HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Oxfordshire Historic Environment Record Result
Oxfordshire Historic Environment RecordPrintable version | About Oxfordshire Historic Environment Record | Visit Oxfordshire Historic Environment Record online...

Oxfordshire HER logo

Please read Important information about Oxfordshire’s Historic Environment Record data on Heritage Gateway

HER Number: 1151
Record Type: Monument
Name: Swerford Castle (Motte & Bailey)


  • Scheduled Monument () 1014748: Swerford Castle
Grid Reference: SP 372 311

Monument Type(s):


Consists of C12th motte and bailey castle and an associated enclosure, overlooking the valley of the River Swere at a point where the river is fordable. C20th excavations.

Associated Monuments

  • None
  • Associated Finds:

  • FOX6239 - SHERD (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • Description

    (1) The motte survives as a small stone and earthen conical mound c.18m in diameter at its summit and c.30m across at its base. It stands c.4m above the original ground level. It has been slightly truncated to the S where it has been levelled into the ditch.
    The bailey to the S of the motte is roughly kidney-shaped. It encloses an area c.52m across from E-W and 47m from N-S surrounded by a stone rampart 5m across and up to 3m high and a substantial ditch 10m wide and c.5m deep. It survives around the entire circuit except for a short 20m long section in the SW corner which was destroyed in 1925 by an extension of the adjacent churchyard. A number of platforms within the bailey mark the location of stables, kitchens and store rooms which will have buried remains. The original entrance lies on the N side of the castle, facing the ford. It is situated between the motte and the bailey ditch and measures 8m across.
    To the NE of the motte lies a second, smaller, bailey on which two slight circular platforms stand. Both platforms, believed to be the locations of a dovecote and windmill, measure c.13m in diameter and 0.4m high. The bailey has no ditch as such but is formed by a raised platform of material cut out of the slope. It measures c.32m from N-S and 19m from E-W. Slight traces of ridge and furrow cultivation are visible in the NE corner of the field in which the castle lies. These represent agricultural activity around the site in the Middle Ages. To the SW there is also a slight hollow way running through the line of the ditch which is believed to date to the period after the castle fell out of use.
    Part excavations in 1938 and 1956 recovered a large quantity of pottery and some metal work. Much of the pottery was of the same type as that found at Ascott d'oyley castle, believed to have been built at a similar date by the same family. The pottery suggests a date for the castle's construction in the second half of the C12, perhaps linked to the unrest of the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda known the 'the Anarchy'.
    Excluded from the scheduling are the boundary fences and wall although the ground beneath is included
    (4) Sherds of medieval pottery picked up by Mr F Whilley of Bloxham include 1 gritted, 1 speckled green glaze, 1 gritty unglazed and 1 with brown glaxed stripes
    (5) Jope and Threfall continued their excavation of the motte, which proved to be of piled stone foundation and seems never to have had a stone tower.
    8) Topographic survey undertaken for Natural England in order to identify and record visible historic features, extant archaeology and relevant topology. It was hoped the data could be used to identify relationships between the study area and those features from previous excavations, some of which date to C12. Survey identified a number of features on site, some relating to the motte and bailey, some to the outer bailey and some to agricultural use.
    9)UID: 335112, check Link in Source form for additional information and sources.

    <1> English Heritage, Scheduled Ancient Monuments Record, SM 21833 (Scheduling record). SOX283.

    <2> Local Informant as main provider of information, Oxfordshire Archaeological Society Report (1938). See brief note in DRF (Verbal communication). SOX277.

    <3> Victoria County History of Oxford, Vol 2, p.326 (Serial). SOX252.

    <4> Local Informant as main provider of information, Mr F Whilley, Bloxham (1974) (Verbal communication). SOX277.

    <5> Medieval Archaeology, Vol II (1958) (Serial). SOX318.

    <6> Additional Information in Detailed Record File, Report of 1956 excavations by Jope and Threlfall (Index). SOX258.

    <7> Black and White print photographs, 1 aerial view taken in 1972/3, 2 undated and 4 taken in 1963/4 (Photograph). SOX315.

    <8> Oxford Archaeology, 2012, Swerford Castle, Oxfordshire (Unpublished document). SOX2934.

    <9> Gloucestershire County Council, 2012, South-East Warwickshire and Cotswold Hills HLS National Mapping Programme (Unpublished document). SOX2978.


    <1>English Heritage. Scheduled Ancient Monuments Record. SM 21833. [Scheduling record / SOX283]
    <2>Local Informant as main provider of information. Oxfordshire Archaeological Society Report (1938). See brief note in DRF. [Verbal communication / SOX277]
    <3>Victoria County History of Oxford. Vol 2, p.326. [Serial / SOX252]
    <4>Local Informant as main provider of information. Mr F Whilley, Bloxham (1974). [Verbal communication / SOX277]
    <5>Medieval Archaeology. Vol II (1958). [Serial / SOX318]
    <6>Additional Information in Detailed Record File. Report of 1956 excavations by Jope and Threlfall. [Index / SOX258]
    <7>Black and White print photographs. 1 aerial view taken in 1972/3, 2 undated and 4 taken in 1963/4. [Photograph / SOX315]
    <8>Oxford Archaeology. 2012. Swerford Castle, Oxfordshire. [Unpublished document / SOX2934]
    <9>Gloucestershire County Council. 2012. South-East Warwickshire and Cotswold Hills HLS National Mapping Programme. [Unpublished document / SOX2978]