Knockin Castle

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

There are earthwork remains

NameKnockin Castle
Alternative NamesCnockin; Cnukin; Knockyn; Knoking; Cnucin
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishKnockin

The motte and bailey castle immediately to the east of St Mary's Church is a well-preserved example of this class of monument, despite later modification to the top of the motte and the eastern side of the bailey. The remains of the structures that stood on the motte and within the remaining part of the bailey are expected to survive as buried features, which together with the associated artefacts and organic remains will provide valuable evidence about the activities and the lifestyle of the inhabitants. Organic remains surviving within the buried ground surface under the motte and within the ditches surrounding the motte and to the north of the bailey will provide information about the changes to the local environment and the use of the land before and after the castle was constructed. The proximity of the castle to the church and the neighbouring planned settlement provides a clear indication of the inter-relationship between the different sectors of medieval society in the early Middle Ages. The importance of the castle is further enhanced by the documentary sources which indicate when the castle was founded and provide details of ownership. The motte remains a prominent feature within the landscape.

The monument includes the earthwork, structural and buried remains of a motte and bailey castle, immediately east of St Mary's Church which was established by Ralph Le Strange between 1182 and 1195. The castle and the church lie at the eastern end of the village of Knockin, which is believed to have been deliberately planned and laid out in the mid- to late 12th century. The castle was founded by Guy Le Strange between 1154 and 1160, and it was to remain the principal holding or 'caput' of the Le Strange family for most of the Middle Ages. It is not known when the castle was abandoned, but Leland in about 1540 describes it as 'a ruinous thing'

The castle occupies a low-lying position in an area of of gently undulating land and is bounded to the east and west by tributaries of the Weir Brook. The steep sided rectangular motte measures approximately 60m by 70m at its base, 46m by 54m across the top, and stands up to 4m high. Quarrying for sand and gravel has modified much of the surface of the southern half of the motte, and there is a modern mound, into which a concrete flag base has been set, on top of the motte next to its eastern side. The ditch which surrounds the motte and separates it from the bailey has largerly been infilled. The L-shaped bailey, about 0.6ha in area, lies to the east and north of the motte and is defined by a series of scarps between 0.4m and 1.2m high. The northern side of the bailey is bounded by a ditch, now a shallow depression, between 11m and 14m wide, and by an outer bank about 8m wide and 0.4m high. On the eastern side of the motte there are the remains of a medieval stone built causeway, about 5m wide, which originally connected the motte to the bailey. It is constructed of dressed red sandstone blocks and stands 1.5m high and is included in the scheduling. Much of the eastern part of the bailey is occupied by The Rectory, built in 1901, associated outbuildings and the surrounding garden. Extensive landscaping of this area in the 20th century is considered to have severely affected the preservation of archaeological remains and as a consequence the area is not included in the scheduling. (Scheduling Report)

Founded by Guy le Strange in reign of Henry II. Last mention in 1322 Ruinous by early C16 (VCH 1908; Eyton 1887; Leland).

Motte: Large oblong 19ft high on the north where ditch is 5ft deep. Modern mound at SE. Bailey: to the east of the castle and bounded only by a scarp. On the south a fragment of curtain wall (Hogg and King 1967)

Tree covered. Encloses 1.4 acres. No masonry surviving. A curved ditch visible on air photos and running from SJ3325 2243 to SJ3345 2251 may be part of the earthworks of the borough. The stream on the west side of the motte is a leet, but location of mill obscure (1977. Ordnance Survey Record Card SJ32SW4).

Dense tree cover except on summit. The mound at the SE corner has clearly been built from material from the southern part of the flat summit, which is hollowed out in this area. On the south and west sides, however, there does seem to be a bank encircling the perimeter of the motte. In the rectory garden the scarp is now hardly traceable. On the north side the break is very much spread and any western extension is covered by modern houses. A ditch is very clearly visible on the north side (Burrow Ian. 1977-Sep-02. Visit Notes).

A further bailey may have enclosed the church, and the borough may also have been surrounded by an earthwork. An earthwork beyond the motte guarded the manorial mill (TSAHS 1957). (Shropshire HER)

Gatehouse Comments

Caput of half a dozen manors held by the le Strange family for two knights'-fee.

- 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 ReferenceSJ334223
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
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. 93-5
  • Salter, Mike, 2001 (2edn), The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 48
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 476
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 219 (slight)
  • Jackson, M.J.,1988, Castles of Shropshire (Shrewsbury: Shropshire Libraries) p. 31
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 426
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 250
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 220
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 134
  • Le Strange, 1916, Le Strange Records (London) p. 64-5
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Wall (after Downham), 1908, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Shropshire Vol. 1 p. 396
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 137 online copy
  • Eyton, R.W., 1860, Antiquities of Shropshire (London: John Russell Smith) Vol. 10 p. 365- (tenurial history) online copy


  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England (Sutton Publishing) p. 397
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 14 online copy


  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 1957-60, 'Ellesmere Annual Excursion 1957' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 56 p. 3
  • 1914, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 4 p. 151-60
  • 1891, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 3 p. 238
  • Eyton, R.W., 1887, 'The castles of Shropshire' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 10 p. 20-1

Primary Sources

  • Pipe Rolls 1165, 1196, 1197 (see Pipe Roll Society for published references)
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1904, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward II (1321-24) Vol. 4 p. 49 online copy
  • Stubbs, W. (ed), 1880, The Minor Works comprising the Gesta regum with its continuation, the Actus pontificum, and the Mappa mundi, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls series 73) Vol. 2 p. 436 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 415


  • Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, 1983, Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 13705