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HER No.:341
Type of Record:Monument


Substantial motte with 2 attached baileys, and other associated enclosures. Evidence of stone structures

Grid Reference:TL 014 669
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Full Description

The site lies on the east side to the village of Yielden, and comprises the remains of a medieval castle motte with baileys to the north and west, and a series of banked and ditched enclosures to the east. The motte is steep-sided and roughly oval in plan, measuring approx 55m by 70m around the base and 18m by 40m at the top. The top is on two levels, the lower, to the south, forming a D-shaped platform approx 5.5m above the level of the western bailey. To the north the level rises by approx 2m, to form a roughly square platform approx 10m square, and surrounded by a low bank. This area was excavated in 1881 and robbed out foundations were found, apparently for a keep or tower. A broad ditch or moat surrounds the motte and the western bailey, indicating a single period of construction for these features. The ditch varies between 15m and 25m wide and averages 1.5m deep. It encloses a roughly rectangular area, 90m by 45m, with the motte protruding from the north eastern corner. The western bailey contains low earthworks thought to indicate the presence of buildings, and was originally surrounded by a rampart; trenching in the bailey in 1881 uncovered remains of stone foundations, and of a retaining wall around the inside of the rampart. The second bailey lies to the north west of the motte, outside the moat, and is thought to belong to a slightly later phase in the development of the castle. The bailey is roughly triangular, approx 110m by 70m, and is partly surrounded by a rampart on its north eastern and western sides. On the north eastern side there is also a ditch surviving, which at its eastern end joins the moat near to the motte, but is approx 1m shallower than the moat. The bailey contains several building platforms, and at its northern end a possible fishpond.

The ditch running down the western side of the site has been considerably altered in medieval and modern times. It is thought to have been formed from the original course of the River Til. During the occupation of the site, but probably at a late date when defence was no longer a priority, the ditch was widened at its southern end to create a fishpond. The watercourse now runs along the centre of the pond earthwork. To the west of the pond a bank approx 1m high, 10m wide and 120m long runs parallel to the watercourse. The remains of a medieval dam can be seen at the southern end of the pond, and nearby a small island, on which foundations were found in 1882. The remains were interpreted as a dovecot.

The fishpond construction suggests a change from defensive to manorial occupation, and this is also indicated by the series of enclosures or paddocks lying to the east of the motte. These are defined by ditches, some accompanied by low banks. The eastern side of the paddocks is defined by a ditch running north east to south west, but the western edge varies as it is defined by the moat and fishpond. To the south of the paddocks is an area of ridge and furrow, somewhat reduced by modern ploughing.

At the time of Domesday Yielden was one of seven parishes held by Geoffrey de Trailly, and later became the centre of the barony of Trailly; the castle is thought to have been its focus. It remained in the possession of the Trailly family throughout the 12th and 13th centuries but by 1360 is recorded as derelict.

The site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (No. 27111).

Protected Status: None recorded

Monument Type(s):

  • BUILDING (11th Century to 14th Century - 1086 AD to 1360 AD)
  • CASTLE (11th Century to 14th Century - 1086 AD to 1360 AD)
  • MOAT (11th Century to 14th Century - 1086 AD to 1360 AD)

Associated Finds: None recorded

Associated Events: None recorded