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Historic England Research Records

Oakham Castle

Hob Uid: 323228
Location :
Rutland
Oakham
Grid Ref : SK8610008800
Summary : Oakham Castle occupies a central position in the town of Oakham. The castle complex comprises a standing great hall and the remains of a motte inside a square inner bailey. To the north of this is a large rectangular outer bailey known as Cutts Close which contains dry fishponds and garden earthworks. The inner castle bailey measures 140 x 140 metres in overall dimensions. The great hall is situated close to its western boundary, and consists of an aisled building built of ironstone rubble. The inner bailey is delimited by a curtain wall dating to the 13th century. On the inside, a bank, consisting of grassed-over collapsed stone rubble, slopes up to the wall and the remains of two towers or bastions can be identified on the western side. In the south east corner is the castle motte and stands to a height of about 6 metres. The ground surface of the bailey is uneven signifying the foundations of buildings. The gateway on the south side is still in use, although it has been rebuilt many times. To the north, the outer bailey contains earthworks of gardens and fishponds which are mentioned in 14th century documents. The hall of Oakham Castle is listed in the Domesday book. The stone-built hall which survives today was built by Walkelin de Ferrers between 1180 and 1190. The great hall is a grade I listed building and is excluded from the schedule. A Second World War gun emplacement at the north east corner of Cutts Close and a 19th century garden folly in the eastern wall of the castle are both included in the scheduling. The great hall is now in use as the magistrates court. The site has been excavated.
More information : [SK 861088] The Castle [NAT] on remains of Castle [NR] (1)

The earliest castle at Oakham consisted of a motte at the SE corner of a sub-circular bailey. The motte has been largely cut away, but part of the mound and the hollow of the ditch towards the bailey remain. The bailey is enclosed with a substantial earth bank and ditch, the latter widened on the north side to form fish ponds. Beyond these ponds is an outer court, also
enclosed with a bank and ditch. The motte and bailey probably dates from soon after 1075 when Oakham reverted to the crown on the death of its previous owner Edith, widow of Edward the Confessor. The straight eastern side of the bailey and the plan of the northern enclosure show that the latter is earlier, and that it formed part of a rectangular fortification, which certainly included the church and probably extended south as far as the cross street at the end of the markets. This can only have been a late Saxon burgh. The castle bailey was later strengthened with a stone curtain, now entirely ruined. The gateway is 13th. cent. restored in the 17th. cent. The simple layout of the curtain wall and lack of flanking towers suggests it is earlier than the gateway, probably the work of Wakelin de Ferrers who built the Great Hall. The aisled hall is one of the finest surviving Norman domestic buildings in the country. The architecture suggests a date in the last quarter of the 12th. Pevsner describes it as a fortified manor house rather than a castle and dates it c.1180-90. It formed the centre of a group of buildings of which slight traces remain in the inequalities of the ground at either end. (2,3)

Excavations on the earthworks in 1953-4 tended to confirm the date 1075 to c.1100 for the motte and bailey. Finds included Stamford and St. Neots pottery and a limestone head of c.1250 thought to have come from the hall. (4)

As described by authorities 2 and 3. See GP's of Oakham Hall.
Surveyed at 1/2500. (5)

There are extant remains of the motte, inner bailey and curtain wall with the Norman hall in use as the County magistrates Court. The outer bailey (suggested by Radford as being adopted for later fishponds) is mainly entire; the fishpond theory cannot be agreed with the topographical situation, strength, dimensions and appearance of the earthwork suggesting a later utilisation as a tournament field rather than a pond. There is nothing on the ground to confirm the existence of a Saxon
burgh; the existing earthworks seem to be complete within themselves - modern excavation for building on the suggested line shows no evidence of a linear work hereabouts.
Published survey (1:2500) correct. See photographs. (6)

