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Middleton Mount motte and bailey castle

A Scheduled Monument in Middleton, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.7201 / 52°43'12"N

Longitude: 0.4578 / 0°27'28"E

OS Eastings: 566094.919074

OS Northings: 316439.17122

OS Grid: TF660164

Mapcode National: GBR P5J.GJT

Mapcode Global: WHKQD.0W8K

Entry Name: Middleton Mount motte and bailey castle

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Last Amended: 19 March 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016481

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30551

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Middleton

Built-Up Area: Middleton

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte and bailey
castle which is located about 480m NNW of St Mary's Church and the centre of
the village of Middleton, on the edge of a rise commanding a view of the lower
ground to the west, north and south west. Underlying the castle there are
buried remains relating to earlier occupation of the site, probably during the
Late Saxon period.

The motte is visible as a steep-sided, sub-circular mound, approximately 45m
in diameter and 10m in height measured from the present ground level, and is
encircled by a ditch approximately 8m wide which remains open to a depth of
about 2.5m. At the top of the mound is a platform measuring approximately 9m
across east-west on which would have stood a timber tower. A semi-circular
hollow in the northern side of the platform may be the result of later
quarrying. Limited excavations have established that the bailey adjoined the
motte on the eastern side and took the form of a sub-rectangular enclosure
with internal dimensions of about 58m north west-south east by 36m north
east-south west, and an entrance at the north east corner. It was surrounded
on the north west, north east and south east sides by a ditch which ran
outward from the ditch around the motte, and this would have been accompanied
by an internal bank constructed of the material dug from the ditch. The bank
has been levelled, but the ditch, although completely infilled and no longer
visible, survives as a buried feature about 3m deep and varying in width from
about 5m to 13m. Overlying the south western end of the ditch and its junction
with the motte are the remains of a later pond, marked by a rectangular
depression embanked around the north east corner, and there is a later quarry
pit to the north of the motte.

Evidence for occupation of the site prior to the construction of the castle
bailey was recovered during the excavation of a small area adjacent to the
bailey ditch and included remains of part of a substantial timber building.

It is possible that the castle was constructed soon after the Norman Conquest
but fragments of pottery recovered during the excavation show that it was
occupied during the first half of the 12th century, and it may well date from
the time of the civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud (1139-
1153) when many unlicensed castles were built. The castle would have been
associated with one of the four medieval manors recorded in Middleton -
probably the one later known as Castlehall Manor, which was held at the time
of the Domesday Survey by William de Ecouis and subsequently passed by
marriage to the Earls of Clare. By the mid-14th century it was in the hands of
the Scales family, whose principal manor was centred at Middleton Tower moated
site, 1.3km to the north west of the castle.

All modern fences and gates and an information board near the site of the
entrance to the bailey are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Motte and bailey 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-bailey 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 and
bailey 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 or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally,
with examples known from most regions. 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 known as Middleton Mount remains an impressive monument, and the
limited excavations carried out on the site have demonstrated the survival,
below the ground surface, of a substantial bailey ditch. The motte, the fill
of the bailey ditch and the buried remains of the bailey will retain
archaeological information concerning the date and manner of the construction
of the castle and its subsequent occupation, including evidence for the tower
on the motte. The remains of earlier occupation which were also noted during
the course of the excavation and which are likely to survive particularly well
in the soils buried beneath the mound, give the monument additional interest.

Source: Historic England


A, NAU TF 6616/J, (1977)
Rogerson, A, (1998)
Title: Middleton, Tithe Map
Source Date: 1839
NRO ref. PD640/15

Source: Historic England

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