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HER Number (PRN):01121
Name:Knockin Castle
Type of Record:Monument
Protected Status:Conservation Area: Knockin
Scheduled Monument 1019304: Knockin Castle

Monument Type(s):


Scheduled Monument: Despite some modification, this is still a well preserved example of a Norman motte and bailey castle, and is of particular interest because of its close association with the late 12th century church and planned settlement of Knockin.

Parish:Knockin, Oswestry, Shropshire
Map Sheet:SJ32SW
Grid Reference:SJ 3349 2235

Related records

08016Related to: Medieval Planted Settlement of Knockin (Monument)
03723Related to: Possible Borough Boundary Ditch of Knockin, or Castle Outworks (Monument)

Associated Finds: None recorded

Associated Events

  • ESA1408 - 1971 field observation by the Ordnance Survey
  • ESA1409 - 1977 field observation by Shropshire County Council
  • ESA1410 - 1979 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA1411 - 1982 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA7104 - 1980 DBA and walkover survey of the Parish of Knockin, Shropshire by V E Turner
  • ESA7575 - 2011 DBA of land at Knockin, Shropshire by Ironbridge Archaeology
  • ESA7576 - 2014/5 assessment of visual impacts at Knockin by CPAT
  • ESA7752 - 2015 DBA of land at Knockin Hall Farm, Knockin, Shropshire by Richard K Morriss


Founded by Guy le Strange in reign of Henry II. Last mention in 1322 Ruinous by early C16 <1a-c>
Motte: Large oblong 19ft high on the north where ditch is 5ft deep. Modern mound at SE. Bailey: to the east of the castle and bounded only by a scarp. On the south a fragment of curtain wall <1d>
Tree covered. Encloses 1.4 acres. No masonry surviving. A curved ditch visible on air photos and running from SJ3325 2243 to SJ3345 2251 may be part of the earthworks of the borough. The stream on the west side of the motte is a leet, but location of mill obscure. OS FI 1971 <1>

The motte is tree-covered and the bailey, lying to the north and east, encloses an area of 1.4 acres. No masonry remains. The stream on the west side of the motte is a leat, but the location of the mill is not apparent. There is no evidence of a bailey enclosing the church. Published survey 25" revised. <1e>

Knockin Castle is situated between two streams, just above their confluence. It is thickly overgrown with trees and bushes and reduced to earthwork remains only. The motte has base measurements of 72.0m. north-south, by 60.0m. transversely, a height of 4.5m., and a summit area measuring 55.0m. by 45.0m. It has been dug away on the east side, and considerably dug into over the southern half of the summit.
A large bank of spoil is heaped around the south-east corner. The remains of a ditch, 10.0m. to 15.0m. wide on the north and east sides, separate a crescent-shaped bailey from the motte. The bailey, bounded by a scarp 1.0m. high, measures 150.0m. north- west to south-east by 80.0. north to south. The southern half has lately been reduced by garden landscape work which presumably destroyed the last vestiges of masonry. 1:2500 M.S.D. revised. <1f>

Dense tree cover except on summit. The mound at the SE corner has clearly been built from material from the southern part of the flat summit, which is hollowed out in this area. On the south and west sides, however, there does seem to be a bank encircling the perimeter of the motte. In the rectory garden the scarp is now hardly traceable. On the north side the break is very much spread and any western extension is covered by modern houses. A ditch is very clearly visible on the north side. I Burrow FI 1977 <6>

A further bailey may have enclosed the church, and the borough may also have been surrounded by an earthwork. An earthwork beyond the motte guarded the manorial mill. <7>

Evaluated for MPP in 1990-1, Medium score as one of 46 Motte and Bailey castles <13>

Scheduling revised in 2000. Scheduling description: ->

-> The monument includes the earthwork, structural and buried remains of a motte and bailey castle, immediately east of St Mary's Church which was established by Ralph Le Strange between 1182 and 1195. The castle and the church lie at the eastern end of the village of Knockin, which is believed to have been deliberately planned and laid out in the mid- to late 12th century. The castle was founded by Guy Le Strange between 1154 and 1160, and it was to remain the principal holding or 'caput' of the Le Strange family for most of the Middle Ages. It is not known when the castle was abandoned, but Leland in about 1540 describes it as 'a ruinous thing'. ->

