Upper Slaughter Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameUpper Slaughter Castle
Alternative NamesHome Farm
Historic CountryGloucestershire
Modern AuthorityGloucestershire
1974 AuthorityGloucestershire
Civil ParishUpper Slaughter

The castle was built with a flat-topped mound, of which the top seven feet were made-up soil, above an irregular bailey from which the ground dropped to the Slaughter Brook on the north and to a moat on the east. Excavation in the moat has produced 12th and 13th century potsherds and the castle, which is not in a commanding position, was probably built for local defence and was used only for a short period (VCH).

A low motte within an oval bailey. A chamber was found 30ft down the stone-lined well in the 19th cent and 12th cent pottery in 1963 when the road bisecting the site was widened (Renn).

This mound is a maximum of 2.7m high and has a roughly square flat top, 22.0m across, with two depressions in it, one of which is the well, the other presumably representing a building or excavation. The west and south sides of the mound have been partly levelled by the adjacent farm complex. Of the bailey and moat only a 90.0m length of a scarp above the stream on the north and west and a levelled platform between this and the mound can be clearly identified. It may be conjectured that the outline of the bailey is defined by the roughly circular modern building alignment though this could only be proven to excavation. A broad bank from SP 15662326 to SP 15652322, to the east of the motte, could be associated though its purpose is obscure.

SP 1555 2327. A watching brief during construction work at Home Farm revealed the ditch around the western side of the motte. The ditch, 8m wide and up to 4m deep, had been partly backfilled with material probably from the mound, and containing several large blocks of worked masonry. Residual 12th Century pottery was recovered in association with several modern features and a possible medieval pit. An unstratified La Tene III bow brooch of Claudio-Neronian date was also found (Willis 1990)

(PastScape)

The castle was built with a flat-topped mound, of which the top seven feet were made-up soil, above an irregular bailey from which the ground dropped to the Slaughter brook on the north and to a moat on the east. Excavation in the moat has produced 12th- and 13th-century potsherds, and it is likely that the castle, which is not in a commanding position, was built for purely local defence, and was used only for a short period. Any possibility that the king's sergeant in Slaughter in 1190 and 1239 was connected with it is made remote by the complete absence from the Pipe Rolls of the late 12th century and early 13th of any reference to a castle or defensive works in Slaughter. The sergeant was presumably connected with the royal manor in Lower Slaughter, and the prison, which would certainly have been part of any royal castle, was in Lower Slaughter.

The castle mound is on a bend in the Slaughter brook, and on the shoulder by which it is connected to the hillside behind stands the church (apparently older than the castle), with the village straddling the shoulder. (VCH)

Gatehouse Comments

Moving away from a purely military interpretation of the castle, assumed in the VCH this would seem to be the early manor house of Upper Slaughter in a typical position, beside the church. The manor seems to have been held by Roger de Lacy in 1086, when it was a single demense farm although it was later split up into several estates. Did the de Lacy's plan or have a residence here or was there a sub-tentant of knightly status? The listed C17 house on perimeter of motte presumably represents the continued use of the site as the residence and offices of the manor.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSP156232
Latitude51.9077110290527
Longitude-1.7744699716568
Eastings415600
Northings223240
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Gloucestershire and Bristol (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 39
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 82 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 183
  • Verey, David, 1979, Buildings of England: Gloucestershire: the Cotswolds p. 464
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 336
  • Elrington, C.R. (ed), 1965, VCH Gloucestershire Vol. 6 p. 134-5 online transcription
  • Witts, G.B., 1883, Archaeological handbook of the county of Gloucester, being an explanatory description of the Archaeological map of Gloucestershire p. 51-2, No 105

Journals

  • Walker, D., 1991, 'Gloucestershire Castles' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 109 p. 15 online copy
  • Wills, J., 1990, 'Archaeological Review No 14, 1989' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 108 p. 198 online copy
  • Rawes, B., 1977, 'A Check List of Castles and other Fortified Sites of Medieval Date in Gloucestershire' Glevensis Vol. 11 p. 39-41 online copy
  • O'Neil, 1962-3, Proceedings of the Cotteswold Naturalists Field Club Vol. 34 p. 32-6
  • Navarro, 1913, Country Life p. 459
  • 1895-7, 'Transactions at the Annual Summer Meeting At Stow-On-The-Wold' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 20 p. 346-7 online copy