Seckington Motte

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameSeckington Motte
Alternative NamesSekindon
Historic CountryWarwickshire
Modern AuthorityWarwickshire
1974 AuthorityWarwickshire
Civil ParishSeckington

Perfect little earthwork of the moated mount and court type (eg motte and bailey) in an excellent high position. The mound is conical: 9 M high, 43/46 M diam at base and 15.2 M diam at top. Encircling the mound is a ditch 9 M wide and 3.5 M deep. A courtyard lies to the S and SE defended by a ditch with a rampart on the inner side. rampart and ditch increase in size towards the mount itself. An entrance at SE is possibly original. To the N and E traces of a long rampart and ditch can be seen with water in part of the latter. No sign of masonry; the site therefore probably fell early into disuse. Constructed early C11 by Earl of Mellant or his son Robert Earl of Leicester. Remains of a ramp on SW facing slope of the motte. Slight infill at W junction of motte ditch and bailey ditch. (Warwickshire HER)

Seckington survives well and is a good example of a motte and bailey castle. Important structural and artefactual information will exist beneath the ground surface within the castle providing evidence for the economy of the castle's inhabitants. The short period of occupancy and early abandonment of the site will ensure that early archaeological deposits have not been greatly disturbed by later buildings on the site. The motte and bailey castle also has a valuable 17th century description, by the historian Sir William Dugdale which allows a study of the changes to the site over the last 300 years.

The monument includes the motte and bailey castle and an area of ridge and furrow cultivation. It is situated on the northern outskirts of the village of Seckington and is 90m NW of All Saints' Church. The motte and bailey castle is set in a dominant position on the highest part of the slight ridge on which the village is situated. The motte is located at the NE edge of the bailey and has been artificially raised. The flat-topped motte is 9m high and measures 15m across its summit

It has a diameter of approximately 45m at its base and is surrounded by a 20m wide ditch. The ditch is up to 2m deep. The SW section of the motte ditch has been partly infilled, but it will survive as a buried feature beneath the ground surface. The southern section of this ditch separates the motte from the bailey. The bailey is crescent-shaped and contains an area of approximately 0.25ha. It is defended by a 10m wide ditch around the west, south and east sides. The western section of the bailey ditch has been partly infilled. There is an earthen bank along the inner edge of the ditch which is best preserved at the eastern edge of the bailey. The bank in the south western sector is less pronounced and is thought to have been levelled. Access to the motte and bailey is currently by means of a causeway at the SE edge of the bailey and this may mark the site of the original entrance. During the 17th century, the historian, Sir William Dugdale, described the motte and bailey castle in great detail, including its dimensions at this time. This documentation has provided an important insight into the changes to the site over the last 300 years. To the south, east and north of the motte and bailey castle are the earthwork remains of ridge and furrow cultivation. Aerial photographs indicate that the motte and bailey appears to overlie the ridge and furrow illustrating the impact of the castle on the land use of the surrounding area. A sample area, 10m wide, of ridge and furrow to the north, south and east of the castle is included within the scheduling in order to preserve this relationship. There is also evidence of ridge and furrow cultivation within the bailey itself. The motte and bailey castle is considered to have been built during the late 11th century by either the Earl of Meulan or his son, Robert, Earl of Leicester. The castle passed to Robert's son after his death, but the family had no further use for it and, in c.1170, the castle was sold to William de Campville. (Scheduling Report)

Scarce a furlong from the Church, Northwards, & upon an ascending ground, is yet to be seen a notable Fort, made after a circular forme; the dimensions whereof (though much lesse than what they were at first, by reason that the Earth is so shrunk down) are yet, as followeth; The breath of the outer Ditch, at the top xx. foot, and at the bottom x. foot. The depth of it xii. foot. The diameter within the bank CCXCvii. foot. On the North-side of it (opposite to the entrance) there is a round Hill, artificially raised, of Xlii. foot in height, which at the top is xxiii. foot in breath; and whereupon, as it should seem, some Watch-Tower hath formerly stood. By the Countrey people, it bears the name of a Castle; whose tradition is, that it was antiently the Burdets, and pulled down in King Hen. 2. time, by William Burdet, for the structure of that little Monasterie at Aucote (hard by) which, as they report, he founded, to expiate the murther of his wife: But having not seen, that the Burdets were so long since possest of this Lordship, I somewhat doubt the truth thereof. (Dugdale)

Gatehouse Comments

This really is a very good example of a motte and bailey. Hopefully the trees on the earthworks will not be allowed to become too dense and obscure this fine site.

- 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 ReferenceSK259075
Latitude52.6651496887207
Longitude-1.61839997768402
Eastings425920
Northings307530
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Trevor Rickard and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Trevor Rickard and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Trevor Rickard and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Angella Streluk and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

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Books

  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 261
  • Salter, Mike, 1993, Midlands Castles (Birmingham) p. 67
  • Bond E., 1993, A Survey of the Parish of Seckington
  • Salter, Mike, 1992, Castles and Moated Mansions of Warwickshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 43
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 484
  • Salzman, L.F. (ed), 1947, VCH Warwickshire Vol. 4 p. 198 online transcription
  • Willoughby Gardner, 1904, 'Ancient Defensive Earthworks' in Doubleday, H.A. and Page, Wm (eds), VCH Warwickshire Vol. 1 p. 390-2 (plan) online copy
  • Timmins, S., 1889, Popular County Histories: A history of Warwickshire (London: Elliot Stock) p. 4, 61 online copy

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Chatwin, P.B., 1947-8, 'Castles in Warwickshire' Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society Vol. 67 p. 7-8
  • 1900, Birmingham and Midlands Institute Archaeology Section p. 89
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 213 online copy
  • Clark G.T., 1882, 'The moated mound at Sekington' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 39 p. 372-5 (plan) online copy
  • Burgess, J.T., 1873, 'Ancient British Remains and Earthworks in the Forest of Arden' Journal of the British Archaeological Association p. 39, 43 online copy
  • Burgess, 1872, Birmingham and Midlands Institute Archaeology Section p. 88 and plate

Other

  • Baker, H.D., 1987, Warwickshire Monument Evaluation and Presentation Project