton

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire


The monument includes the remains of Gwarthlow castle motte castle which is
believed to have been the centre of the manor of Rhiston. The castle is
situated on the summit of a low ridge commanding excellent views of the
surrounding landscape. It includes a well defined earthen castle mound, or
motte, circular in plan with a base diameter of 28m and standing up to 6.3m
high. The motte has been constructed by cutting a scarp around the ridge
summit to form a foundation mound and then piling further material on top to
give the desired height. The summit of the motte is roughly oval in plan with
dimensions of 12m east to west by 10m north to south, its surface sloping from
east to west. Surrounding the motte is a ditch from which material would have
been quarried for the upper part of the motte. It remains visible around the
eastern quarter as a shallow depression 0.2m deep and 4m wide and will survive
around the remaining sides as a buried feature of similar proportions. There
is no visible evidence for a bailey associated with the motte.

The fence surrounding the motte and ditch is excluded from the scheduling
although the ground beneath is included.

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.

Gwarthlow castle motte survives well and is a fine example of its class. It
will retain archaeological information relating both to its construction and
to its occupation. Environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which
the monument was constructed will be preserved within the mound and the ditch
fill. Such castles provide valuable information concerning the settlement
pattern and social organisation of the countryside during the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
King, D J C, Spurgeon, J, 'Arch Camb' in The Mottes In The Vale Of Montgomery, , Vol. CXIV, (1965), 79-80
SAM description, Snowdon, C A,

Source: Historic England

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