Smethcott Castle Field

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameSmethcott Castle Field
Alternative Names
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishSmethcott

The motte and bailey castle to the west of Smethcott church survives well and is a good example of its class. Partial excavations on the site have demonstrated the survival in good condition of further evidence relating to the occupation of the site. Environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which the castle was constructed will survive sealed beneath the mound and in the ditch fill. Such motte and bailey castles contribute information concerning the settlement pattern, economy and social structure of the countryside and in this respect the close physical relationship between the castle and the church is also of interest. The monument includes the earthwork remains of a motte and bailey castle situated on the summit of a ridge lying roughly east to west with gentle slopes to the north and steep slopes to the south. The earthworks include a well defined motte with a base diameter of 40m rising 2.8m to a flat topped summit 16m in diameter. The bailey lies on the south side of the motte and is an oval enclosure with dimensions of 50m north to south by 35m east to west bounded by a well defined scarp slope varying between 1.2m and 1.7m high. There is no visible trace of a ditch surrounding the motte from which the material for its construction would have been quarried though one survives as a buried feature with a width of 3m. Similarly the outer ditch surrounding the bailey is not visible at ground level, though it will survive as a buried feature with a width of 3m. Excavations carried out at the monument in 1956-58 revealed the existence of the motte ditch, a timber structure on the summit of the motte and stone foundations outside of the ditch on the east side. Finds made at that time, including some whole cooking pots, indicated that the site was occupied in the 12th and 13th centuries. (Scheduling Report) Hilltop motte and bailey west of Church. Motte flat topped 14ft (3m) above ground level

Base diameter 28m and bailey to S 50m N/S, 35m E/W bounded by scarp 6m wide and 1m-1.5m high. No traces of ditch of motte or bailey (OS record card 1972)

Excavations in 1956-8: C12 -C13 occupation. Timber structure on summit of motte, motte ditch and stone foundations outside ditch on east (Gamble 1959).

The site lies on a roughly E/W ridge with a gentle slope down to the north and very steep slopes immediately beyond the bailey bank to the south. The motte is noticeably flatter and lower than is usual. The site is in good condition and under permanent grass (Site visit report: Burrow Ian. 1977-May-22). (Shropshire HER)

S. E. Thomas dug this low mound and found it was surrounded by a V-shaped ditch 10 ft. across cut into clean natural sand. Outside the ditch was a horseshoe-shaped stone structure about 9 ft. wide and about five courses high. Adjoining this was an open semicircle, 12 ft. in diameter and 2 ft. thick, also about five courses tall. There was nothing to indicate any difference in date between the two structures or between them and the ditch and the mound. The pottery dates from c. 1200-1250. (Med. Arch. 1957)

The main task of the second season's excavation directed by J. X. W. P. Corcoran (cf. Med. Archaeol., I (1957), 157) was to trace post-holes on the very much denuded summit of the motte. Although it was found that the medieval occupation layer had been destroyed by more recent ploughing and by natural soil-creep, a number of post-holes were identified. At the end of the season it was not yet possible to decipher the original plan of the wooden structure thus revealed. No artifact other than fragments of pottery were found.

Further attention was paid to the ditch area in the SE. quadrant and a considerable amount of pottery, broadly contemporary with that found in 1956, was found. Other artifacts included parts of a sheet-bronze dress-ornament embodying a central fleur-de-lys motive. The purpose of the stone structure discovered in 1956 is still unknown, although further post-holes have been located near by. (Med. Arch. 1958)

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 ReferenceSO448993
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  • Duckers, Peter and Anne, 2006, Castles of Shropshire (Stroud: Tempus) p. 152
  • Salter, Mike, 2001 (2edn), The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 75
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford)
  • Jackson, M.J.,1988, Castles of Shropshire (Shrewsbury: Shropshire Libraries)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 430
  • Gaydon, A.T. (ed), 1968, VCH Shropshire Vol. 8 p. 149, 153-5 (photo)
  • Wall (after Downham), 1908, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Shropshire Vol. 1 p. 399
  • Cobbold, E.S., 1904, in Campbell-Hyslop and Cobbold (eds), Church Stretton: Some Results of Local Scientific Research (Shrewsbury) Vol. 3 p. 49-50
  • Eyton, R.W., 1858, Antiquities of Shropshire (London: John Russell Smith) Vol. 6 p. 250-57 (tenurial history) online copy


  • King, D.J.Cathcart, 1972, 'The Field Archaeology of mottes; Eine kurze übersicht' Château Gaillard Vol. 5 p. 101-112 esp. 102
  • 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
  • Gamble, G.S., 1959, Shropshire Archaeological Society newsletter Vol. 6 p. 3
  • 1958, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 2 p. 195 online copy
  • 1957, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 1 p. 157 online copy


  • English Heritage, 1994, Scheduling Papers (Revision, 17/05/1994)
  • Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, 1983, Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 13708
  • Thomas, S., 1956, Excavation Report