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Caus Castle: a small multivallate hillfort, a motte and bailey castle and a medieval borough

A Scheduled Monument in Westbury, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.6646 / 52°39'52"N

Longitude: -2.981 / 2°58'51"W

OS Eastings: 333749.870154

OS Northings: 307878.347081

OS Grid: SJ337078

Mapcode National: GBR B7.56R3

Mapcode Global: WH8BX.59Q3

Entry Name: Caus Castle: a small multivallate hillfort, a motte and bailey castle and a medieval borough

Scheduled Date: 17 October 1930

Last Amended: 18 September 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020147

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33848

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Westbury

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Westbury

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a small multivallate
hillfort within which are the earthwork, buried and upstanding structural
remains of a motte and bailey castle, and a small medieval market town or
The hillfort is situated on a prominent hill at the south eastern end of the
Long Mountain. From this location there are extensive views over the Rea Brook
valley to the south and east, and the undulating lowlands to the north. The
hillfort is roughly rectangular in plan, with overall dimensions of 200m north
west to south east by 565m south west to north east. The defensive circuit
defines an area of about 4.7ha. Its size would suggest it was the settlement
of a large community, where certain centralised economic and social activities
were practiced. The earthwork defences of the hillfort closely follow the
contours of the hill, which increase their defensive strength. Along the south
eastern side the earthwork defences consist of two ramparts, the outer faces
of which survive as steep scarps, separated by a ditch, visible as a distinct
depression to the north and a broad sloping terrace to the south. The southern
half of the defensive circuit along this side of the hill has been redefined
and strengthened where it coincides with the defences of the inner bailey of
the medieval castle. The south western end of the hillfort is defined by two
ramparts separated by a deep ditch. Further south, running in a straight line
and defining the base of the hill, is an outer rampart bounded on its northern
side by a ditch, now visible as a shallow depression. These earthworks define
the southern side of an original entranceway into the hillfort, which also
served as one of principal gateways into the medieval town. This entranceway,
which was partially altered in the medieval period, is defined on its northern
side by the rampart running along the top of north western side of the hill.
The outer face of this rampart survives as a steep scarp and is bounded by an
external ditch, now visible as a broad terrace. From about its mid point,
running north eastwards, this ditch is defined by an external rampart, the
outer face of which is also marked by a steep scarp. Downslope, an outer ditch
and counterscarp bank provide additional lines of defence, which continue
around the north eastern end of the hillfort. Sections of these defences have
been modified by the later quarrying for stone, by the construction of
post-medieval and modern farm buildings and associated access roads, and by
landscape gardening. At the northern and north eastern corners of the fort
are two further original entranceways, both of which also served as gateways
into the medieval town.
The motte and bailey castle was probably constructed by Roger Fitz Corbet, a
marcher lord, in the late 11th or early 12th century, as the `caput' (the
principal residence, military base and administrative centre) of his barony.
Caus takes its name from the Pays de Caux area of Normandy, the ancestral home
of Roger Fitz Corbet. Placename evidence suggests that Caus Castle superseded
a ringwork, a medieval defended enclosure, known as Hawcocks Mount, 1.2km to
the east, which is the subject of a separate scheduling.
The motte and bailey castle was constructed in the south eastern sector of the
prehistoric hillfort and provided an extensive view of the valley route
between Shrewsbury and Montgomery. The surrounding area within the hillfort
was regarded as the outer bailey of the castle, and it was here that the
borough of Caus was established, probably in the 12th century. The first
documentary reference to the castle at Caus is in 1140. In 1198 Robert Corbert
was permitted to carry out work to the castle by the Crown. It is considered
that this building programme probably represents the transition from timber
buildings to those constructed in stone.
In 1200 the neighbouring borough was granted a charter for a weekly market and
in 1248 permission was granted for a fair. The borough, which was established
primarily to serve the castle, appears to have prospered in the 13th century
and in the first half of the 14th century. Records indicate that the number of
burgages (properties within the borough) increased from 28 in 1274, to 34 in
1300 and to 58 in about 1349. By 1300 it is known that the borough had been
enclosed by a wall. Passage into and out of the town was controlled by gates
situated alongside the original entrance causeways into the hillfort. Two
gates are recorded in 1371; Wallop Gate to the south west and East Gate, which
occupied one of the entrance causeways to the north east. Within the town
there was a chapel dedicated to St Margaret, which was founded by Thomas
Corbet and his wife Isabel in 1272. Streets known as St Margaret Street and
Castle Street are recorded in 1447. In the latter half of 14th century the
town went into decline. This was partly caused by the Black Death, but was
also the result of changing political and economic conditions in this region.
In 1444 eight burgages were burnt during the rebellion of Sir Griffith
Vaughan. In 1581 the borough contained four cottages, three of which were
The castle was apparently occupied continuously by the Corbet family until the
death of Beatrice Corbet in 1347, after which date it passed to Ralph, Earl of
Stafford and it ceased to be permanently inhabited. It was garrisoned during
Owen Glendower's uprising in 1399 and during the rebellion of Sir Griffith
Vaughan in 1444. Throughout much of the 15th century the castle was
principally used as an administrative centre and as a prison.
There are numerous medieval documentary references to the castle buildings. It
is recorded that the castle had inner and outer gates, one of which was called
the Great Gate in 1458. Apparently located opposite the inner gate was a
chapel dedicated to St Nicholas, which was probably founded by 1200. The outer
