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Motte castle and associated occupation and agricultural remains at Mynydd-Brith

A Scheduled Monument in Dorstone, Herefordshire,

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.0667 / 52°4'0"N

Longitude: -3.0505 / 3°3'1"W

OS Eastings: 328084.446156

OS Northings: 241444.293894

OS Grid: SO280414

Mapcode National: GBR F4.CV8R

Mapcode Global: VH781.2BP0

Entry Name: Motte castle and associated occupation and agricultural remains at Mynydd-Brith

Scheduled Date: 15 March 1972

Last Amended: 7 April 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014881

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27544

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Dorstone

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Dorstone

Church of England Diocese: Hereford

Details

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle,
situated on a steep north east facing slope above the Pont-y-Weston Brook,
some 3km west of Dorstone village. The castle is associated with the earthwork
and buried remains of a number of hollow ways, building platforms, and an area
of medieval cultivation remains, which are protected in a second area to the
east.
The castle remains include an earthen motte mound, oval in plan and measuring
roughly 31m east to west and 28m north to south at the base. It has steep
sides which rise 5m on the east side and 2.5m on the west, to a flat
summit up to 18m in diameter. A low stone wall runs part way round the rim of
the mound; although largely of modern construction this wall is believed to
directly overlie the remains of earlier structures. A path cut into the north
side of the motte probably represents an original access to the summit. The
outer edge of the path is revetted by a stone wall, the lower courses of which
survive above ground although its full extent is obscured by vegetation. The
remains of a surrounding ditch, from which material for the mound's
construction would have been quarried, survive as a shallow depression up to
8m wide to the south of the motte, becoming less well defined in the eastern
and western quarters. To the north west the ditch is replaced by a gently
sloping area which continues round to the north, and to the east it has been
truncated by the construction of Mynydd Brith House and gardens. The ditch has
a south westward extention in the form of a hollow which widens as it meets
the southern boundary of the site, just to the west of the current gated
access from the lane. This is probably the remains of a hollow way, which
provided access to the motte from the lane.
In the field on the opposite side of the lane, in the second area to the south
east of the motte, are the earthwork and buried remains of a number of hollow
ways, which have worn up to 1.5m into the high ground in the west corner of
the field. These narrow, curved lanes are not wide enough for wheeled
transport, but were created by pack animals negotiating the rather steep slope
in this area. However, a wider cart track descends the slope further south,
continuing east then north east around the base of the north facing slope. To
the west these tracks have been truncated by the construction of the adjacent
farm. One of the hollow ways runs north east, roughly at right angles to the
cart track, and leads to the buried remains of three buildings terraced into
the slope against its north west side. Upslope are the foundations of two
stone structures which measure roughly 6m north west-south east by 4m
transversely. Downslope of these is the platform of a larger timber building
9m by 9m. To the south east of the hollow way, and bounded on the south and
east by the cart track, is a small enclosure of linear earthworks, aligned
roughly east-west. These are the remains of small-scale ridged cultivation,
perhaps an orchard, which would have contributed to the economy of the
settlement associated with the castle. In the north west corner of this
`close' are the buried cill-beam foundations of a post-medieval building,
which appears on the 1974 Ordnance Survey map but has since been demolished.
The timber posts of a now vanished gate near the north end of the hollow way
suggest this track continued in use during the post-medieval development of
Mynyddbrydd Farm.
A settlement at Mynydd-Brith is mentioned in Domesday, and the castle was
probably built by William fitz Osbern or one of his followers, in the 11th
century. In its strategic position overlooking the Pont-y-Weston Brook and the
Dore Valley, it is one of a number of medieval defensive monuments in the
area.
The two telegraph poles, two wooden gate posts, and all modern garden
equipment in the field to the south east of the motte are excluded from the
scheduling, but the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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.

The motte castle at Mynydd-Brith is a well preserved example of this class of
monument, and the survival of the associated agricultural and settlement
earthworks increases interest in the site. The motte mound will retain details
of its method of construction, including post holes for revetments and
palisades, and for the tower which surmounted it. Evidence for structures
such as a bridge will be preserved in the ditch deposits, which will also
retain environmental evidence for the activities which took place at and
around the castle during its construction and subsequent use. The ground
surface sealed beneath the motte will retain evidence for land use immediately
prior to the castle's construction.
The associated earthwork and buried features belonging to the adjacent
settlement will preserve information relating to the development of this small
agricultural complex. The building platforms will retain details of the design
and function of the structures, and environmental evidence relating to the
activities which took place there. The ridged cultivation remains will have
retained evidence of the agricultural practices and for the species under
cultivation, while the hollow ways demonstrate the development of the
communication routes serving this small settlement. The close association of
these remains with the castle enhances interest in the monument as a whole.
When viewed in association with the other defensive sites in the area, the
monument contributes to our understanding of the political and social
organisation of medieval Herefordshire. The motte is a prominent local
landmark.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Jackson, R, Survey of a motte and bailey castle at Mynydd-Bryth, Dorstone, (1994), 1-17
Jackson, R, Survey of a motte and bailey castle at Mynydd-Bryth, Dorstone, (1994), 1-17
Kay, R S, Mynydd Bryth Tump, (1952)
Kay, R S, Mynydd Bryth Tump, (1952)

Source: Historic England

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