Ancient Monuments

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Mouse motte and bailey castle

A Scheduled Monument in Clifford, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.0754 / 52°4'31"N

Longitude: -3.0981 / 3°5'53"W

OS Eastings: 324838.733415

OS Northings: 242460.459857

OS Grid: SO248424

Mapcode National: GBR F2.CG4H

Mapcode Global: VH780.831B

Entry Name: Mouse motte and bailey castle

Scheduled Date: 26 September 1952

Last Amended: 18 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019488

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30080

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Clifford

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Cusop

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte and bailey
castle known as Mouse Castle, located on a natural headland with steeply
sloping sides in all directions except to the north east where the land falls
away more gently.
The castle includes a motte standing 4m to 5m high and measuring 15m to 20m in
diameter on the summit and approximately 50m in diameter around the base. This
is surrounded by a ditch 4m to 5m wide and 1m to 3m deep which is best
preserved on the northern side, with traces of a counterscarp bank on the
north side. A further outer rampart measuring 10m to 12m wide and up to 3m
high survives to the north and east. To the south east of the motte are the
remains of the entrance to the complex including a large hollow way cutting
through the outer ramparts.
The monument is one of a number of medieval defensive sites located in
strategic positions above the Wye Valley and is believed to have been
constructed by Roger De Lacy, although its unusual form has led to suggestions
that the castle may have been remodelled from a pre-existing Iron Age hill
fort. The natural topography, however, suggests that the motte is formed from
an outcrop enhanced by quarrying and the construction of the earthen ramparts.
The modern post and wire fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath 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 remains at Mouse Castle preserve an unusual Norman motte, in good
condition with little evidence of recent disturbance. The castle will preserve
evidence for the internal composition of its earthworks, as well as for the
accommodation provided on the motte and within the bailey. This will help
further study of the functions and the relationships of high status and
defensive settlements within a frontier region during the early years of the
Norman Conquest. Surviving environmental deposits will provide insights into
the landscape in which the monument was constructed.

Source: Historic England


unpublished notes in SMR, Various SMR and CAO officers, Mouse Castle,

Source: Historic England

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