Ancient Monuments

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Motte castle 100m north east of Howton Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Kenderchurch, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 51.96 / 51°57'36"N

Longitude: -2.853 / 2°51'10"W

OS Eastings: 341484.218846

OS Northings: 229400.975944

OS Grid: SO414294

Mapcode National: GBR FD.LNY4

Mapcode Global: VH78J.HZLV

Entry Name: Motte castle 100m north east of Howton Farm

Scheduled Date: 1 June 1962

Last Amended: 1 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014882

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27522

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Kenderchurch

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Kilpeck

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval motte
castle, situated on the floodplain of the Worm Brook, a tributary of the River
Dore, near the southern end of the Golden Valley. The area is seasonally
flooded, and the brook which flows within 10m of the monument has been
straightened to minimise this flooding. The remains include an earthen mound
of circular form, c.45m in diameter at the base, rising c.2m to a flat top of
c.30m diameter. A slight step is visible about one third of the way up the
side of the mound, on all but the north west side, where erosion around a
large oak tree has modified its profile. This step probably marks the position
of a palisade or walkway around the motte. Material for the construction of
the mound will have been obtained from the surrounding ditch, which is now
largely infilled but is visible around most of the mound as a slight
depression with thicker and darker grass than elsewhere. The ditch averages
10m wide and survives to a depth of c.0.3m on the south east side. Traces of a
slight external or counterscarp bank are visible on the south east, south west
and west sides, surviving as a flattened bank some 8m wide. A break in this
feature in the SSE quarter, c.8m wide and discernible as a stretch of slightly
darker grass, probably represents an inlet channel, controlling the amount of
water filling the ditch from the brook to the east. Evidence for the sluice
which controlled the water level will survive buried within the remains of the
The Marches area is noted for its concentration of medieval defensive
monuments, and the monument is one of several guarding the Golden Valley route
into Wales. In common with many similar examples, the proximity of a later
residence, in this case Howton Court, illustrates the continuation of lordly
occupation in this location.
The fence across the north east side of the mound is excluded from the
scheduling, however the ground beneath it 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.

The motte castle 100m north east of Howton Farm is a well-preserved example of
this class of monument. The motte mound will preserve evidence for 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 by the material which has accumulated in the ditch. These ditch
deposits will also contain environmental evidence relating to the activities
which took place at the motte, and for land use in the surrounding area. The
old ground surface sealed beneath the mound and bank will preserve evidence
for land use immediately prior to the motte's construction. The bank itself
will retain evidence for its construction and for any defensive barrier which
surmounted it, as well as the buried foundations of the sluice which
controlled the water supply to the ditch.
In its strategic position guarding the southern approaches to the Golden
Valley, the motte castle north east of Howton Farm forms part of the wider
picture of the medieval defences of the county. When viewed in association
with other similar monuments in the area it can contribute to our
understanding of the political and social organisation of medieval

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Gould, I C, The Victoria History of the County of Herefordshire: Volume I, (1908), 227
Jack, G H, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club' in , , Vol. 1911, (1911), 235
Atkin, Malcolm, (1995)
SMR info, MHB, (1972)

Source: Historic England

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