-> The castle occupies a low-lying position in an area of gently undulating land and is bounded to the east and west by tributaries of the Weir Brook. The steep sided rectangular motte measures approximately 60m by 70m at its base, 46m by 54m across the top, and stands up to 4m high. Quarrying for sand and gravel has modified much of the surface of the southern half of the motte, and there is a modern mound, into which a concrete flag base has been set, on top of the motte next to its eastern side. The ditch which surrounds the motte and separates it from the bailey has largely been infilled. The L-shaped bailey, about 0.6ha in area, lies to the east and north of the motte and is defined by a series of scarps between 0.4m and 1.2m high. The northern side of the bailey is bounded by a ditch, now a shallow depression, between 11m and 14m wide, and by an outer bank about 8m wide and 0.4m high. On the eastern side of the motte there are the remains of a medieval stone built causeway, about 5m wide, which originally connected the motte to the bailey. It is constructed of dressed red sandstone blocks and stands 1.5m high and is included in the scheduling. ->

-> Much of the eastern part of the bailey is occupied by The Rectory, built in 1901, associated outbuildings and the surrounding garden. Extensive landscaping of this area in the 20th century is considered to have severely affected the preservation of archaeological remains and as a consequence the area is not included in the scheduling. ->

-> A number of features are excluded from the scheduling these are; all fences gates and stiles, the concrete flag pole base, the water trough and the concrete base on which it stands, and the poles carrying electric cables; the ground beneath all these features is, however, included. <14>

Photographed during aerial photographic survey in 2010. <15><16>

The first castle building is considered, from documentary evidence to have been built c.1202 and may have been built of wood, possibly after Ruyton Castle had been destroyed by the Welsh. In the 16th century Leland described the castle as a "ruinous thing" and by 1758 it had been dismantled to build Knockin New Hall, stones also being used for the churchyard walls, a bridge over the brook and repairs to the roads. Some squares of painted glass were purportedly found amongst the ruins, in 1899, although these cannot now be located. ->

-> The site was visited during the Knockin Parish survey in 1980. The moat was described as very disturbed, having a recent mound in the SE corner which is made from material hollowed out from its summit. Immediately to the north of the mound (in Castle Moor Field) two banks are visible, the outer one of the pair being short. The banks are wide and of sandy soil, and therefore would have needed revetting to be solid. Reproduces a sketch plan by Ian Burrow showing a series of earthworks to the east. <17>

The medieval plantation settlement of Knockin is inextricably linked to the castle. It is believed to have resisted an attack by Llewellyn in 1228 and is last mentioned in 1322. <18>

A visual impact assessment was undertaken in 2014/5 of a proposed development site in Knockin, considering the setting of this site. <19>

An account of the castle in the Salopian Magazine of April 1817, presumably quoting from local peoples’ memories, suggests that it had a large stone keep, stone walls, a gate house, and several defensive towers; it specifically mentions a large stone building within the defences that had a basement used as a prison which survived until being pulled down in 1758, its stones being used in the construction of Knockin Hall. <20>

Knockin. Built in mid 12th century, mentioned in 1165 and in 1322. <21>

The motte and bailey fall within the area mapped from aerial photographs by RCHME's Marches Uplands Mapping Project, but the features were not recorded by that survey. No further information about the motte and bailey could be obtained from aerial photographic evidence because details of the site have been obscured by vegetation and development. <22>


