Cleobury Mortimer Castle Toot

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are earthwork remains

NameCleobury Mortimer Castle Toot
Alternative NamesMawleytown Farm; Cleoberei
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishCleobury Mortimer

Castle Toot motte castle survives well and is a good example of its class. The castle earthworks survive largely intact, incorporated into the landscaped gardens of the house, and will contain stratified archaeological information concerning their age and method of construction. The foundations of the original buildings which stood on the site will survive as buried features in the interior of the castle. Evidence of walling associated with a gatehouse and entrance causeway or bridge, sited in the north east quarter of the site, will also survive as buried features. Archaeological evidence relating to the occupation of the site will survive throughout the site. Environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed will be preserved in the fill of the ditch and sealed on the old land surface beneath the ramparts. The castle is positioned to control a crossing point of the River Rea on the outskirts of the medieval settlement of Cleobury Mortimer. As such it contributes valuable information relating to the management of communications, settlement pattern, economy and social stucture of this area of the countryside during the medieval period.

The monument includes Castle Toot, a motte castle situated on a small promontory on the east bank of the River Rea. The position has been chosen to overlook and control a crossing point on the River Rea and uses the natural defensive strength of the topography to maximum strategic effect. Around the west, south and east sides of the promontory the natural hillslope has been cut back to form a steep scarp up to 5m high. At the foot of the scarp around the south, east and north east sides is a ditch averaging 4m wide and 2m deep; the spoil from the ditch has been thrown outwards to form a low outer bank 0.5m high. Both the scarp and ditch terminate in the north west and south west on the precipitous valley side which forms the north west side of the defences

The original entrance appears to have been in the north east quarter of the castle where a causeway crosses the ditch and passes through a simple entrance gap in the perimeter scarp. Fragments of walling and the remains of a gatehouse were visible in this area at the end of the 18th century and in 1911 stones forming the base of a causeway or bridge were observed. Today none of the original stonework remains visible though slight surface irregularities in the vicinity suggest that buried foundations remain close to the surface. A substantial house was built in the centre of the castle in the 1950s. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

There was another motte castle in Cleobury Mortimer at Castle Ditches near the parish church. Quite the reason for two castles of the the Mortimer's in Cleobury is unclear. This might be an early castle, replaced after its destruction in 1155, by the castle in the town, but one expects the earlier castle to have reused the Saxon thegnal site, usually by the church. A more likely chronology may be the castle in the town was destroyed in 1155 and then rebuilt, possible just as a simple manorial court, and with some of it's space redeveloped as commercial property. The residential house aspect of that castle was then moved to this new, more spacious, site (and one with the potential of having an attached deer park) and a house built, although still one with a motte and other defences reflecting a need for security and the important martial status of the Mortimers. If so then the building of a motte in the 1150/60s is relatively late for such a construction in England but mottes were constructed well into the C13 in Ireland.

- 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 ReferenceSO682760
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  • Duckers, Peter and Anne, 2006, Castles of Shropshire (Stroud: Tempus) p. 165-6
  • Salter, Mike, 2001 (2edn), The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 37
  • Jackson, M.J.,1988, Castles of Shropshire (Shrewsbury: Shropshire Libraries) p. 18-9
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 423
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 209
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 144
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Auchmuty, S.F., 1911, The History of Cleobury Mortimer p. 5 online copy
  • Wall (after Downham), 1908, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Shropshire Vol. 1 p. 371-3 (plan)
  • Eyton, R.W., 1857, Antiquities of Shropshire (London: John Russell Smith) Vol. 4 p. 193- (tenurial history) online copy


  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)

Primary Sources

  • Howlett, R. (ed), 1884, 'Historia Rerum Anglicarum of William of Newburgh' in Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II, and Richard I (Rolls series 82) Vol. 1 p. 105 online copy
  • Howlett, R. (ed), 1889, 'The Chronicle of Robert of Torigni' in Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II, and Richard I (Rolls series 73) Vol. 4 p. 184-5 online copy


  • English Heritage, 1995, Scheduling Papers (Revision, 31/07/1995)
  • Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, nd, Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 25258