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HER Number (PRN):00183
Name:Holdgate Castle motte and bailey castle at Hall Farm
Type of Record:Monument
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1012859: Holdgate Castle motte and bailey castle and garden remains at Hall Farm

Monument Type(s):


Scheduled Monument: A fine example of a Norman motte and bailey castle with a well documented history and substantial surviving earthworks, Holdgate Castle is of particular interest because of its association with the parish church (built within one of its baileys) and with medieval and later garden earthworks to the south east.

Parish:Abdon, South Shropshire, Shropshire
Map Sheet:SO58NE
Grid Reference:SO 5629 8957

Related records

11390Parent of: Church of Holy Trinity, Holdgate (Building)
21426Parent of: Earthwork remains of enclosure and trackway NE of Holdgate Hall farm (Monument)
07721Parent of: Holdgate Castle parks and garden earthworks (Monument)
02588Parent of: Holdgate Deserted Medieval Village (Monument)
11391Parent of: Holdgate Hall, HOLDGATE (Building)

Associated Finds: None recorded

Associated Events

  • ESA4487 - 1961 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA4488 - 1982 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA4489 - 1971 field observation by the Ordnance Survey
  • ESA4490 - 1986 survey of Holdgate Castle motte and bailey castle by the NMR
  • ESA5018 - 1999 WB on drainage works for barn conversion at Holdgate Hall Farm by SCCAS
  • ESA6514 - 1996 WB at Holdgate Castle, Much Wenlock by SCCAS
  • ESA9569 - 2021 WB for new electricity poles, Holdgate Castle by Nigel Baker


Name from Helgot, Norman holder at Domesday. Recorded in 1109, 1216, 1281 and 1645 (abandoned by Royalists) . Motte survives, bailey mostly destroyed. Square foundations on motte, large C13 round tower incorporated into present farmhouse, which is SA 11391. OS FI 4/8/71 <1>

A secular college was founded in the castle before 1210 and dissolved after 1373. <5>

Evaluated for MPP in 1990-1, Medium score as one of 46 Motte and Bailey castles. Evaluated for MPP in 1990-1, Medium score as one of 15 Tower Keep castles. <12>

Scheduling revised in 1995. Scheduling description: ->

-> The monument includes the remains of Holdgate Castle, a large motte and bailey castle, with two baileys, a 13th century tower, garden remains, secular college and later ice house. The castle is situated at the northern end of a low ridge on the east side of Corve Dale in Holdgate village and lies in close proximity to the parish church, with which it is historically associated. Holdgate takes its name from the Norman landowner Helgot, who is recorded in Domesday as holding the manor, which was then known as Stanton, along with 16 others in the county of Shropshire. Helgot was a sub-tenant of Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, and is said to have built a castle here as his main residence, one of the three earliest castles to be documented in the county of Shropshire. Domesday also records an existing church and priest at Stanton. A new church, presumably replacing an earlier church, is recorded as being consecrated by Bishop Geoffrey de Clive sometime between 1115 and 1119. This 12th century church is described as being built within the perimeter of the pre-existing castle and some 12th century work survives in the fabric of the present Holy Trinity Church. A small college of secular clergy was founded in a dwelling within the castle sometime before 1210. The college is known to have survived until at least 1373, being dissolved sometime after this date. The castle was held by the Royalists during the Civil War and was laid siege to by the Parliamentarians. It was recorded as being deserted and abandoned by 1645. ->

-> The motte and bailey earthworks at Holdgate include a large castle motte, slightly oval in plan with base dimensions of 50m north to south by 46m east to west and standing up to 10m high. The flat summit of the motte measures 18m north to south by 13m east to west and has been disturbed in the north west and east quarters at some time in the past. There are several dressed stones visible in these diggings which may be part of the foundations of a tower keep which once occupied the summit of the mound. A stone lined ice house, blocked 3m from its entrance, is set into the base of the motte in the west quarter of the motte. A section of the surrounding ditch is visible as a substantial earthwork up to 11m wide and 2.lm deep running for 50m around the south west -and west sides of the motte, separating the motte from the churchyard to the south west. Around the remaining sides of the motte, farm buildings and access roads have removed any surface indications of the ditch. However, it will survive as a buried feature. ->

