Corfham Castle

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Other/Unknown Motte), and also as a Possible Masonry Castle, and also as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are earthwork remains

NameCorfham Castle
Alternative NamesCortham; Corvesham
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishDiddlebury

The complex moated site known as Corfham Castle survives well and is a good example of its class. The moat platform retains valuable information about the substantial stone building which once stood upon the platform, allowing an understanding of the date of its construction and the nature of its occupation. Similarly the interior of the attached enclosure will retain archaeological evidence relating to the period of its construction and the character of its use. Environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which the moats were built and the economy of the inhabitants will be preserved sealed on the old land surface beneath the moat platform, which stands higher than the surrounding natural ground surface. Similar environmental evidence, possibly including organic material, will be preserved in the fill of the moat ditches and the associated water channels. The site represents a large and important moated complex and such monuments, when considered as single sites or as a part of a larger archaeological landscape, contribute valuable information concerning the settlement pattern, economy and social structure of the countryside during the medieval period.

Corfham Castle includes the remains of a moated house, an associated moated enclosure and a water management system occupying the north end of a low ridge overlooking a shallow coombe to the south west and situated midway between the River Corve to the west and Pye Brook to the east. Near the centre of the monument is a roughly rhomboidal moated platform with internal dimensions of 32m both north to south and east to west. Its level surface stands 2m above the bottom of the surrounding moat and some 0.4m above the level of the surrounding natural ground surface. Visible on the top of the platform are a series of surface irregularities and a scatter of broken masonry. These are the remains of a large rectangular building measuring approximately 24m east to west by 20m transversely

A linear bank of stone rubble 20m long by 5m wide and 1m high marks the east side of the building. Circular hollows at the north west, north east and south east corners of the building probably represent the foundations of three circular towers each with an approximate diameter of 6m. A roughly rectangular quarry hollow flanked by a low bank running south east for 5m from the south west corner of the building may be the site of a rectangular corner tower. Surrounding the platform is a well defined moat varying between 15m and 10m wide, and from 0.4m deep in the south to 1.6m on the north. The south west corner of the moat has been largely infilled but will survive as a buried feature. To the immediate north of the moated platform, adjacent to the north side of the moat is a large rectangular moated enclosure. It lies orientated roughly north east to south west and has internal dimensions of 70m north west to south east by 50m transversely. It is enclosed by a substantial ditch up to 16m wide and 3.5m deep externally and 3m internally. Along the north side of the enclosure there is an inner bank up to 5m wide and 0.9m high. Faint traces of a similarly positioned bank can be recognised along the east and west sides of the enclosure. The original entrance to the enclosure probably lay at its north west angle. However there is some evidence of later alterations in this area, where the enclosure ditch has been partly infilled and the inner rampart removed. A well defined channel runs for some 120m from the south east corner of the enclosure, curving towards the Pye Brook to the east. Though now dry, this leat would originally have supplied water to the moats. A low mound south of this supply leat, orientated roughly east to west and measuring some 30m long by 20m wide and 1.4m high, forms a part of the water control system. Water from the moat system would have discharged from the south end of the west arm of the larger moated enclosure, running westwards to join with the River Corve. All watercourses and both moats are now dry. (Scheduling Report)

Corfham or Cortham Castle, a small stone double moated castle, which is noted in records of 1233 and 1299. There was also a chapel within the castle but now no masonry is visible above ground level. It consists only of a small square area surrounded by a 3ft high rampart with a 9ft scarp, encircled by a moat. On all sides except the south is an outer moat which encloses a bailey to the north. On the south-east the moats are fed by the Pye Brook, which widens to surround a small oval 9ft high mound. The moat takes an eccentric course to the west the purpose of which is obscure. (Hogg and King 1967; TSAHS 1889-90; VCH 1908))

(SO 526850) The extensive earthworks at Corfham which have previously been classified as castle remains, also mark the site of a large extinct village. (Not mentioned by Beresford in Deserted Medieval Villages 1971). (Gaydon and Rowley 1965, 1966)

Corfham Castle is as described, the motte bears traces of undressed stone work, but no watling could be identified. The two moats are fed from the east, although the water courses are now dry. There is no evidence of a Deserted Medieval village in the near vicinity (F1 MHB 08-SEP-71).

