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Historic England Research Records

Whittington Castle

Hob Uid: 66896
Location :
Shropshire
Shropshire
Whittington
Grid Ref : SJ3256031090
Summary : An earlier medieval motte and bailey castle surviving as an earthwork first built in 1138 and altered in 1221 with the construction of a stone keep, curtain walls, towers and a gatehouse which was restored in the late 18th century. A moat, fishpond and other ditches survive. The early motte survives to a height of 4.7 metres and is 38 metres north to south by 34 metres transversely. Two towers still remain. The castle was decayed but nearly entire when surveyed in 1545, but later fell into ruin and was robbed for its materials. In the late 18th century, the site was laid out as a garden, with pebble-laid paths and brick structures. A moat, fishpond and other ditches survive. The castle has been excavated by R A Hartley. Scheduled and listed.
More information : (SJ 32563109) Castle (NR) (Remains of) (NAT) Tower (NR) (1)

(SJ 326310) Moat (NR) (2)

The earliest castle at Whittington was a motte and bailey, originally fortified in 1138. The motte is now 18 feet high (3) and the original bailey was apparently to the north-west, where its north-eastern side was defended by a morass. The castle was extensively altered in 1221 when a stone keep was built, surrounded by a curtain wall with five towers and a gate-house on the north-east side. The south and west sides were defended by a complex of banks and ditches (shown as a 'Moat' on OS 1:2500, 1881). It is possible that the early village was contained within the outer bailey of the early castle, and was removed to its present site during the 13th century (6).

A fishpond survives within one section of the bailey. The keep fell into decay at an early date as a mulberry tree was growing on the site in 1820. The eastern tower fell into the moat about 1760, and the curtain wall and three of the remaining towers were gradually removed for repair work after that date. "Very little remains except the two towers of the gatehouse and some portions of ancient buildings converted into a dwelling". Inside the ruin is the courtyard, part of which is now a garden. Grade 1 (7). (3-7)

Earthworks revised at 1:2500. (8)

R.A. Hartley excavated for the M.P.B.W. within the bailey curtain wall to establish the phases of occupation. The latest was probably 16th century. Evidence of earlier 12th-13th century occupation was indicated by the footings of a small rectangular keep; the surface of the original motte on which it stood was traced 5.5m. down to the base of the curtain wall. A consistent layer of charcoal running between the two occupation levels suggests that the earlier castle was burnt.

Sizable footings of a complex of buildings and one or two culverts in perfect condition have been found with-in the bailey. Finds included a large number of sherds nails, other unidentified iron objects and two coins. (9)

Whittington Castle lies within a bend of a tributary of the River Perry, in low-lying ground at 290 feet above O.D. The early motte stands to a height of 4.7m. and measures at the base, 38.0m. north-south, by 34.0m. transversely. The summit measures 21.0m. by 11.0m. A ditch on the west side, which is cut into slightly rising ground, is 12.0m. wide and averages 1.5m. in depth. A causeway crosses it to the motte. The bailey was to the west. Apart from a ditch bounding the east side, which is 9.0m. in width, 1.3m. in depth and 60.0m. in length, and a line of scarps 50.0m. long on the north side, overlooking former marshland, the original extent cannot now be ascertained, due to the cutting of later earthwork defences. 50.0m. to the east of the motte stands the stone-built castle. The curtain walls, 2.5m. thick, stands to a height of 5.5m., and enclose a pentogonal-shaped bailey measuring 40.0m. east-west, by 30.0m. transversely.

Round towers, 11.0m. in diameter, stood at the corners, two flanking the entrance through the short north-west side. Internally, the curtain wall stands 1.3m. above the surface of the bailey, which is some 4.0m. above outside ground level. The tower flanking the east side of the entrance rises to its full original height some 5.0m. above the bailey, but the north-east tower is reduced to curtain wall level. The other towers have been reduced to outside ground level. At the centre of the bailey are the foundations of the keep. The stone-built walls are 2.7m. thick, and measure externally 15.5m. north-south, by 11.0m. transversely. They have been restored to a height of 0.5m. On the east side of the bailey are wall foundations of a large building or hall, measuring 16.0m. by 8.0m., with a line of buttress foundations along the outside of the long, western side wall.

Within the south-west angle of the bailey is the foundation walling of a circular building, 3.7m. in diameter, and in the north-west corner is a stone-lined well, 0.9m. in internal diameter, which is filled with rubbish to within 1.0m. of the bailey surface. Opposite the entrance, at 20.0m. distance, is an earthen mound measuring 26.0m. east-west, by 16.0m. transversely and standing 3.6m. in height. This mound probably supported wooden bridges, south to the castle, and east to the gatehouse.