-> There are two baileys attached to the motte: these would have contained the domestic buildings associated with the castle. The larger of these baileys forms a level platform to the immediate north east of the motte, the area now occupied by Hall Farm. Although a large part of the bailey earthworks has been reduced by the construction of the farm buildings, sufficient evidence remains to show that the bailey platform was roughly rectangular in shape with internal dimensions of 130m north west to south east by 60m transversely. It includes a well defined length of scarp, 70m long and 0.8m high, which runs from the north corner of the motte to curve around to the east forming the north west corner of the bailey. This continues along the north side for 50m before turning south and fading out after 26m. The north west scarp is flanked on its outer edge by a berm up to 3m wide, separating the inner scarp from a shallow outer scarp which merges into the natural hillslope falling to the west. This outer scarp, up to 0.6m high, continues around the outside of the motte to join with the outer scarp of the second bailey south of the motte. The east side of the north bailey is no longer visible as a surface feature, having been levelled to accommodate farm buildings. Similarly the south western section of the bailey perimeter is no longer visible as an earthwork. However around the south eastern edge of the bailey platform the perimeter scarp is present as a steep scarp 2.2m high falling from the platform to the roadway below. In the north west quarter of this bailey and included within the scheduling, is a large semicircular mural tower believed to be 13th century in date. It is built into the rear of the later farmhouse and is of ashlar construction with narrow slit windows and a conical, tiled roof. Access to the interior of the tower is from the interior of the farmhouse, though it is not presently used for any purpose. Both the tower and the farmhouse are Listed Buildings Grade II. ->

-> To the south west of the motte, its north east side conjoined with the south west section of motte ditch, lies a smaller, possibly earlier, bailey. This level platform, edged by a steep scarp averaging 2m high, now forms the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church. It is roughly triangular in shape with internal dimensions of 77m north to south by 65m east to west. The parish church lies at the centre of this enclosure, a siting which agrees with the early reference to the church being constructed within the confines of the castle. The church and churchyard are still in use and are excluded from the scheduling but the perimeter scarp of the enclosure is included within the scheduling. The church is Listed Grade B. ->

-> To the south east of the motte and bailey complex, occupying ground falling to the south east, is a complex of earthworks forming a series of rectangular enclosures. (SA7721) They are believed to represent the remains of formal gardens associated with the later phases of the castle complex .. [more detail] .. All modern farm buildings, fences, structures, metalled surfaces, including the tennis court in the north west corner of the bailey and the perimeter wall -of the churchyard are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all of these features is included. The church, churchyard and intake pit are totally excluded from the scheduling. <13>

The postulated garden earthworks lie adjacent to and are partly entangled with earthwork settlement remains (PRN 02588). Recorded as comprising a motte and (probably) double bailey with the remains of a stone tower. Contains an analytical account of the earthworks as recorded in 1986. <14>

Measured survey drawing. <15>

Watching brief carried out on drainage works far a barn conversion at Holdgate Hall Farm, Much Wenlock in 1999 by SCCAS. The site overlaid both the remains of Holdgate Castle and the deserted medieval village of Holdgate [PRN 02588]. No significant features or deposits were disturbed during the cutting of the trenches. <16>

Photographed during aerial photographic survey in 2008-2010. <17>-<19>

A watching brief was carried out on the excavation of fourteen foundation pits cut for a new barn in 1996, within the scheduled area of Holdgate Castle. A deposit of stone rubble was found in one pit, which may possibly represent the remains of a defensive bank along the perimeter of the bailey at this point. A possible former yard surface was recorded in other pits. No dating material was found associated with any of these deposits, and no finds were recovered from the limited excavations. <20>

Photographed during aerial survey in 2019. <21>

A watching-brief was undertaken in 2021 on excavations for three new electricity supply poles and a length of earthing trench, just outside the northern perimeter of Holdgate Castle; all encountered natural clay immediately below the topsoil. There was no evidence at all of an extramural ditch either to the southern bailey containing the parish church and churchyard, or to the motte. <22>


