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HER Number (PRN):01124
Name:Motte W of Church (West Felton Motte)
Type of Record:Monument
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1019296: Motte castle

Monument Type(s):

  • MOTTE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1540 AD)
  • WATCH TOWER (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1540 AD)
  • PROSPECT MOUND? (Early 18th century to Late 19th century - 1700 AD to 1899 AD)


Scheduled Monument: A well-preserved Norman motte (earthwork castle) probably built in the late 11th century and associated with the adjacent 12th century church, this site shows signs of reuse first for a watchtower and later, perhaps, for an 18th-19th century summerhouse or viewpoint.

Parish:West Felton, Oswestry, Shropshire
Map Sheet:SJ32NW
Grid Reference:SJ 3405 2523

Related records

32000Parent of: Postulated castle bailey/manorial complex, West Felton (Monument)
00903Related to: Church of St Michael, Woolston Road, West Felton (Monument)

Associated Finds: None recorded

Associated Events

  • ESA1420 - 1971 field observation by the Ordnance Survey
  • ESA1421 - 1979 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA1422 - 1982 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA1423 - 1983 field observation by SCC SMR
  • ESA1424 - 1995 Recording and monitoring of repair works at West Felton motte by SCCAS
  • ESA4765 - 2002 Trial Trenches at the Old Rectory by Marches Archaeology
  • ESA5112 - 2002-2003 WB on construction works at The Old Rectory by Marches Archaeology
  • ESA7680 - 2012 DBA of Manor Farm, West Felton by Richard K Morriss
  • ESA8576 - 2016 monitoring of clearance works on motte and WB on excavation work at Manor Farm, Old Rectory Lane, West Felton by Castlering Archaeology
  • ESA9041 - 2019 Heritage impact assessment of landscaping at Manor Farm House, West Felton by Richard K Morriss (Ref: 19/01751/FUL)


Motte with wet moat lined with masonry. One bailey enclosed the church, the other the castle buildings on the site of the present farmhouse. Said to have been extant in 1086 AD. <1a>
A circular mound 2.3m high and 40m in diameter at the base surrounded by a partially water-filled ditch 1.2m deep. At the centre of the summit of the mound is a smaller mound 2m high and 18m in diameter, surrounded by traces of a smaller ditch. No trace of a bailey remains, though both the farm buildings and the church to the NE and E stand on high ground. OS FI 1971 <1><1b>

There is no evidence for a bailey having enclosed the area of the church. However, there are some indications that a bailey may have extended NE to include the area of the adjacent farm and the field beyond it. The evidence for this is a possible ditch feature running through the farmyard, which is due to be infilled. A probable continuation of this feature is represented by a distinct ditch like depression abutting onto and running adjacent to the track leading to the farm. This turns at the corner of the field and then runs off at an angle in the form of a shallow linear ditch . There is no trace of this ditch returning back to the motte to define a N side to the ? Bailey. Another ditch runs NW/SE across the same field, though it is unclear whether this too is part of a possible bailey earthwork. If these linear ditch features do define the area of a bailey, then it would have covered a considerable area. M Watson FI 1983 <4>

Evaluated for MPP in 1990-1, Low score as one of 46 Motte and Bailey castles. <7>

In June to July 1995 a programme of repair and archaeological recording was carried out on the motte, grant aided by English Heritage. Eroded areas of the mound were stabilised by importing topsoil which was retained by biodegradable netting and pegged wooden boards. Prior to this repair work, the erosion scars were cleaned and recorded by the SCCAS. Evidence for layered construction involving the inclusion of turf layers was noted. There was also evidence that material from the top edge of the motte had been removed in later landscaping to produce both the platform on the top of the motte and the central inner mound now found at the site <8>

Excavation and WB carried out at the Old Rectory, West Felton, to gain further information on the archaeological implications of a planning application to erect four dwellings on the site. Documentary evidence suggested the site possibly lay within the bailey, but no evidence for this could be found. <9><10>

Scheduling affirmed in 2000. Scheduling description: ->

-> The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle situated next to the 12th century church of St Michael. The castle was probably built in the late 11th century when the manor of West Felton formed part of the land held by Roger de Montgomery. The castle mound was constructed on a gradual west facing slope and is surrounded by gently undulating land with extensive views of the Oswestry uplands and the Welsh hills to the west. It is roughly circular, about 46m in diameter at its base and 34m across the top, and stands 3.2m high. It is surrounded by a ditch, between 12m and 16m wide, the eastern half of which is filled with water. Archaeological recording in advance of earthwork repairs to the monument in 1995 demonstrated that the mound was built of earth, but incorporated layers of turf. ->

