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HER Number: 1146
Record Type: Monument
Name: Chipping Norton Motte and Bailey Castle


  • Scheduled Monument () 1014747: Chipping Norton motte and bailey castle, and fishpond
Grid Reference: SP 311 274

Monument Type(s):


Includes the remains of motte and bailey castle and associated fishpond to its west. Two distinct phases. Castle built by Fitzalans of Clun during C12th, with earlier motte and bailey built soon after 1066.

Associated Monuments

  • None
  • Associated Finds:

  • None
  • Description

    1) Two distinct phases in the layout of the castle can be recognised in the present earthwork remains. The earliest castle included a motte, now known as the Mount, and a large bailey to the E which encloses the whole area in which the later castle earthworks were built. The motte has been altered by modern landscaping but remains clearly visible as a conical mound with a flat top c.30m in diameter. This stands c.6m above the meadow to the NW and c.2m above the top of the natural slope outside the present castle. The bailey has been partly levelled by the building of the later castle but survives as a low rampart bank c.4m wide and 1.5m high enclosing an area c.196m from W-E and 108m from N-S. It is surrounded by a ditch, part of which has been reused for the later castle and the remains of which are partly infilled. However, it can be seen at the E of the monument where it survives as a shallow feature c.10m wide.
    The original entrance appears to have been in the SE corner where the later castle entrance was also located. The later castle had two enclosed areas or 'wards' of which the one to the NE was the smalller. They were formed by levelling part of the valley slope and building high ramparts with deep ditches on all sides, except the NW where the rampart is supported by a natural slope. The enclosed area is 164m by 82m, divided into two wards by a NW-SE ditch. The ramparts stand up to 5m high and measure up to 8m across. The surrounding ditches vary in width and depth depending on the topography but are up to 8m deep and measure as much as 20m across on the S side. Internally, the wards are sub-divided by a series of low banks which are believed to represent the lines of walls, and a number of building platforms have been recorded, including a possible gatehouse.
    To the NW of the castle lies a broad meadow, bounded by the stream which runs through the valley to the N, and the base of the castle earthworks to the S. This meadow may originally have been a fishpond and certainly provided grazing for horses. This is not included in the scheduling. To the W of the castle lies a fishpond measuring 70m across and 150m long. This has partly silted up over the years and is now dry although often waterlogged after rain. Its SW end is defined by a large 15m wide bank c.4m above the base of the valley.
    The castle is known from documentary sources to have been built by the Fitzalans of Clun during the C12. This refers to the later visible earthworks and the earlier motte and bailey must belong to the period immediately after the Norman Conquest in 1066 AD. The castle is believed to have later been used as a seasonal hunting lodge by the Fitzalans, as were other castles around the royal hunting lodge at Langley in Wychwood Forest. The castle appears to have still been inhabited in 1268 but had gone out of use and was in ruins by 1566. When the house known as the Mount was built, in 1869, a number of finds were made which were said to show ..'beyond a doubt that the beautiful new mansion of H F Wilkins Esq formed part of the ancient castle.'
    Excluded from the scheduling are the house known as The Mount, all boundary fences crossing the site, all existing telegraph poles and lamp stands and the modern surface of the Mount driveway and that to Spring Hill, although the land beneath all of the above is included.
    2) Defined as motte and bailey castle for MPP.
    3) It's likely that castle was built earlier than the C12th, since there is a motte at the site. Castle was probably sited near the Saxon settlement for which there is no evidence. It seems to have been substantially altered at some period after this, presumably by the Fitzalan family, and the defences made stronger.
    7) UID:334897 , check Link in Source form for additional information and sources.

    <1> English Heritage, Scheduled Ancient Monuments Record, SM 21808 (Scheduling record). SOX283.

    <1a> Victoria County History of Oxford, Vol II, p.323 (includes plan) (Serial). SOX252.

    <2> MPP Documents for Oxfordshire, S Lisk, 18.11.92 (Index). SOX259.

    <3> Additional Information in Detailed Record File, Chipping Norton Castle, by Amanda Chadburn (1980). (Index). SOX258.

    <4> Slide Cabinet, 4 aerial views (Photograph). SOX303.

    <5> OS Record Card, SP 32 NW 14 (Index). SOX273.

    <6> Black and White print photographs, 12 aerial views of site taken by Helicopter Training School, Netheravon (1972/3) (Photograph). SOX315.

    <7> Gloucestershire County Council, 2012, South-East Warwickshire and Cotswold Hills HLS National Mapping Programme (Unpublished document). SOX2978.


    <1a>Victoria County History of Oxford. Vol II, p.323 (includes plan). [Serial / SOX252]
    <1>English Heritage. Scheduled Ancient Monuments Record. SM 21808. [Scheduling record / SOX283]
    <2>MPP Documents for Oxfordshire. S Lisk, 18.11.92. [Index / SOX259]
    <3>Additional Information in Detailed Record File. Chipping Norton Castle, by Amanda Chadburn (1980).. [Index / SOX258]
    <4>Slide Cabinet. 4 aerial views. [Photograph / SOX303]
    <5>OS Record Card. SP 32 NW 14. [Index / SOX273]
    <6>Black and White print photographs. 12 aerial views of site taken by Helicopter Training School, Netheravon (1972/3). [Photograph / SOX315]
    <7>XY>Gloucestershire County Council. 2012. South-East Warwickshire and Cotswold Hills HLS National Mapping Programme. [Mapped feature: #51122 ] [Unpublished document / SOX2978]