[00]SSA20722 - Card index: Shropshire County Council SMR. Site and Monuments Record (SMR) cards. SMR record cards. SMR Card for PRN SA 00183.
[01c]SSA178 - Volume: Victoria County History. 1908. Victoria County History 1. Victoria County History of Shropshire. Vol 1. p395 with plan.
[01b]SSA243 - Article in serial: Hogg A H A & King D J C. 1967. Masonry Castles in Wales and the Marches. Archaeologia Cambrensis. Vol 116. pp.71-132. p87.
[01a]SSA953 - Article in serial: Purton R C. 1916/ 1917. Article in the Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society. Trans Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Ser 4, Vol VI (=Vol 39). p211-215.
[01]SSA956 - Card index: Ordnance Survey. 1976. Ordnance Survey Record Card SO58NE2. Ordnance Survey record cards. SO58NE2.
[02]SSA16245 - Oblique aerial photograph: Cambridge University Collection of Air Photos (CUCAP). 1966-Jan-30. CUCAP AMY43 to AMY46 (4 Photos). Black and white.
[03]SSA16246 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1988-Mar-04. CPAT 88/04/0009.
[04a]SSA637 - Monograph: Armitage Ella S. 1912. Early Norman Castles. p217-218 and fig32.
[04]SSA960 - Field Monument Warden Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (HBMC). 1983. Scheduled Monument Reports on SAMs 13507 and 13508.
[05]SSA487 - Monograph: Knowles D & Hadcock N. 1971. Medieval Religious Houses of England and Wales. p415, p427.
[06]SSA16247 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1988-Mar-04. CPAT 88/MB/0046. Black and White. Medium.
[07]SSA954 - Gazetteer: Everson P. 1991. List of RCHM Keele Work in Shropshire. Database printout.
[08]SSA958 - Scheduled Monument notification: Ministry of Public Buildings and Works. 1964. Map of Scheduled area, 1964.
[09]SSA951 - Correspondence: Various. 1986. Correspondence, 1986.
[10]SSA955 - Field Monument Warden Report: Ministry of Works. 1961. Scheduled Monument Report Form.
[12]SSA20084 - TEXT: Horton Wendy B. 1990/ 1991. MPP Evaluation File.
[13]SSA959 - Scheduled Monument notification: English Heritage. 1995. Scheduling Papers (Revised Scheduling, 03/08/1995). 19192.
[14]SSA952 - Field survey report: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME). 1986. Reports on Holdgate Castle, Formal Garden Remains and Settlement Remains. RCHME Rep. Section 1.
[15]SSA957 - Measured survey drawing: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME). 1986. Measured Survey of Holdgate Castle motte and bailey castle. 1:1000.
[16]SSA21016 - Watching brief report: Hannaford Hugh R. 1999. A watching brief at Holdgate Hall Farm, Holdgate, Much Wenlock, Shropshire. SCCAS Rep. 163.
[17]SSA26211 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2010-Mar-8. SA1005_149 to SA1005_157 (9 photos) Flight: 10_SA_05. Colour. Digital.
[18]SSA25379 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2008-Jan-30. SA0802_007 (1 photo) Flight: 08_SA_02. Colour. Digital.
[19]SSA26341 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2010-Jul-5. SA1008_260 to SA1008_265 (6 photos) Flight: 10_SA_08. Colour. Digital.
[20]SSA23723 - Watching brief report: Hannaford Hugh R. 1996. A Watching Brief at Holdgate Castle, Much Wenlock, Shropshire. SCCAS Rep. 103.
[21]SSA30951 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2019-Jul-25. SA1902_108 to SA1902_110 (3 photos) Flight: 19_SA_02. Colour. Digital.
[22]SSA31844 - Watching brief report: Baker Nigel J. 2021. An archaeological watching-brief at Holdgate Castle, Shropshire. Nigel Baker Rep.
Date Last Edited:Aug 27 2021 10:34AM