Pan Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NamePan Castle
Alternative Names
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishWhitchurch Urban

The motte and bailey castle known as Pan Castle is a well-preserved example of this class of monument. The small-scale excavation has demonstrated that extensive buried remains of structures that stood on the motte and within the bailey can be expected to survive. Buried structures, together with associated artefacts and organic remains, will provide valuable evidence about the activities and lifestyles of those who inhabited the site. In addition, organic remains preserved in the buried ground surfaces beneath the motte, the external bank and the bailey rampart, and deposited within the ditches, will provide information about the local environment and the use of the land prior to and following the construction of the motte and bailey castle. The importance of the castle is enhanced by its proximity to, and contemporary association with, the nearby medieval settlement at Whitchurch.

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte and bailey castle, occupying a low-lying position in an area of undulating and formerly marshy land. From this location there are extensive views to the east and north east, including the nearby town of Whitchurch where an early medieval castle is also known to have been built. The oval, steep-sided, flat-topped motte measures approximately 62m by 78m at its base and 47m by 60m across the top and stands to a height of 4.5m. It is surrounded by a waterlogged ditch, between 7m and 15m wide, and a large outer bank, averaging 17m wide and up to 1.2m high. Within the northern part of the ditch is a causeway. As part of a small-scale archaeological investigation conducted in 1916 this causeway was partly excavated and the remains of a bridge were found. Occupying the sloping ground to the south of the motte is a large parallelogram-shaped bailey. The earthwork defences enclose an area of nearly 2ha

It is defined on the western and southern sides by a rampart between 7m and 13m wide, and standing up to 1.5m high, with an external ditch averaging 14m wide which retains water. To the east the bailey is defined by a scarp up to 1m high. The adjacent external ditch has been infilled and is no longer visible at ground level, but will survive as a buried feature about 12m wide. The northern side is bounded by a natural depression where the slopes appear to have been deliberately accentuated in places. Across this depression a raised causeway has been constructed, which probably connected to a bridge providing access to the motte. On the western side of the bailey, about the mid-point, there is a break in the defences, which has been enlarged in modern times but may represent the site of an original entranceway into the bailey. The causeway across the south west corner of the defences is entirely modern. (Scheduling Report)

An irregularly shaped mound with a near rectangular bailey. The motte is sited on low-lying ground which but for drainage would be waterlogged . The bailey slopes down from W to E and the defences are markedly stronger on the west. It seems probable that marsh or water was part of the defence on the east (OS FI 1962)

Motte has base diameter of 65m N/S and 80m E/W and a height of 3.8m . The flat summit is 45.m N/S and 60m E/W. The encircling ditch is 10m to 15m wide and 1m to 1.5m deep and there is a counterscarp on the N and W sides, 1.7m in height. The rectangular bailey on the S measures 170m E/W by 140m transversely. On the W and S sides it is enclosed by an earthen rampart, up to 15m in width and 20m in height with an outer ditch, average width 9.0m, and up to 1.9m in depth. On the N and E sides there are fragments of an outward facing scarp, 2m in width, 0.5m in height. The site of the original entrance is not known. A causewayed entrance on the W is modern. A rectangular depression within the SE corner of the bailey measuring 18m by 8m and 0.7m deep was possibly a fishpond. No visible remains of masonry (OS FI 1976) (OS record card).

In 1916 E Thompson wrote that About a dozen soldiers have been digging the last three days at Pan Castle. The remains of a bridge were found in the moat where the entrance seems to have been, but nothing beyond the bones of modern beasts, some old shaped clay pipes, and modern pottery scraps have come to light. At the top of the mound, in the centre, a large hole has been dug some 10ft deep, but beyond stiff clay nothing has shown any hope of going deeper. They are digging a trench at the corner of the outer earthwork today, and failing that I do not see any object in going on...I propose filling it all up on Monday (Thompson E. 1916. Correspondence)

The castle in good condition. ...There is a little erosion on the east side of the motte and a rake or machine appears to have gone up the entrance and along the counterscarp bank on the north side. There is a large quarry scoop west of the motte and a rectangular ditched feature immediately north of that... (Horton Wendy B. 1991. Site Visit Form).

Pan Castle is recorded as having been located 'at Dodington'. The location of this massive earthwork so far from the present Dodington (part of Whitchurch) strongly suggests that the original core of Dodington was several kilometres from the street that now bears its name. (Shropshire HER)

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 ReferenceSJ526404
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  • Duckers, Peter and Anne, 2006, Castles of Shropshire (Stroud: Tempus) p. 125
  • Salter, Mike, 2001 (2edn), The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 83
  • 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. 62
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 432 (Whitchurch No. 2)
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker)
  • Wall (after Downham), 1908, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Shropshire Vol. 1 p. 400-1 (plan)
  • Eyton, R.W., 1859, Antiquities of Shropshire (London: John Russell Smith) Vol. 9 p. 194- (tenurial history of Dodington) online copy


  • 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
  • Forrest, H.E., 1916 Nov 24, 'Shropshire Notes and Queries' Oswestry Chronicle
  • Godsal, 1914, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 69 p. 464-6
  • Eyton, R.W., 1887, 'The castles of Shropshire' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 10 p. 27-8


  • English Heritage, 2001, Scheduling Papers (Revision, 18/09/2001)
  • Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, 1985, Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 16193
  • Shrewsbury Local Studies Library - Whitchurch envelope H61