gate, in which there was a prison, was separated from the castle ditch by a
barbican (a structure defending the entrance to a castle). Extensive building
work was carried out between 1367 and 1379. A `new' tower was recorded in 1379
and Grymbald's Tower was repaired in 1395. A postern (a side or rear
entranceway) called Wolvesgate, recorded in 1379, probably gave access to the
borough. Inner and outer baileys are mentioned in 1400, when the latter is
said to contain kennels and stables.
During the 15th century the castle was apparently kept in moderate repair, but
in 1521 it was said to be `in great ruin and decay'. By 1541 an extensive
rebuilding programme was underway. The outer gate was then remodelled and a
court-house constructed over the barbican. A new fashionable residence was
also created at this time. A brick building below the castle, known as `the
walk' was erected in 1556. In 1581 the castle was said to contain a hall, a
great chamber, kitchens, larders, butteries, cellars, a pantry, and other
houses of office, together with an inner gatehouse and a chapel. Lord Stafford
sold the castle to Sir Rowland Hayward in 1573. After a protracted dispute
with Hayward's son-in-law, John Thynne, Stafford relinquished possession in
1590. Between 1630 and about 1640 extensive alterations were carried out to
the castle, involving the complete rebuilding of the domestic quarters. In
1645 the castle was garrisoned for the king, but it was surrendered after a
short seige and was demolished shortly afterwards. The ruins of the castle
were used as a quarry for road-stone in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
The motte and the inner bailey of the castle were constructed on the highest
part of the hill top. The steep-sided roughly circular motte measures
approximately 56m by 60m at its base and 14m across the top, and stands about
15m high from the base of the encircling rock-cut ditch. On top of the motte
are the remains of an oval or D-shaped tower keep standing up to 2.1m high. It
is built of limestone, roughly coursed, and incorporating the pieces of
dressed red sandstone including a door or window jamb from an earlier
building. The rectangular inner bailey is situated to the north east of the
motte. A broad, deep, steep-sided ditch defines an internal area of
approximately 0.35ha. On the south eastern side, this ditch, which reuses the
line of the inner rampart and ditch of the hillfort, is bounded by a bank
constructed over the outer rampart of the hillfort. On the north western side,
the ditch defining the inner bailey is bounded by two ramparts separated by a
deep, steep-sided ditch. These outer defences also enclose the western half of
the motte. A narrow entrance passage, about 55m long, flanked on either side
by the earthwork defences, controlled the approach to the inner bailey from
the north east. A flat-topped D-shaped mound, about 7m by 14m across the top,
located at the end of the entrance passage on its north western side, probably
marks the site of a tower beside the outer gate. The inner gate, defined by
the remains of two stone-built towers constructed from the locally derived
shale, is situated at the north eastern end of the internal area of the
bailey. Along the north western and south eastern sides of the bailey are
remains of stone-built structures constructed around a central courtyard.
Embanked and exposed sections of walling of these structures stand up to 1m
high. At the western end of the courtyard, close to the base of the motte, is
a limestone ashlar-lined well.
The outer bailey of the castle, in which the medieval town was established, is
defined by the defences of the hillfort. At the north eastern corner, the
hillfort defences appear to have been modified in order to create a level
building platform for a gate tower next to the north western side of the
entrance passage. A well-defined terrace, marking the position of a former
street, runs from this entrance passage to the outer gate of the inner bailey
of the castle.
Leading up to the south western entrance of the town, known as the Wallop
Gate, is a hollow way formed by the continuous passage of traffic in and out
of the town. On the north western side, below the hillfort rampart, is a level
D-shaped platform, which appears to mark the position of a gate tower. A short
section of the gate wall remains visible, built into the eastern side of the
entrance passage at its northern end. This wall is constructed of roughly
coursed limestone, is 3.2m wide and stands 3.6m high. Running north eastwards
from this entrance passage, through the town/outer castle bailey, are a series
of terraces which indicate the positions of former streets and which would
have defined the burgage plots.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling, these are: the
farmhouse, associated outbuildings, the concrete bases of former outbuildings,
sheds, a stable, paths, trackway and yard surfaces, all free-standing modern
walls, fence and gate posts, the concrete water tower, the oil and diesel
storage containers and the concrete blocks on which they stand, a concrete and
brick-built drain inspection chamber, utility poles and ornamental garden
features, however, the ground beneath all these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are
defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set
earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the
interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or
more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been
constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first
century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements
of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest
that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with
display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a
rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks
and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by
one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or
inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists
of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures
interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety
of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of
small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a
similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples
recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west
with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the
rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding
the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period,
all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of
national importance.

