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HER Number (PRN):00219
Name:Smethcott Motte and Bailey Castle
Type of Record:Monument
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1008394: Motte and bailey castle

Monument Type(s):


Scheduled Monument: A good example of a Norman earthwork castle which has been shown by excavation to contain well preserved archaeological remains.

Parish:Smethcott, Shrewsbury and Atcham, Shropshire
Map Sheet:SO49NW
Grid Reference:SO 4487 9937

Related records

35998Related to: 19th century reports of (undated) human remains, N side of churchyard, St Michael's Church, Smethcott (Find Spot)
00548Related to: Smethcott Deserted Medieval Village (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FSA178 - POT (12th century to 13th century - 1100 AD to 1299 AD)

Associated Events

  • ESA194 - 1956-58 Excavations at Smethcotte Motte and Bailey
  • ESA195 - 1972 field observation by the Ordnance Survey
  • ESA196 - 1973 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA197 - 1977 field observation by SCC SMR
  • ESA198 - 1982 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA199 - 1986 WB by SCC SMR
  • ESA4785 - 1992-2000 Summary Condition Survey of SAMs in the Shropshire Hills Environmentally Sensitive Area by English Heritage


Hilltop motte and bailey west of Church. Motte flat topped 14ft (3m) above ground level. Base diameter 28m and bailey to S 50m N/S, 35m E/W bounded by scarp 6m wide and 1m-1.5m high. No traces of ditch of motte or bailey. OS FI 1972 <1>

A small motte-and-bailey castle lies to the west of the church at Smethcott. The circular motte rises 14ft above ground level and 5ft above the heart-shaped bailey, defined by an 8ft scarp, which lies to the south (2). Excavations of 1956-8 revealed 12/13th century occupation with a ditch round the mound, remains of a timber structure on its summit and stone foundations, possibly of a guard-house, just outside the ditch on the east. <2c>

Excavations in 1956-8: C12 -C13 occupation. Timber structure on summit of motte, motte ditch and stone foundations outside ditch on east. Finds included a silver brooch, a bronze ornamented plaque and much medieval pottery. <3>

The site lies on a roughly E/W ridge with a gentle slope down to the north and very steep slopes immediately beyond the bailey bank to the south. The motte is noticeably flatter and lower than is usual. The site is in good condition and under permanent grass. I Burrow FI 1977 <5>

Scheduling revised in 1994. Scheduling description: ->
->The monument includes the earthwork remains of a motte and bailey castle situated on the summit of a ridge lying roughly east to west with gentle slopes to the north and steep slopes to the south. The earthworks include a well defined motte with a base diameter of 40m rising 2.8m to a flat topped summit 16m in diameter. The bailey lies on the south side of the motte and is an oval enclosure with dimensions of 50m north to south by 35m east to west bounded by a well defined scarp slope varying between 1.2m and 1.7m high. There is no visible trace of a ditch surrounding the motte from which the material for its construction would have been quarried though one survives as a buried feature with a width of 3m. Similarly the outer ditch surrounding the bailey is not visible at ground level, though it will survive as a buried feature with a width of 3m. Excavations carried out at the monument in 1956-58 revealed the existence of the motte ditch, a timber structure on the summit of the motte and stone foundations outside of the ditch on the east side. Finds made at that time, including some whole cooking pots, indicated that the site was occupied in the 12th and 13th centuries. Excluded from scheduling is the cattle shelter at the south west corner of the bailey but the ground beneath is included <10>

Photographed during aerial survey in 2009-2010. <11><12>

Visited during a condition survey by the English Heritage Field Monument Warden, in 2000. Condition recorded as good. <13>

A series of photographs of the 1956-1958 excavations were located within archive material from the collection of Ernie Jenks. Digital copies available; originals at Shropshire Archives. <14>

The features described by the previous authorities were seen on aerial photographs and mapped as part of the Marches Uplands NMP.
The motte and bailey is very denuded by ploughing. <15><15a>


[00]SSA20722 - Card index: Shropshire County Council SMR. Site and Monuments Record (SMR) cards. SMR record cards. SMR Card for PRN SA 00219.
[01]SSA1128 - Card index: Ordnance Survey. 1972. Ordnance Survey Record Card SO49NW15 . Ordnance Survey record cards. SO49NW15 .
[01a]SSA31554 - Site visit report: Ordnance Survey Field Investigator. Various. NRHE: Ordnance Survey Field Investigators Comments. F1 ASP 11-DEC-72.
[02c]SSA1126 - Volume: Gaydon A T (ed). 1968. Victoria County History 8: Condover and Ford Hundreds. Victoria County History of Shropshire. Vol 8. p149, p153-155 inc photo.
[02d]SSA1127 - Article in serial: Thomas S. 1956. Excavation Report. Medieval Archaeol. Vol 1. p157.
[02]SSA1133 - Field Monument Warden Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (HBMC). 1983. Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 13708.
[02b]SSA178 - Volume: Victoria County History. 1908. Victoria County History 1. Victoria County History of Shropshire. Vol 1. p399.
[02a]SSA783 - Monograph: Cobbold E S. 1904. Church Stretton (Vol 3). Vol 3. p49-50.
[03]SSA5588 - Newsletter: Anon. 1959. Shropshire Newsletter. Shropshire Newsl. No 6. p3 Excavations at Smethcott - G S Gamble.
[04]SSA1125 - Volume: Anon. 1958. Medieval Archaeology. Medieval Archaeol. Vol 2. p159.
[05]SSA1134 - Site visit report: Burrow Ian. 1977-May-22. Visit Notes, 22/05/1977.
[06]SSA1132 - Photograph: Anon. 1986. Slides. Colour.
[07]SSA1130 - Scheduled Monument notification: Department of the Environment (DoE). 1975. Map of Scheduled area, 1975.
[08]SSA1124 - Correspondence: Various. 1986. Correspondence, 1986.
[09]SSA1129 - Photograph: Anon. 1986. Photo.
[10]SSA1131 - Scheduled Monument notification: English Heritage. 1994. Scheduling Papers (Revised Scheduling, 17/05/1994). 19145.
[11]SSA25861 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2009-Mar-5. SA0903_97 to SA0903_101 (5 photos) Flight: 09_SA_03. Colour. Digital.
[12]SSA26504 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2010-Jan-30. SA1002_128 to SA1002_130 (3 photos) Flight: 10_SA_02. Colour. Digital.
[13]SSA20802 - Field survey report: Leigh Judith. 2001. Scheduled Ancient Monuments in the Shropshire Hills ESA: Brief Condition Survey.
[14]SSA31288 - Project archive: Jenks W E (Ernie). Photographic and other archives from Ernie Jenks related to excavations at Sharpstones Hill, Smethcott Motte & Bailey, Pride Hill Chambers etc.. Various.
[15]SSA31570 - COLLECTION: Historic England. 1993-1994. NRHE: RCHME: Marches Uplands NMP. MU.35.1.
[15a]SSA31574 - Vertical aerial photograph: Historic England / Ordnance Survey. c.1960-1980. NRHE: Ordnance Survey Aerial Photographs held by Historic England Archive. Black and white. OS 71/319 388-9 05-JUL-1971.
Date Last Edited:Jun 22 2022 4:15PM