The gatehouse comprises two half-round towers fronting stone buildings, which flank a covered, arched entrance. A curtain wall standing 4.0m. high, runs north for 10.0m to a corner tower, and then west for 15.0m. to terminate at a second tower, thus giving cover to the castle entrance. The latter tower is reduced to 1.5m. height.

From the gatehouse, a stone-built causeway, 1.5m. wide, extends 18.0m.eastwards, over the remains of a moat. The moat, now an ornamental pond which extends from the southern end of the east side of the castle to a point 80.0m. north of the gatehouse, formerly encircled the castle, the earthen mound on the north, and probably the earlier motte on the west, and linked up with the marsh to the north, and the stream flowing away to the south-east. The exposed west and south sides were defended, on the west by two ditches, the outer one flanked by banks, on the south by three ditches flanked by banks. These defences extend for some 300.0m, and measure from 60.0 to 76.0m.across. The earthen banks are from 6.0 to 12.0m in width, and from 1.0 to 2.2m. in height.

Within the north-east corner of the bailey, 80.0m. north-west of the motte, is a now-dry rectangular fish pond, measuring 30.0m. north-south, by 16.0m. transversely, and 1.5m. in depth. Published 1:2500 survey 1969, revised on M.S.D. (10)

Whittington Castle (formerly listed as The Castle). Grade I. (11)

SJ 325 311. Whittington Castle. Scheduled. (12)

The remains of Whittingtom Castle (as described above). Originally fortified in 1138, the motte and bailey castle was replaced by a fortified keep in the early 13th century. The castle was decayed but nearly entire when surveyed in 1545, but later fell into ruin and was robbed for its materials. In the late 18th century, the site was laid out as a garden, with pebble-laid paths and brick structures, and the outer gatehouse was repaired. Scheduled. (13)

Extensive notes on castle by Cathcart King. (14)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1954
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Source Number : 2
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 25" 1881
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 11
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : DOE(HHR) Borough of Oswestry Shropshire 2 Sept 1987 79
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Source Number : 12
Source : County list of Scheduled Monuments : March 1994
Source details : Salop
Page(s) : 10
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Source Number : 13
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : EH Scheduled Monument Revision, 09-NOV-2000
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Source Number : 3
Source : The Victoria history of Shropshire: volume one
Source details : Plan (J C Wall & E A Downman)
Page(s) : 401
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Source Number : 4
Source : Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society
Source details : R W Eyton
Page(s) : 19-20
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 10
Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Castles & Old Mansions Salop 1868 18 illusts (F S Acton)
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Source Number : 6
Source : Archaeologia Cambrensis
Source details : Photos
Page(s) : 409-412
Figs. :
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Vol(s) : 78
Source Number : 7
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : DOE (HHR) Oswestry RD June 1951 12
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Source Number : 8
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 BHP 23-JAN-67
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Source Number : 9
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details : D M Wilson & S Moorhouse
Page(s) : 148
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Vol(s) : 15
Source Number : 10
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 ASP 05-OCT-79
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Norman
Monument End Date : 1170
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey, Keep
Evidence : Earthwork, Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : From 1221-50
Monument End Date : 1250
Monument Start Date : 1221
Monument Type : Castle, Keep, Moat, Fishpond, Curtain Wall, Interval Tower, Gatehouse
Evidence : Ruined Building, Earthwork, Structure, Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Late C18th
Monument End Date : 1799
Monument Start Date : 1767
Monument Type : Garden, Gatehouse
Evidence : Extant Building, Sub Surface Deposit

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : Salop 17
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 255836
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 21680
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SJ 33 SW 7
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SJ 33 SW 6
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1967-01-23
End Date : 1967-01-23
Associated Activities : WHITTINGTON CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1970-01-01
End Date : 1970-12-31
Associated Activities : WHITTINGTON CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1976-01-01
End Date : 1976-12-31
Associated Activities : WHITTINGTON CASTLE
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1976-01-01
End Date : 1976-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SJ 33 SW 6
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1979-10-05
End Date : 1979-10-05
Associated Activities : THE WHITE LION PUBLIC HOUSE, CASTLE STREET
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : WHITTINGTON CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : WHITTINGTON CASTLE
Activity type : MANAGEMENT SURVEY
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : WHITTINGTON CASTLE
Activity type : MANAGEMENT SURVEY
Start Date : 2004-01-01
End Date : 2004-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT WHITTINGTON CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : WHITTINGTON CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2006-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31