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Alberbury Castle: tower keep castle 70m south west of the Church of St Michael and All Angels

A Scheduled Monument in Alberbury with Cardeston, Shropshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.7234 / 52°43'24"N

Longitude: -2.952 / 2°57'7"W

OS Eastings: 335801.551834

OS Northings: 314400.530264

OS Grid: SJ358144

Mapcode National: GBR B8.1FY3

Mapcode Global: WH8BJ.MTJ0

Entry Name: Alberbury Castle: tower keep castle 70m south west of the Church of St Michael and All Angels

Scheduled Date: 16 May 1934

Last Amended: 5 July 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020662

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34923

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Alberbury with Cardeston

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Alberbury

Church of England Diocese: Hereford

Details

The monument includes the standing structural and buried remains of Alberbury
Castle. It is situated very close to the present border between England and
Wales, on a gentle rise above the flood plain of the River Severn, and is
overlooked by higher ground to the south. The castle is located 70m south west
of the Church of St Michael and All Angels, which dates from the 12th century.
The standing cross in the churchyard is the subject of a separate scheduling.
The castle also lies 1.78km to the north of Wattlesborough Castle, a tower
keep castle, dating from the 12th or 13th century, which is also the subject
of a separate scheduling.
Alberbury Castle was probably built by Fulk Fitz Warin (III) in the early 13th
century, when it appears to have been the centre of the manor of Alberbury.
Descendants of Fulk Fitz Warin (III) are known to have retained the lordship
of the manor until the mid-14th century. Fulk Glas (II), who was apparently
resident at Alberbury in 1327 and 1332, is known to have been lord of the
manor until 1347. In the late 14th century the descent of the manor becomes
obscure, and it is also unclear how long the castle continued to be occupied.
A map of 1579 clearly shows the castle as an unenclosed, rectangular roofed
structure.
Documentary sources indicate that in the early 17th century there was a large
house nearby at Loton. This house appears to have been replaced by Loton Park
Hall, located 350m to the north west, built in the late 17th century. It would
seem likely that by this time the castle had little function other than
possibly as a lodge adjacent to the main drive to the Hall. A drawing of the
castle indicates that by the late 18th century the structure was roofless and
in ruins.
The tower keep is constructed of irregularly coursed Alberbury breccia, a
locally derived stone. Dressed sandstone was used around the window openings
and as corbels (upper floor supports). The building is rectangular in plan and
measures approximately 13.5m by 17m. The walls, which are about 2.3m wide at
ground level, stand to a maximum height of about 9m. The structural evidence
suggests that the building was originally two storeys high. The hall, used for
ceremonial and public occasions, and the private chambers were situated on the
first floor. The ground floor was probably used mainly for storage. There is
no evidence on either floor of internal masonry cross walls or sub-divisions.
The configuration of the window openings, their irregular heights and sizes,
suggest changes in the arrangement of rooms as the need for defence became
secondary to comfort and convenience as a dwelling. These structural
alterations probably relate to the more peaceful conditions in the region
following the conquest of Wales by Edward I in the late 13th century.
The castle is a Listed Building Grade II*.
Probably between the mid-17th and the mid-18th century a substantial stone
wall was built to enclose the remains of the tower keep and the ground towards
the church. This enclosure, previously viewed as part of the castle's
defences, is now considered to have been constructed as a way of enhancing the
visual impact of the castle as a feature within Loton Park Hall estate. The
enclosure wall is a Listed Building Grade II* (with the castle), and the
estate wall adjoining the tower keep to the south is a Listed Building
Grade II.
The enclosure wall and estate wall, the iron ladder fixed to the wall within
the interior of the tower keep, the fence posts, and the shed and store to the
south, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these
features is included.


MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A tower keep castle is a strongly fortified residence in which the keep is the
principal defensive feature. The keep may be free-standing or surrounded by a
defensive enclosure; they are normally square in shape, although other shapes
are known. Internally they have several floors providing accommodation of
various types. If the keep has an attached enclosure this will normally be
defined by a defensive wall, frequently with an external ditch. Access into
the enclosure was provided by a bridge across the ditch, allowing entry via a
gatehouse. Additional buildings, including stabling for animals and workshops,
may be found within the enclosure. Tower keep castles were built throughout
the medieval period, from immediately after the Norman Conquest to the mid-
15th century, with a peak in the middle of the 12th century. A few were
constructed on the sites of earlier earthwork castle types but most were new
creations. They provided strongly fortified residences for the king or leading
families and occur in both urban or rural situations. Tower keep castles are
widely dispersed throughout England with a major concentration on the Welsh
border. They are rare nationally with only 104 recorded examples. Considerable
diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With
other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to
the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative
centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles
generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a
valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and
defence, and to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples retaining
significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally
important.

Alberbury Castle is a good example of this class of monument. The structural
details that are evident from the standing remains provide valuable evidence
about the changing nature of military architecture and the domestic
requirements of the nobility in the Welsh Marches during the 13th and 14th
centuries. The proximity of Alberbury Castle to Wattlesborough Castle allows
comparisions and distinctions to be made about the roles tower keep castles
played in this region. At Alberbury, structural features and associated
deposits within the interior of the tower keep and around the exterior are
expected to survive well, buried under fallen masonry. These deposits are
likely to contain artefacts and organic remains which will provide significant
information about the activities and lifestyles of those who inhabited the
castle. In addition, documentary sources provide information about the
castle's owners in the 13th and 14th centuries. During the post-medieval
period the remains of the castle assumed a new importance as a feature within
the recently created designed landscape of Loton Park. The castle remains a
prominent feature within the landscape.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire : Volume VIII, (1968), 195-96
The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire : Volume VIII, (1968), 199
Wheatley, J G J, Jefferson, D, Alberbury Castle, Shropshire, (1998)
Wheatley, J G J, Jefferson, D, Alberbury Castle, Shropshire, (1998)
'Transactions of Shropshire Archaeological Society - 3rd Series' in Alberbury Castle, (1908)
'Transactions of Shropshire Archaeological Society - 3rd Series' in Alberbury Castle, (1908)
'Transactions of Shropshire Archaeological Society - 3rd Series' in Village of Alberbury in 1780, , Vol. 3, (1908)
Other
SRO Acc No 3393/5, Hardinge, R, The Black Abbey Grounde, (1579)

Source: Historic England

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