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Motte 50m south east of St Martin's Church: part of a motte and bailey castle

A Scheduled Monument in Little Ness, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.773 / 52°46'22"N

Longitude: -2.8791 / 2°52'44"W

OS Eastings: 340789.016433

OS Northings: 319849.888855

OS Grid: SJ407198

Mapcode National: GBR 7B.Y95C

Mapcode Global: WH8BC.RK6J

Entry Name: Motte 50m south east of St Martin's Church: part of a motte and bailey castle

Scheduled Date: 19 June 1972

Last Amended: 20 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013556

English Heritage Legacy ID: 19229

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Little Ness

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Little Ness St Martin

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes the motte of a small motte and bailey castle situated on
the summit of a small hill overlooking, to the east, the valley of the River
Perry. The castle originally consisted of the motte to the south east with an
oval bailey enclosure to the north west, which is now completely occupied by
St Martin's Church and churchyard. The castle mound, or motte was originally
circular in plan with a base diameter of 30m. The mound has been cut across
by quarrying around its southern side, flattening the base, so that the motte
now has a D-shaped plan. The summit of the motte stands up to 4.6m above the
surrounding ground level and has a diameter of approximately 4m. Although no
longer visible as a surface earthwork, a ditch, from which the material would
have been quarried for the construction of the motte, will survive as a buried
feature surrounding the motte.
St Martin's Church to the north west of the motte now stands in an oval
churchyard enclosure which adjoins the motte at its south east end. The
churchyard lies along the line of the hill and has maximum dimensions of 64m
north west to south east by 40m transversely. Although there are now no
traces of any surface earthworks, the churchyard wall is believed to follow
the line of the castle bailey boundary. Although the archaeological
stratigraphy in this area is of considerable significance to the monument, the
generations of grave cuts in the interior of the churchyard will have greatly
disturbed it. The church and churchyard remain in use and are not included in
the scheduling.

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 belonging to the motte and bailey castle south east of St Martin's
Church is a good example of its class. It will retain archaeological
information relating to its construction, age and the character of its use.
Environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which it was constructed
will be preserved on the old land surface sealed beneath the motte and in the
fill of the buried ditch. Although not included within the scheduling, the
area of the churchyard to the north occupies the site of the bailey and
illustrates the close relationship between castles and parish churches in this
region in the 11th and 12th centuries. Such monuments, when considered either
as single sites or as a part of a larger medieval landscape, contribute
valuable information concerning the settlement pattern, economy and social
structure of the countryside during the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of : Volume I, (1908), 396-7

Source: Historic England

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