Corfham Castle, a moated castle and bailey, is situated between the River Corve and Pye Brook, upon a low ridge-end, above a shallow combe dropping away to the south-west. The site controls Corvedale to the north-east and south-west.

The castle mound measures 50.0m east-west, by 46.0m transversely, and stands to a height of 2.0m above the moat. Upon it are traces of an Edwardian stone built castle, measuring about 30.0m east-west, by 24.0m transversely. At the north-west corner are turf-covered foundations of a round tower, 7.0m in diameter, with traces of the castle west wall running south from it. On the east, is a turf-covered mound of fallen masonry along the line of the castle east wall, 5.5m wide, and 1.0m high. There are suggestions of round towers at the north-east and south-east corners, whilst at the south-west corner, turf-covered walling running south-eastwards for 5.0m from the end of the west wall indicates a larger, rectangular tower, the site of which is marked by a small quarry. There is a general scatter of broken masonry over the site. The moat encircling the castle mound is from 10.0 to 15.0m in width, and in depth is from 0.4m on the south, to 1.5m on the north. The south-west corner of the moat has been ploughed-out.

On the north, is a rectangular bailey, measuring 70.0m east-west, by 50.0m transversely. It is enclosed by a moat 16.0m in width, and in depth 3.5m externally, 3.0m internally. An inner rampart now exists only on the north side, but there are traces of it having existed on the east and west. It is 7.0m wide, and 1.2m high. 55.0m of the moat on the north side have recently been filled in from the north-west corner eastwards, and the rampart destroyed.

The castle moat was filled from a stream diverted from the Pye Brook at a point some 400.0m to the east-north-east. The stream found its own way across a meadow, encircling a low, natural mound in doing so, and entered the widened southern end of the east arm of the bailey moat. The water discharged itself at the southern end of the west arm over a low, natural scarp into a hollow, wherein until recently issued a spring from which water flowed south-westwards down the coombe. All watercourses and the moats are now dry, and under grass (F2 ASP 21-MAR-80). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Scheduled as a moated site, not a castle, and though to date, in its surviving form, to the time of Edward I. Recorded as a castle by D.J.C. King and possibly called a castle in Gerald of Canterbury's Mappa Mundi. A small mound in the earthworks is called a motte by some writers but is a natural mound, not adapted as a motte. However, the form of the site may well suggest a start as a motte and bailey with the a low building platform type motte adapted for a square enclosure type castle and the bailey squared up to form a square moat. Included in King's list of early castles, apparently on the bases of the reference in the Mappa Mundi,_ although this dates to the mid C13. Although now seemingly isolated was the site of a Saxon manor, the caput of the two hundreds of Culverstan and Patinton and a large village so an early castle here is entirely probable. However it should be noted there is no actual archaeological evidence for a castle here before 1233 when the first historical evidence for a castle occurs.

- 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 ReferenceSO525850
Latitude52.4608917236328
Longitude-2.70034003257751
Eastings352500
Northings285000
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Duckers, Peter and Anne, 2006, Castles of Shropshire (Stroud: Tempus) p. 66-8
  • Salter, Mike, 2001 (2edn), The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 40
  • 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. 21-2
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 424
  • Rowley, Trevor, 1972, The Shropshire Landscape (Hodder and Stoughton) p. 87-88
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 134
  • 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. 406-7
  • Eyton, R.W., 1857, Antiquities of Shropshire (London: John Russell Smith) Vol. 5 p. 145- (tenurial history) online copy

Antiquarian

  • 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

Journals

  • 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
  • 1966, Shropshire Archaeological Society newsletter Vol. 30 p. 2-3
  • Gaydon, A.T. and Rowley, R.T., 1965, Shropshire Archaeological Society newsletter Vol. 28 p. 2
  • 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)
  • 1929-30, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 45 p. 11
  • 1892, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 4 p. 299-300
  • 1889-90, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 13 p. 15-16

Primary Sources

  • 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
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1905, Calendar of Close Rolls Henry III (1231-34) Vol. 2 p. 267 view online copy (requires subscription but searchable) [alternative online copy > http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/u?/FHMedieval2,83310]
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1911 Calendar of Fine Rolls Edward I (1272-1307) p. 422 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. 413

Other

  • English Heritage, 1995, Scheduling Papers (Revision, 26/07/1995)
  • Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, 1983, Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 13509