Ancient Monuments

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Motte castle 150m north east of Butthouse

A Scheduled Monument in Canon Pyon, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.136 / 52°8'9"N

Longitude: -2.816 / 2°48'57"W

OS Eastings: 344248.188352

OS Northings: 248946.211225

OS Grid: SO442489

Mapcode National: GBR FG.7D4C

Mapcode Global: VH77S.4KNX

Entry Name: Motte castle 150m north east of Butthouse

Scheduled Date: 24 August 1935

Last Amended: 2 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013642

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27481

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Canon Pyon

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: King's Pyon

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a small motte
castle, situated on a south east facing slope above a tributary of Wellington
Brook, which runs eastwards into the River Lugg and near the 17th century
mansion known as Butthouse. The remains include an earthen motte mound,
roughly circular, c.28m in diameter at the base and c.17m diameter at the top.
The motte is steep-sided and has a flat top, which is c.2.4m high in the west
and c.1.7m high in the east. Ploughing in a rough square around the mound has
produced an angular boundary at its base, most marked on the south east where
the sides are rather less steep. Although a ditch is no longer visible,
material for the mound's construction will have been quarried from a
surrounding ditch, which is now completely infilled.
The motte is planted with mature and sapling oak trees, all of which have
died. Four saplings stand in protective wooden tree guards; these guards are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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.

Despite the trees on its mound, the motte castle at Butthouse is a well
preserved example of this class of monument. The earthwork remains will
preserve details of the motte construction, including post holes and/or stone
foundations which will elucidate the construction and form of its wooden or
stone tower. Evidence for the construction of a bridge across the ditch will
be preserved by the deposits which have accumulated in the ditch itself. These
fills will contain environmental evidence relating to the medieval landscape
in which the motte was constructed, and for subsequent activity at and around
it. Similarly, the buried land surface beneath the mound preserves evidence
for the ecology and land use immediately prior to construction of the motte.
When considered alongside others in the county, the monument contributes to
our understanding of the political and social organisation of medieval
Herefordshire. In addition, the motte's location near the 17th century mansion
known as Butthouse illustrates the continuity of lordly occupation in the
vicinity through to the post-medieval period.

Source: Historic England

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