The small multivallate hillfort at Caus is a good example of this class of
monument, which has been used and partially adapted in the medieval period to
form a motte and bailey castle, and a market town. It is one of a group of
broadly contemporary hillforts constructed along the hills overlooking the Rea
Brook valley. Within the hillfort at Caus, sealed beneath later occupation
deposits, a range of structural features, and artefactual and organic remains
are expected to survive, which have the potential to illustrate many aspects
of Iron Age life. The defences will retain evidence of their construction and
their partial modification in the medieval period. Organic remains surviving
in the buried ground surfaces beneath the ramparts and within the ditches will
also provide important information about the local environment and the use of
the land before and after the hillfort was constructed.
The reuse of the hillfort in the medieval period demonstates the continuing
importance of this site as a military focus and as a market centre. In
addition to the earthwork and upstanding remains of the motte and bailey
castle and the medieval borough, both will contain substantial buried deposits
and structural features, artefactual and organic remains. Together these
remains, and the numerous documentary references, will provide a detailed
picture of everyday life of the inhabitants of the site, allowing distinctions
and comparisons to be made between the residents of the castle and those
living in the town.
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 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.
Although only a small proportion of the population of medieval England lived
in towns, urban centres exerted a considerable influence on the social and
economic life of the country throughout the Middle Ages. They were centres of
government, of industry and commerce, acting as market centres for the
surrounding rural areas, and their demands for agricultural products provided
a stimulus to the production potential of their hinterlands. In order to
stimulate the economy new `planned' towns began to be established following
the Norman Conquest. Some 47 new towns were founded in England between 1066
and 1140. This process continued throughout the 12th and early 13th centuries.
The majority of these towns were attached to, and in many cases intimately
connected with, a royal or baronial castle. This was especially so in the
Welsh Marches, where the creation of towns was closely related to the westward
expansion of the territories of the Marcher lords. In relation to successful
towns, those that became deserted in the medieval period are comparatively
rare. As a consequence of their abandonment such towns are frequently
undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire : Volume VIII, (1968), 308-11
Buteux, V, 'Central Marches Historic Towns Report' in Archaeological Assessment of Caus, Shropshire, , Vol. Rpt 306, (1996)
Buteux, V, 'Central Marches Historic Towns Report' in Archaeological Assessment of Caus, Shropshire, , Vol. Rpt 306, (1996)
Buteux, V, 'Central Marches Historic Towns Report' in Archaeological Assessment of Caus, Shropshire, , Vol. Rpt 306, (1996)
County Series map. 1:2500 scale. Sheet: Shropshire 39.8, (1882)
Stamper, P, (2000)

Source: Historic England

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