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Historic England Research Records

Clifford Castle

Hob Uid: 104883
Location :
County of Herefordshire
Clifford
Grid Ref : SO2430045600
Summary : The remains of a motte and bailey castle, probably constructed between 1067 and 1070, with additional 13th century fortifications in stone. The motte is 55 metres in diameter and 8 metres in height above the base of the ditches and 5 metres above natural ground level. It is surmounted by a shell keep the walls of which are 2 metres in thickness and 8 metres high. An earthen causeway connects the summit with a large bailey, some 2 acres in area, divided into two parts. Excavations in 1952 and 1953 revealed the outer gatehouse. Scheduled.
More information : (SO 243456) Clifford Castle (NR) (remains of) (NAT) (1)

Clifford Castle was held by the Clifford family in the 13th century. The surviving remains stand on a large motte on the W side of the castle. They form an irregular polygonal court, with a gatehouse towards the NE, a hall on the NW front and round towers at the other three angles. The whole structure may well have been built at the beginning of the 13th century.

The motte, 6ft high above the bottom of a dry ditch, has an outer bailey on the NE and a smaller triangular-shaped court or bailey on the SW (2). (See plan). (2)

Excavations in 1952 and 1953 have revealed the outer gatehouse. (3)

Clifford Castle, a motte and bailey with later stone fortifications, is situated upon a very steep-sided natural spur above the S bank of the River Wye.

The spur has been cut across with two deep ditches, the soil thrown up between them to form a large motte, 55.0m in diameter and 8.0m in height above the base of the ditches and 5.0m above the natural ground level. It is surmounted by a shell keep as described above, the walls of which are up to 2.0m in thickness and approx 8.0m in height. An earthen causeway connects the summit with a large bailey to the E, some 2 acres in area. Only half the bailey was included in the stone defences and the remains of the barbican gate, standing to 2.0m in height, survive in the centre with projecting portions of curtain wall to N and S. The other half of the bailey was enclosed by an earthen rampart of which stretches remain, and below it the sides of the spur have been scarped.

Footings of the curtain wall can also be traced along the W side of the bailey to either side of the causeway and a length of walling, 2.0m thick stands across the motte ditch N of the causeway.

A break in the bank on the E side of the bailey occupied by a modern drive, is probably the site of the original entrance.

Below the S slopes of the motte is a marshy ditch, 75.0m in length, 9.0m in width, 1.0m deep, contained by a retaining bank.

The triangular-shaped tip of the spur W of the motte may have served as a second bailey.

The motte is in good condition though much overgrown. A modern house with gardens, and outbuildings, occupies the bailey.

Published 1:2500 survey revised. See G.Ps. (4)

A castle at Clifford is recorded in Domesday, reputed the work of William Fitz Osbern (suggesting a date of construction between 1067 and 1070), a probable reference either to this site or another at Old Castleton SO 283457 (SO 24 NE 2). Seized by the King from Earl Thomas of Lancaster in 1322, the castle was also provisioned against an attack by [Owain] Glendower in 1403. (5)

SO 243457. Pre-1086 (1067-70?) earth mound. 13th century stone castle with gatehouse and fire round towers. (6)

Foundation reinforcement in timber noted in curtain wall and in cornerbracing of hall. (7)

Additional reference. (8-9)

The motte and bailey of Clifford Castle, was seen as earthworks on aerial photographs and was plotted during the Marches Uplands NMP. (10)

Additonal reference. (11)

This site was mapped as part of the Clifford Castle Environs aerial survey, using lidar images and aerial photographs. As well as the castle earthworks, earthworks of post-medieval orchard ridging were also clearly visible on aerial photographs and lidar images on the bailey. Two shallow round depressions are also visible on aerial photographs close to the edge of the bailey facing the castle (SO 2441 4571 and SO 2441 4570), which appear to overlie the post-medieval ridge earthworks, may be leftover tree throws. (12-13)

As part of the same programme of work reported by Authority 12 the castle earthworks were surveyed and the standing fabric investigated. This followed geophysical survey of the bailey, examination of the standing fabric during consolidation works and some small excavations. The earthwork survey, standing fabric investigation and aerial survey are reported in an HE Research Report. (14)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1964
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : An inventory of the historical monuments in Herefordshire. Volume I: south-west
Source details :
Page(s) : 39-40
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1931
Source Number : 11
Source : A guide to castles and moated sites in Herefordshire
Source details :
Page(s) : 77-80
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : vol.2
Source Number : 12
Source : Light detection and ranging (lidar) airborne survey
Source details : LIDAR DTM Environment Agency SO2445 02-NOV-2006
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : HEA SO 2445/9 18-JAN-2000
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 14
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Clifford Castle HE RRS 69-2018
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club : transactions
Source details : (D Iron)
Page(s) : 27-8,82-4
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 34 - 1952-3
Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 ASP 06-JUL-72
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the islands. Volume I : Anglesey - Montgomery
Source details :
Page(s) : 203,215
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 6
Source : Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club : transactions
Source details : (J W Tonkin)
Page(s) : 31
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 44 - 1982-84
Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Soc of Antiquaries London Occasional Paper (New series) 2 1981 'Timber and Iron Reinforcement in Early Buildings' 28, 31, 32, 33 (R P Wilcox)
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Source Number : 8
Source : Medieval military architecture in England. Volume 1
Source details :
Page(s) : 393-7
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : An inventory of the historical monuments in Herefordshire. Volume I: south-west
Source details :
Page(s) : 234
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1908
Source Number : 10
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR SO2445/1-2 05-JUL-1989
Page(s) :
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date :
Monument End Date : 1070
Monument Start Date : 1067
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : 13th century
Monument End Date : 1299
Monument Start Date : 1200
Monument Type : Shell Keep, Curtain Wall, Angle Tower, Gatehouse, Barbican
Evidence : Building, Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Last documented 1403
Monument End Date : 1403
Monument Start Date : 1403
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Earthwork, Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Post Medieval
Monument End Date : 1901
Monument Start Date : 1540
Monument Type : Orchard, Tree Throw
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : HE 36
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Hereford & Worcestershire)
External Cross Reference Number : 713
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : MORPH2
External Cross Reference Number : MU.53.3
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SO 24 NW 1
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, CLIFFORD CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1951-01-01
End Date : 1953-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SO 24 NW 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1972-07-06
End Date : 1972-07-06
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: MARCHES UPLANDS NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT CLIFFORD CASTLE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2007-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT 'CLIFFORD CASTLE'
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2014-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT CLIFFORD CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2014-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT CLIFFORD CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2017-01-01
End Date : 2017-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT CLIFFORD CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2017-01-01
End Date : 2017-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CLIFFORD CASTLE ENVIRONS AERIAL SURVEY
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2018-01-01
End Date : 2018-12-31