More Castle

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

There are earthwork remains

NameMore Castle
Alternative NamesMoretoin
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishMore

The motte and bailey castle at More is a well-preserved example of this class of monument, incorporating the remains of an earlier ringwork castle. The site therefore provides significant evidence for the changing design and functional roles of castles in this area during the early Middle Ages. The small-scale archaeological excavation has helped to demonstrate the nature, extent and the date of the structural remains existing here. These buildings, together with the associated artefacts and organic remains, will provide valuable evidence about the activities and lifestyle of the inhabitants. Documentary references provide valuable information about the status of its occupants and the strategic importance of the castle during the early Middle Ages. The close proximity of the motte and bailey castle at Lydham would suggest that both these castles were associated in some way.

The importance of the castle at More is further enhanced by its direct association with the adjacent medieval settlement. Despite modification of parts of this area from later cultivation, extensive structural remains are expected to survive. The buildings, the associated artefacts and the organic remains will, in relation to those at the castle, provide considerable evidence for the economic basis and the organisation and social structure of the medieval community at More.

The use of this area for cultivation in the later Middle Ages, following the abandonment of the castle and the part of the settlement immediately adjacent to it, demonstrates the changing nature of land holding patterns and the economic needs of the community at this time.

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte and bailey castle, partly formed from an earlier ringwork castle, the associated remains of a medieval village and ridge and furrow cultivation, situated on a tongue of land which extends into a lower lying former marshy area from the slightly higher ground to the east

At the western end of this peninsula is the site of the castle. It lies 600m north east of the motte and bailey castle at Lydham, which is the subject of a separate scheduling.

Documentary evidence indicates that More orginally lay within the manor of Lydham, and that in the 12th century, probably during the reign of Henry I (1100-1135), it became a separate manor. During Henry's reign it is also recorded that the Lord of More, a constable of the king's army, was required to command 200 foot soldiers, while carrying the royal standard, whenever the king crossed into Wales in time of war. A document of 1215 mentions a castle at Moretoin, which is thought to refer to the castle at More, and in 1368 a licence was granted to Hugh Cheney allowing him to celebrate Mass in the oratory (private chapel) at his mansion house here.

A small-scale archaeological excavation undertaken in 1959 demonstrated that the castle was initially a ringwork, a circular area occupied by buildings, surrounded by a bank and an external ditch, probably constructed in the late 11th century. A little later, probably early in the 12th century, the enclosed circular area was filled in and heightened to form the motte. This flat-topped mound measures approximately 34m at its base and 21m across the top, and stands up to 2.1m high. It is surrounded by a shallow ditch about 8m wide, which is wet in places, and by an external bank up to 7m wide and 0.6m high. Access onto the motte is via a 5m wide causeway, which crosses the south eastern part of the ditch.

To the north east of the motte, running the length of the peninsula, lie a succession of banked and ditched enclosures. The two principal rectangular enclosures nearest the motte are the inner and outer baileys to the castle. The internal area of inner bailey (the one closest to the motte) is approximately 0.4ha and the internal area of outer bailey is about 0.6ha. The ditches which define the baileys are partially waterlogged, while in other places they have been largely infilled. Material excavated from the ditches was used to create internal banks, which survive most notably as earthworks at the south western and north eastern parts of the outer bailey.

The ditch separating the baileys was bridged by a causeway, about 7m wide. Within the inner bailey, levelled and raised areas indicate the positions of former buildings, partly cut by later drainage ditches. Blocks of stone from demolished and collapsed buildings lie embedded in the ground. In 1959 the remains of at least one substantial stone-built structure was uncovered, together with sherds of pottery.

To the north east of the causeway, which crosses the ditch between the two baileys, are the remains of a former access road to the castle. It crosses the outer bailey and continues as a hollow way firstly in a north easterly direction and then in a northerly direction for about 220m where it joins the modern road. The hollow way was created by the volume of the passing taffic, and is defined by earthen banks between 3m and 5m wide and up to 0.4m high. Part of the south eastern side of the hollow way has been cut by a later drainage ditch. The bank that delimits this side of the hollow way also defines one edge of a sub-rectangular enclosure, approximately 0.6ha internally, which lies immediately north east of the outer bailey. This enclosure was a toft forming part of the medieval village of More. A toft contained a series of crofts (peasant houses with yards and gardens) and associated paddocks.

The village was a nucleated settlement, with the present hamlet centred around the Church of St Peter. The church dates to the 13th century, altered in 1640, and was rebuilt and extended in the 19th century. The present settlement also consists of several timber-framed farmhouses of 16th and 17th century date, together with other domestic and agricultural buildings of later date. These buildings are not included in the scheduling. Much of the peninsula to the west of the present hamlet, including parts of the castle and the medieval settlement remains, are overlain with ridge and furrow indicating that when the area ceased to be occupied it was taken into arable cultivation. This has led to the partial modifition of the castle and village earthworks. The north western extent of this field system is marked by a very long-established field boundary, the northern end of which runs over the northern part of the bank defining the former hollow way. This field boundary is included in the scheduling to preserve the relationship between it, the bank alongside the road, and the ridge and furrow cultivation remains. (Scheduling Report)

Excavations by B Hope Taylor revealed some form of ring work predating the motte and at least one substantial stone building in the inner bailey. Dateable pottery was found. (Shropshire SMR record)

Gatehouse Comments

The manor was held by the service of grand serjeantry of the most military type being captain of 200 foot troops and bearer of the Royal Standard. It is, therefore, hardly surprising the manor house was marked with the full military symbolism of motte and bailey. Possibly the castle of Moretoin mentioned in 1215.

- 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 ReferenceSO339914
Latitude52.5165481567383
Longitude-2.97486996650696
Eastings333940
Northings291400
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Philip Davis. 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
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. 114-6
  • Salter, Mike, 2001 (2edn), The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 59
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 219 (slight)
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 232-3
  • Jackson, M.J.,1988, Castles of Shropshire (Shrewsbury: Shropshire Libraries) p. 39-40
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 427
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 240, 249
  • Wall (after Downham), 1908, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Shropshire Vol. 1 p. 397 (plan)
  • Eyton, R.W., 1860, Antiquities of Shropshire (London: John Russell Smith) Vol. 11 p. 283- (tenurial history) online copy

Journals

  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • 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
  • Hope-Taylor, B., 1960, Antiquity Vol. 34 p. 229
  • Webster, G., 1959, West Midlands annual Archaeological news sheet Vol. 2 p. 7

Other

  • English Heritage, 2001, Scheduling Papers (Revision, 09/04/2001)
  • Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, 1986, Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 20792