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Motte castle 280m south of New Buildings Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Kentchurch, Herefordshire,

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.9385 / 51°56'18"N

Longitude: -2.8427 / 2°50'33"W

OS Eastings: 342163.712377

OS Northings: 227002.024909

OS Grid: SO421270

Mapcode National: GBR FD.N5HM

Mapcode Global: VH78Q.PJ1S

Entry Name: Motte castle 280m south of New Buildings Farm

Scheduled Date: 31 January 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016354

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27546

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Kentchurch

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Kentchurch

Church of England Diocese: Hereford

Details

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval motte
castle, situated on a small promontory near the head of the south east facing
valley of a tributary of the River Monnow. The remains include an earthen
motte mound, oval in plan, with steep sides that rise to a roughly level
summit measuring c.40m north-south by 25m east-west. Material for the
construction of the mound will have been obtained from the ditch which
surrounds it on all but the south west side, where the ground drops steeply to
the brook. The ditch averages 5m wide, and is most clearly visible on the
north side, where it survives up to 2m deep. Access to the motte appears to
have been via a causeway across the ditch in the north east quarter. South of
this the ditch is less distinct, and diverts westwards from its circuit to
enclose a detached earthen mound roughly 15m north west-south east by 6m
transversely. The shallow ditch continues round the south side of this second
mound and past the south end of the motte, making the south east corner of the
ditch somewhat angular. The summit of the motte is c.4m above the base of the
ditch, and is also obscured by vegetation. However, three platforms were
recorded in 1931, and these will represent the remains of the structures which
occupied the motte.
The motte 280m south of New Buildings Farm sits in a line between two similar
mottes, at Howton Farm some 2.5km to the NNW (the subject of a separate
scheduling, SM 27522), and at Corras 2km to the south. Two further monuments
at the mouth of the valley, a medieval moated site (SM27540) and Kentchurch
Court, which has 14th century origins, place the monument in a sequence of
lordly occupation, which culminated in the post-medieval development of
Kentchurch Court.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 0 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 280m south of New Buildings Farm is a well-preserved example
of this class of monument, with an unusual ancillary earthwork. Both mounds
will preserve evidence for their method of construction, including post holes
for revetments and palisades, and for the tower which surmounted the motte.
Evidence for structures such as a bridge will be preserved in the ditch. The
ditch deposits will also contain environmental evidence relating to the
activities which took place at the monument, and for land use in the
surrounding area. The old ground surface sealed beneath the mounds will
preserve evidence for land use immediately prior to the motte's construction.
In its strategic position above the Monnow Valley, the monument forms part of
the wider picture of the medieval defences in 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
Herefordshire.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
RCHME, RCHME Herefordshire, Volume 1, (1931)

Source: Historic England

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