Ratley Motte

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

There are earthwork remains

NameRatley Motte
Alternative Names
Historic CountryWarwickshire
Modern AuthorityWarwickshire
1974 AuthorityWarwickshire
Civil ParishRatley and Upton

Medieval motte and bailey castle, with possible Saxon origins. The motte measures 13m across at the summit and stands 6m above the base of the surrounding ditch. There are two baileys one to the north west and one to the south east. Excavations between 1968 and 1973 discovered a few C12 to C13 artefacts. Motte built on ringwork, footings of stone gatehouse found. Motte standing on a wedge-shaped hill. It is about 13m across at the top and has very steep sides 5 to 6.7m above the ditch which is formed round it. There is a small bailey on the N side enclosed by a high bank and on the S is an enclosure 20-23m across with a somewhat irregular bank. The whole surface of the enclosed area is much broken, presumably by people digging for stone. The buildings of Ratley village may have been built out of stone from the castle. The Motte must have been crowned by a timber tower, the S enclosure is possibly the site of later buildings, the bailey being too small to contain them in the usual way. Turchil the Saxon owned Ratley and he or one of his sons may well have been responsible for the castle. (Warwickshire HER ref. Chatwin)

The motte and bailey castle 130m north west of Manor Farm survives well and is a good example of this type of monument. Archaeological excavations within the northern bailey have revealed structural and artefactual remains dating from the 12th and 13th centuries and further evidence of medieval structures and for the economy of the castle's inhabitants will exist beneath the ground surface. Only a small proportion of the site has been excavated and substantial deposits will thus survive undisturbed.

The castle occupies a commanding position on a small hill where the ground falls away steeply on all sides. The flat-topped motte is located in the central part of the site and has been artificially raised. It measures 13m across its summit and stands approximately 6m above the surrounding ditch

The motte has two associated baileys, one to the north west; the other lies south east of the motte. The former has a 'D'-shaped plan and is bounded by an earthen bank and a rock-cut ditch, whilst the southern bailey measures approximately 20m across and is enclosed by an irregular bank which is most evident along the east side. Small-scale excavations between 1968 and 1973 of the northern bailey have provided evidence for the occupation of the castle and demonstrated that part of this bailey has been slightly modified by later quarrying. The footings of a stone structure were located at the northernmost edge of the bailey. Artefacts recovered during the excavation include 12th and 13th century pottery and fragments of bronze. Archaeological investigation of the break in the northern bailey bank indicated that this is a modern gap rather than the original entrance and the medieval access into the castle is believed to have been by means of a bridge. (Scheduling Report)

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 ReferenceSP380473
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  • Salter, Mike, 1993, Midlands Castles (Birmingham)
  • Salter, Mike, 1992, Castles and Moated Mansions of Warwickshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 43
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 484


  • Dugdale, Wm., 1656, The Antiquities of Warwickshire (Thomas Warren) p. 419-20 online copy


  • Kate Steane, 1989-90, 'Excavations at Ratley Castle 1968-73' Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society Vol. 96 p. 5-26
  • 1974, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 18 p. 196-7 download copy
  • 1973, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 17 p. 163, 165 download copy
  • Radcliffe F., 1973, West Midlands Archaeological news sheet Vol. 16 p. 28
  • Radcliffe F., 1972, West Midlands Archaeological news sheet Vol. 15 p. 29
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1972, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 16 p. 183 download copy
  • Radcliffe F., 1971, West Midlands Archaeological news sheet Vol. 14 p. 32
  • Wilson, D.M. and Hurst, D.G., 1969, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 13 p. 260 online copy
  • Radcliffe F., 1968, West Midlands Archaeological news sheet Vol. 11 p. 29-30
  • Chatwin, P.B., 1947-8, 'Castles in Warwickshire' Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society Vol. 67 p. 9-11


  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 66 online copy