Ancient Monuments

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Cothill Tump, a motte castle 500m north west of Cothill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Turnastone, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.0212 / 52°1'16"N

Longitude: -2.9653 / 2°57'55"W

OS Eastings: 333857.057939

OS Northings: 236301.92951

OS Grid: SO338363

Mapcode National: GBR F7.GYXP

Mapcode Global: VH788.KG6D

Entry Name: Cothill Tump, a motte castle 500m north west of Cothill Farm

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014104

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27491

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Turnastone

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Turnastone

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle,
situated at the top of a south facing slope, above a tributary of the River
Dore. Although not on the summit of the ridge, the motte sits on a slight
natural rise and commands impressive views of the surrounding area. The
remains include a steep sided earthen mound of circular form, c.34m diameter
at the base, rising c.3.5m to a diameter of c.20m at the top. The sides of the
mound are planted with several mature trees, including oak, ash and hawthorne,
and its top is very uneven, probably due to early investigation. In the north
west quarter a ramp has been cut into the side of the mound, probably also the
result of an investigation of the mound, while a second, wider, ramp enters
the mound to the south. Spoil from this feature has spread to either side,
resulting in an irregular hollow c.1.7m wide at the top of the mound and
extending c.3.5m at its base. Given the motte's south facing aspect, the
position of this ramp is consistent with an original entry to the monument,
however the wide spread of spoil suggests that this area has also been the
subject of early investigation. The motte mound is surrounded by a ditch from
which material for its construction will have been obtained. The ditch is
visible all round the mound, except to the north where its extent has been
obscured by ploughing in the adjacent field. It is 2m-2.5m wide and up to 0.4m
deep, and the grass within it is both wetter and greener than surrounding
areas. The ditch is itself defined by a low external bank, up to 5.5m wide and
visible as a slight rise to the south and west of the motte. This feature has
been levelled by ploughing in adjacent fields to the north and east. An outlet
channel, 2.5m wide, interrupts the bank in the south west quarter; this would
have been part of the original water supply system of the motte castle. The
position of the monument is typical of Bronze Age bowl barrows locally, and in
its present form it may represent medieval adaptation of such an earlier
feature. The fences and hedges to the north and east of the monument and the
gate to the east are excluded from the scheduling, however 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 afforestation and early investigation of its mound, the motte castle
at Cothill is a well-preserved example of this class of monument. The
earthwork remains will preserve details of the motte construction, including
postholes and stone foundations which will preserve evidence of the
construction and form of its tower. Evidence for features such as bridges will
be preserved by the deposits which have accumulated in the ditch. These ditch
fills will also contain environmental evidence relating to the medieval
landscape in which the motte was constructed, and to subsequent activity at
and around it. Similarly, the buried land surface beneath the mound will
preserve evidence for the ecology and land use immediately prior to
construction of the motte. Earlier activity at the site may be represented by
a barrow mound and associated deposits, which will contribute to our
understanding of the technology and burial practices of its builders, and will
also retain environmental evidence for the prehistoric landscape. When
considered alongside others in the county, the motte contributes to our
understanding of the political and social organisation of medieval

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Rees, W, South Wales in the 14th Century, (1932)
Shoesmith, R, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club' in , , Vol. 1969, (1969), 475
Shoesmith, R, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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