Ancient Monuments

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Motte castle immediately north west of Middleton Chapel

A Scheduled Monument in Bitterley, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.3923 / 52°23'32"N

Longitude: -2.6777 / 2°40'39"W

OS Eastings: 353976.423316

OS Northings: 277360.558363

OS Grid: SO539773

Mapcode National: GBR BM.QHG9

Mapcode Global: VH844.J4RC

Entry Name: Motte castle immediately north west of Middleton Chapel

Scheduled Date: 3 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019200

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33803

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Bitterley

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Bitterley with Middleton

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle
constructed on a south east facing slope on high ground overlooking the valley
of Ledwyche Brook. It lies to the north west of Middleton Chapel, built in the
12th century and not included in the scheduling.
The motte was constructed of earth and is oval in plan, and measures
approximately 18m by 32m and stands up to 3.5m high. It has a distinct stepped
profile, which is believed to be original although the mound may have been
subject to later modification. The south western half of the motte is about 2m
higher than the portion to the north east, and the southern and eastern sides
here are particularly steep.
The size of the motte suggests it was only large enough to support a watch
tower. Although no longer visible at ground level, a ditch from which material
was quarried during the construction of the monument, surrounds the mound.
This has become infilled over the years but will survive as a buried feature,
approximately 5m wide.
All fences, the gate post, associated walls, and the surface of the road
leading to Middleton Chapel where it falls within the area of the monument are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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 immediately north west of Middleton Chapel is an unusual
example of this class of monument. The mound will retain evidence of its
construction and the structures that were built upon it. Organic remains
preserved within the buried ground surface under the mound and within the
surrounding ditch will provide valuable evidence about the local environment
and the use of the land before and after the motte castle was constructed. The
importance of the monument is further enhanced by its association with the
neighbouring 12th century chapel.

Source: Historic England

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