St Martins, Oaklands Mount

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameSt Martins, Oaklands Mount
Alternative NamesChirk Bank
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishWeston Rhyn

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.

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. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

This site was probably one of five berewicks in the extensive but sparsely populated (and still mainly welsh) Domesday manor of Westone (Weston Rhyn. A named subtenant, Robert, held one hide from Reginald the sheriff but it is not possible to say if this motte represent the site of his holding or what service he held the tenancy by. However, it would seem likely the motte, adjacent to a seemingly unfortified or simply fenced, and probably isolated, hall and farm would have been surmount by a wooden tower the main function of which would most likely a symbolic representation of the military status of the farms tenant, possibly owing castle guard to Oswestry or Shrewsbury castle. However, in this case, the motte does overlook a crossing of the River Ceiriog, which marks the welsh border at this point but there are other nearby crossings of the river which are not 'guarded' by castles and this 'guard post' could have be bypassed although legitimate travellers and drovers may have been willing to pay some toll to use the convenient road overlooked by this motte and Castell y Waun on the other bank.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSJ290370
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
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  • Duckers, Peter and Anne, 2006, Castles of Shropshire (Stroud: Tempus) p. 58
  • Salter, Mike, 2001 (2edn), The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 88 (slight)
  • Jackson, M.J.,1988, Castles of Shropshire (Shrewsbury: Shropshire Libraries) p. 51
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 429
  • Wall (after Downham), 1908, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Shropshire Vol. 1 p. 387-8, 412
  • Eyton, R.W., 1860, Antiquities of Shropshire (London: John Russell Smith) Vol. 10 p. 361- (tenurial history) online copy


  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1963, 'Early castles in Wales and the Marches: a preliminary list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 112 p. 77-124