Ancient Monuments

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Motte castle adjacent to Oaklands Hall, Chirk Bank

A Scheduled Monument in Weston Rhyn, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.9259 / 52°55'33"N

Longitude: -3.0571 / 3°3'25"W

OS Eastings: 329030.567219

OS Northings: 337025.716314

OS Grid: SJ290370

Mapcode National: GBR 73.MMX4

Mapcode Global: WH89J.0QH8

Entry Name: Motte castle adjacent to Oaklands Hall, Chirk Bank

Scheduled Date: 18 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019299

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33814

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Weston Rhyn

Built-Up Area: Chirk Bank

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Weston Rhyn St John

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle built
on an east to north east facing slope and occupying a commanding position at
the top of the southern side of the Ceiriog valley. The River Ceiriog is the
ancient border between England and Wales. On the opposite side of the
valley, 550m to the north, there is another motte castle which is the
subject of a separate scheduling. These castles appear to have been sited to
give a clear view of each other in order to control the movement of people
crossing the border and passing along the river valley.
The flat-topped, steep sided oval mound is constructed of earth and stone. It
measures approximately 26m by 40m at its base, 10m by 26m across the top, and
varies in height from 1.3m at the west to 3m at the east. A terraced path has
been cut into the northern side of the mound. 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 and survives as a buried feature, approximately 5m wide.
The garage and the concrete plinth on which it stands, the driveway and the
telegraph poles are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
all these features 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 adjacent to Oaklands Hall is a well-preserved example of this
class of monument, despite some later modification to its northern side. The
mound will retain buried evidence relating to the nature of the occupation 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 motte castle on the
opposite side of the valley at Chirk.

Source: Historic England

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