[00]SSA20722 - Card index: Shropshire County Council SMR. Site and Monuments Record (SMR) cards. SMR record cards. SMR Card for PRN SA 01121.
[01d]SSA178 - Volume: Victoria County History. 1908. Victoria County History 1. Victoria County History of Shropshire. Vol 1. p396.
[01a]SSA242 - Article in serial: Eyton R W. 1887. The Castles of Shropshire. Trans Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Ser 1, Vol X (=Vol 10). p20-21.
[01e]SSA31554 - Site visit report: Ordnance Survey Field Investigator. Various. NRHE: Ordnance Survey Field Investigators Comments. F1 MHB 30-DEC-71.
[01f]SSA31554 - Site visit report: Ordnance Survey Field Investigator. Various. NRHE: Ordnance Survey Field Investigators Comments. F2 ASP 12-OCT-79.
[01c]SSA3900 - Monograph: Leland J (ed Smith L T). 1962. The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-43. Vol 5, p14.
[01b]SSA4370 - Volume: Anon. 1967. Archaeologia Cambrensis. Archaeologia Cambrensis. Vol 116. p108.
[01]SSA4372 - Card index: Ordnance Survey. 1977. Ordnance Survey Record Card SJ32SW4. Ordnance Survey record cards. SJ32SW4.
[02]SSA17085 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1979-Jul-30. CPAT 79/14/0026 to 0027 (2 photos). Black and white.
[03]SSA18045 - Oblique aerial photograph: Cambridge University Collection of Air Photos (CUCAP). 1972-May-17. CUCAP K17Z100 (1 Vertical Photo). Black and white.
[04]SSA17086 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1986-Jan-03. CPAT 86/01/0030 to 0031 (2 photos).
[05]SSA4374 - Field Monument Warden Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (HBMC). 1983. Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 13705.
[06]SSA4375 - Site visit report: Burrow Ian. 1977-Sep-02. Visit Notes, 02/09/1977.
[07]SSA3632 - Article in serial: Anon. 1957/ 1960. Ellesmere Annual Excursion 1957. Trans Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Vol 56. p3. p3.
[08]SSA4373 - Scheduled Monument notification: English Heritage. Map of Scheduled area.
[09]SSA17087 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1992-May-03. CPAT 92/MB/0298 to 0299 (2 photos). Black and White. Medium.
[10]SSA17088 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1992-May-03. CPAT 92/C/0519 to 0520 (2 photos). Colour. 35mm.
[11]SSA17089 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1992-Jun-26. CPAT 92/C/1036. Colour. 35mm.
[12a]SSA16815 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1992-May-03. CPAT 92/MC01/0007. Colour. Medium.
[12b]SSA17090 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1992-May-03. CPAT 92/MC01/0007 and 0009 to 0010 (3 photos). Colour. Medium.
[13]SSA20084 - TEXT: Horton Wendy B. 1990/ 1991. MPP Evaluation File.
[14]SSA21356 - Scheduled Monument notification: English Heritage. 2000. Scheduling Papers (Revised Scheduling, 18/07/2000). 33820.
[15]SSA27037 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2010-Jan-7. SA1001_033 to SA1001_035 (3 photos) Flight: 10_SA_01. Colour. Digital.
[16]SSA26074 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2010-Jan-7. SA1001_028 to SA1001_029 (2 photos) Flight: 10_SA_01. Colour. Digital.
[17]SSA8962 - Monograph: Turner V E. 1981. An Archaeological Survey of Knockin. KN17.
[18]SSA28198 - Deskbased survey report: Kelleher S. 2011. Archaeological DBA at land at Knockin, Shropshire. Ironbridge Archaeology Series. p.11.
[19]SSA28199 - Deskbased survey report: Jones N. 2014/2015. A development site in Knockin, Shropshire. CPAT Rep. 1268-2.
[20]SSA28517 - Deskbased survey report: Morriss Richard K. 2015. Land at Knockin Hall Farm, Knockin, Shropshire: a heritage impact statement on a proposed poultry unit. Mercian Heritage Series. 867.
[21]SSA29017 - Monograph: Cathcart King D J. 1983. Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Volume II : Norfolk-Yorkshire and the islands. Vol 2. Vol.2; p.426.
[22]SSA31570 - COLLECTION: Historic England. 1993-1994. NRHE: RCHME: Marches Uplands NMP.
Date Last Edited:Jun 8 2023 3:10PM