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Motte castle 178m WSW of Walford Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Walford, Letton and Newton, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.3464 / 52°20'47"N

Longitude: -2.8948 / 2°53'41"W

OS Eastings: 339142.478585

OS Northings: 272417.254625

OS Grid: SO391724

Mapcode National: GBR BB.TB0K

Mapcode Global: VH76R.S902

Entry Name: Motte castle 178m WSW of Walford Bridge

Scheduled Date: 28 November 1934

Last Amended: 18 March 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014101

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27488

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Walford, Letton and Newton

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Wigmore Abbey

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle,
situated on level ground in the Teme valley, south of the river and 178m
WSW of Walford Bridge. Two north east flowing drains border the monument to
the north and south. The remains include a steep sided earthen mound of
circular form, 30m diameter at the base and rising 3m to a flat top 13m
across. From the top of the motte it can be seen to have six roughly equal
sides, a feature which is not apparent from the base. On the south west side
of the mound an early investigation of the site has created a substantial
hollow, exposing masonry; the remains of a wall or stairway. Evidence for a
prehistoric burial is thought to have been found during this investigation,
which probably took place at the end of the last century. A shallow
depression, 0.75m wide and extending c.2m in from the northern edge of the top
of the mound, may also be a legacy of this event. A causeway across the
surrounding ditch at this point may represent the original means of access to
the motte. Spoil from the adjacent hollow has spread across this feature,
partly obscuring its dimensions. The ditch is up to 7.5m wide, and is now
mostly infilled, partly as a result of drainage works in 1930 when a pipe was
laid to the south of the motte. However, it is still visible as a boggy area
and is defined by an external bank which is up to 0.5m high and 6m wide. This
bank is most easily visible to the north and north east, but is indistinct to
the south. In the east quarter it extends north eastwards for c.20m, parallel
with the ditch which runs towards Walford Bridge. A second extension, less
well defined, extension runs several metres out from the northern quarter of
the bank. To the south west the bank is visible as a slight rise supporting
coarser grass than elsewhere, which extends for c.26m. This rise is separated
from the rest of the bank by an inlet channel, which is 8m wide at this point
and is visible as a spread of short, dark green grass for some distance
beyond. The monument is associated with a similar motte castle at Buckton,
just over 1km to the north west across the Teme. The Buckton motte is the
subject of a separate scheduling, as are the remains of a Roman camp which
extends to within 100m of the scheduled area at Walford.

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 modern drainage works around the motte castle at Walford it remains a
well-preserved example of this class of monument. The motte mound will contain
evidence for its method of construction, which may include post holes and
foundations for its wooden or stone tower. Evidence for structures such as
bridges will be preserved by material which has accumulated in the ditch.
Because these deposits are waterlogged it is likely that environmental
evidence, including organic remains, will survive, containing information
relating to the date of the motte and the activities which took place on and
around it. The wider medieval landscape in which the motte was constructed
will be reflected in these deposits, as well as in the buried land surface
beneath the mound itself. There are indications that important prehistoric
remains survive beneath the motte structure, and details of burial mound
structure and associated deposits will increase our understanding of the
technology and burial practices of its builders. The ground surface sealed
beneath this mound will preserve environmental evidence for the prehistoric
landscape in which it was constructed.

In its strategic position overlooking a crossroads, and its location near its
neighbour at Buckton, the motte at Walford forms part of the wider picture of
Herefordshire's medieval defences, and as such is an important element of the
political and social organisation of the county at the time. The motte's
location near Walford Court illustrates continuity of lordly occupation in the
vicinity into the post-medieval period.

Source: Historic England

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