Hockleton Motte

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameHockleton Motte
Alternative NamesTirley; Touchill; Hoketon; Hokelton
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishChirbury With Brompton

The motte and bailey castle south east of Hockleton Farm survives well and is a good example of its class. It will retain valuable archaeological information relating to its construction, date and the character of its occupation. Environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which it was constructed will be preserved sealed on the old land surface beneath the motte and in the fill of the buried ditches. Such motte and bailey castles when considered either as single sites or as a part of the wider medieval landscape contribute valuable information concerning the settlement pattern, economy and social organisation of the countryside during the medieval period. The proximity of the bridge to the north of the castle, at a possible early fording place, is of additional interest as the castle was probably built to control the river crossing.

The monument includes the remains of a motte and bailey castle situated on the north end of a ridge on the west bank of a steep sided gorge through which the River Camlad flows, north of Chirbury. The castle was sited to control a river crossing some 200m north of the castle. It includes a well defined castle mound, or motte, circular in plan with a base diameter of 25m rising 4m to a flat summit 6m in diameter. Attached to the north side of the motte are the remains of a roughly triangular bailey enclosure, within which the domestic buildings associated with the castle would have been protected. It has maximum internal dimensions of 40m east to west by 30m north to south and is bounded around its west, north and east sides by a scarp averaging 2m high which curves inwards in the south, towards the motte, which here forms the south side of the enclosure. The bailey scarp is interrupted at its northern corner by an original entrance gap 6m wide. Although no longer visible as a surface feature an outer ditch with an estimated width of 4m will surround the exterior of the motte and bailey

(Scheduling Report)

Hockleton SO 275999. A very small motte and bailey, neither of which are well preserved. Lying astride a ridge to the west of the river with the bailey on the north and the motte to the south. The bailey is badly worn but to the west a scarp about 7 feet high survives. There is no trace of either bank or ditch. The motte is 12 to 16 feet above the bailey and to the south there is a ditch now only 2 feet deep. The present diameter of the top is about 14 feet but since this is the result of erosion and earth-spread, the original diameter must have been between 25-30 feet (King and Spurgeon 1965).

Small motte and bailey, situated as described above, within a pasture field. The much-eroded motte has a base diameter of 24.0m, and a height of 4.5m. The summit is now less than 3.0m in diameter. To the N are the ploughed down and spread remains of a bailey, 35.0m across. It is bounded by a scarp which reaches 2.2m in height on the W side, but is no more than 0.3m high on the E side, whilst the N side has been completely eroded down by an old farm track. The ditch on the S side of the motte is an old field boundary ditch which continues to the NE beyond the site (F1 ASP 13-MAR-73). (PastScape)

During a magnetometer survey it was found that a curvilinear positive anomaly surrounds the motte and is likely to represent a former ditch. The most magnetically enhanced parts of the anomaly lie to the north and north east of the motte, and it is possible that this is related to increased human activity immediately adjacent. The anomaly does not clearly join to form a single feature although it is possible that the magnetic response is not representative of the true shape. A discrete bipolar anomaly was located close to the top of the motte and this may represent an area of intense burning. Other short positive linear anomalies were located within, and immediately adjacent to, the bailey earthworks with some more discrete positive anomalies on the northern side of the motte. These anomalies have been classified as of archaeological potential although it is uncertain as to whether they have been caused by magnetically enhanced soils within cut features or the creation of earth banks. Several discrete positive anomalies were located across the area and these may indicate former pit-like features. Magnetic debris to the south of the motte represents magnetically remnant material. Although a modern origin is likely, it could be the result of industrial activity and/or areas of intense burning and therefore may be archaeologically significant (Magnetometer Survey 2010).

In February 2010 archaeological trial trenches were carried in connection with proposals to create a new farm track around the edge of a motte and bailey castle, and to carry out repairs to erosion to the castle earthworks. Much of the fabric of the motte, which is exposed in erosion scars, appears to comprise a mixture of gravel derived from this shale and the clay subsoil. A slight holloway runs from the northwestern corner of the field up through the castle bailey to the southern part of the field.

The evaluation elsewhere has demonstrated the potential and actual survival of below-ground medieval features within the study area, possibly associated with the motte and bailey castle or with the settlement at Hockleton, including a pit/ditch which produced 3 conjoining sherds of medieval pottery of 12th -14th century date and a radiocarbon date from charcoal in its fill of mid to late 14th century date. The late date of these finds possibly relates to the abandoment or clearence of the motte and bailey site rather than its use. No significant archaeological features were identified in the trial trenches C and D to the southeast and south of the castle (Hannaford 2010). (Shropshire HER)

Gatehouse Comments

Maybe a castle built on a virgin site as Eyton states Hokelton was 'waste and unappropriated at Domesday'. It is one of several places named in association with the castrum Muntgumeri all of which may well be sites of residences of knights or sergeants owing military service at Montgomery Castle. Seems to have been held for tenure of a half a knight's fee recorded in 1255 as being 'three weeks guard at Montgomery Castle in wartime, and doing suit to Chirbury Hundred throughout the year, and going to hunt thrice yearly with the Lords of Montgomery.' This is a small but substantial motte and bailey and it may be, in this area of waste the risk from raids and criminals was particularly high and the defenses here were more than symbolic. Gatehouse does not share the opinion that the castle 'controlled' the nearby crossing of the Camlad, a small stream that, even given the reduced flow of modern waterways, would have been readily fordable by horsemen along much of its length.

- 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 ReferenceSO274999
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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

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  • Salter, Mike, 2001 (2edn), The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 87 (slight)
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 199, 200, 218, 219 (plan, air photo)
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  • Eyton, R.W., 1860, Antiquities of Shropshire (London: John Russell Smith) Vol. 11 p. 159- (tenurial history) online copy


  • King, D.J.C. and Spurgeon, C.J., 1965, 'The mottes in the Vale of Montgomery' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 114 p. 75, 77 (plan)
  • 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
  • Chitty, Lily, 1949, 'Subsidiary Castle Sites West of Shrewsbury' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society Vol. 53 p. 83-90


  • Hannaford, Hugh R., 2010, An Archaeological Evaluation at Hockleton Farm, Shropshire (SCAS Report 276) online copy
  • Sabin, D. and Donaldson, K., 2010, Hockleton Motte, Chirbury, Shropshire: Magnetometer Survey (Archaeological Survey Report Series 313)
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 33 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 43 online copy
  • Wigley, A., 2009a, Management Plan for Mr & Mrs Lewis, Hockleton Farm. Mon. No. 19227 - Motte and bailey castle 80m south east of Hockleton Farm, Shropshire Council
  • Wigley, A., 2009b, Brief for Phase 1 of a programme of archaeological work on land at Hockleton Farm, Chirbury, Shropshire, Shropshire Council
  • English Heritage, 1995, Scheduling Papers (Revision, 22/11/1995)
  • Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, 1985, Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 18100