SK 8619 0894. Oakham motte and bailey castle and medieval gardens. The inner bailey measures approximately 140 x 140m overall and is delimited by a C13th curtain wall. On the inside, a bank, consisting of grassed-over collapsed stone and rubble, slopes up to the wall and the remains of two towers or bastions can be identified on the western side. In the south-east corner is the motte standing to a height of about 6m with a surrounding ditch up to 1m deep and 8-10m wide. The ground surface of the bailey is uneven, signifying foundations of buildings. The gateway on the south side is still in use although it has been rebuilt. To the north, the outer bailey known as Cutts Close contains earthworks of gardens and fishponds which are mentioned in 14th century documents. A substantial bank, up to 2m high, surrounds the perimeter of the outer bailey and also forms the fishponds.
The stone-built great hall, not included in the scheduling, was built between 1180-1190.

In 1989 an archaeological evaluation of Cutts Close indicated that the south-west bank was pre-Norman. A Second World War gun emplacement at the north-east corner of Cutts Close and a 19th century garden folly in the eastern wall of the castle are both included in the scheduling.
Scheduled (RSM) No. 17018. (7)

Additional reference. (8)

Listed by Cathcart King and Colvin. (9,10)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1958
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details :
Page(s) : 181-4
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 112, 1955
Source Number : 3
Source : Leicestershire and Rutland
Source details :
Page(s) : 315-7
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society
Source details :
Page(s) : 17-38
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 34, 1958
Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : 26/10/1961
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : 02/03/1972
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 31/01/1992
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Rutland 24/11/1971
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Volume II : Norfolk-Yorkshire and the islands
Source details :
Page(s) : 417-8
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2
Source Number : 10
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 2 : the Middle Ages
Source details :
Page(s) : 765-6
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : 1075-1100
Monument End Date : 1100
Monument Start Date : 1075
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built 1180-90
Monument End Date : 1190
Monument Start Date : 1180
Monument Type : Great Hall, Aisled Building
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : C13
Monument End Date : 1299
Monument Start Date : 1200
Monument Type : Curtain Wall, Bastion, Interval Tower, Angle Tower, Castle
Evidence : Structure, Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Mentioned in C14 documents
Monument End Date : 1399
Monument Start Date : 1300
Monument Type : Garden, Fishpond, Tiltyard
Evidence : Earthwork, Conjectural Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : 1402-1460
Monument End Date : 1460
Monument Start Date : 1402
Monument Type : Gate
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Restored C17
Monument End Date : 1699
Monument Start Date : 1600
Monument Type : Gate
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : C19
Monument End Date : 1900
Monument Start Date : 1801
Monument Type : Folly
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : C20
Monument End Date : 1999
Monument Start Date : 1900
Monument Type : Magistrates Court
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : World War II
Monument End Date : 1945
Monument Start Date : 1939
Monument Type : Gun Emplacement
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : LE 168
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Leicestershire)
External Cross Reference Number : 80NE D
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 186494
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 186495
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 17018
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : RT 1
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SK 80 NE 1
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, OAKHAM CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1954-01-01
End Date : 1954-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OAKHAM CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1956-01-01
End Date : 1958-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SK 80 NE 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1961-10-26
End Date : 1961-10-26
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SK 80 NE 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1972-03-02
End Date : 1972-03-02
Associated Activities : Primary, OAKHAM CASTLE/CUTTS CLOSE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1989-01-01
End Date : 1989-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT OAKHAM CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, MIDLANDS REGION INSECTS
Activity type : THEMATIC SURVEY
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2003-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OAKHAM CASTLE, CUTTS CLOSE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2004-01-01
End Date : 2004-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT OAKHAM CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OAKHAM CASTLE, CUTTS CLOSE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OAKHAM CASTLE, CUTTS CLOSE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT OAKHAM CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OAKHAM CASTLE, CASTLE LANE
Activity type : DENDROCHRONOLOGICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2011-01-01
End Date : 2011-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OAKHAM CASTLE PARK (TIME TEAM)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CUTTS CLOSE, OAKHAM CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2013-01-01
End Date : 2013-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OAKHAM CASTLE, CUTTS CLOSE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2014-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT OAKHAM CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2014-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT OAKHAM CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2015-01-01
End Date : 2017-12-31