-> At a later date a smaller circular mound was built on top of the main mound at its centre. This later feature is about 18m in diameter, has a flat top approximately 10m across and stands 1.8m high. The investigation of the site in 1995 revealed that it was constructed in a similar manner to the main mound. It is surrounded by a ditch, now largely infilled, but which is still clearly visible as an earthwork on its western side where it is approximately 6m wide and 0.3m deep. The position of the smaller mound and the nature of its construction suggests that it was probably built as the base for a watchtower, which was given additional protection by utilising the existing fortification. ->

-> The motte, and in particular the smaller mound, may have served as a prospect mound on which a summerhouse might have been built for the neighbouring manor house, now Manor Farm. A footbridge across the ditch, with a flight of steps up the main mound, provided a direct link between the castle site and the house. ->

-> A stone wall of 18th or 19th century date built to revet the eastern half of the motte and the stone steps are included in the scheduling. ->

-> The track that runs alongside the eastern part of the ditch and all fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included. <11>

Photographed during aerial photographic survey in 2010. <12>

No relevant documents associated with the castle seem to have survived, which is by no means uncommon for such sites. The site was visisted during the preparation of a heritage assessment of Manor Farm, West Felton, prepared in 2012. It is described as extremely overgrown. The moat appears to be srping-fed. The motte is built on a gentle west-facing slope and is circular in plan with a diameter of approx. 46m; the ditch varies in identifiable width from between 12m and 16m wide. At a height of approximately 3.2m the motte has a diameter of approximately 34m. At this level there is another shallow ditch around the narrower upper section of the motte, which is approximately 1.8m tall, 18m in diameter, with a flat top 10m in diameter. <13>

Described during an excursion undertaken by the Shropshire Archaeological Society in 1956. Described as a magnificient motte with a wet moat, lined with masonry. Interprets two baileys on the site: ‘One bailey enclosed the Church, the other the castle buildings on the site of the present farmhouse' [see PRN 32000]. <14>

In association with development at the adjacent farm, in 2016, remediation work was carried out on the motte, under archaeological supervision. This included scrub clearance and tree and general management, and a bridge linking the motte to a new unit on the development site. Broadleaf was cut down from the top of the earthwork and dense brambles removed from the edge of the monument. A pine and a few other mature trees were retained. This clearance work highlighted the damage caused to the mound by badger activity. It also exposed a sandstone wall on the eastern side of the motte and stone steps that lead down to the moat opposite the Grade II Listed barn [PRN 13153], to the site of a former timber footbridge. A watching brief was also taken in an area to the NE of the motte as part of the development. <15>


[00]SSA20722 - Card index: Shropshire County Council SMR. Site and Monuments Record (SMR) cards. SMR record cards. SMR Card for PRN SA 01124.
[01b]SSA31554 - Site visit report: Ordnance Survey Field Investigator. Various. NRHE: Ordnance Survey Field Investigators Comments. F1 MHB 25-NOV-71.
[01a]SSA3632 - Article in serial: Anon. 1957/ 1960. Ellesmere Annual Excursion 1957. Trans Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Vol 56. p3. p3.
[01]SSA4396 - Card index: Ordnance Survey. 1971. Ordnance Survey Record Card SJ32NW6. Ordnance Survey record cards. SJ32NW6.
[02]SSA16825 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1986-Jan-03. CPAT 86/01/0028 to 0029 (2 photos).
[03a]SSA178 - Volume: Victoria County History. 1908. Victoria County History 1. Victoria County History of Shropshire. Vol 1. p389.
[03]SSA4399 - Field Monument Warden Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (HBMC). 1983. Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 13707.
[04]SSA4400 - Site visit report: Watson Michael D. 1983-Jun-29. Visit Notes, 29/06/1983.
[05]SSA4398 - Photograph: Watson Michael D. 1983. West Felton Motte. Colour.
[06]SSA4397 - Scheduled Monument notification: English Heritage. Map of Scheduled area.
[07]SSA20084 - TEXT: Horton Wendy B. 1990/ 1991. MPP Evaluation File.
[08]SSA4395 - Watching brief report: Hannaford Hugh R. 1995. The motte at West Felton: archaeological recording and monitoring of earthwork repairs. SCCAS Rep. 76.
[09]SSA20768 - Excavation report: Tavener Nick. 2002. The Old Rectory, West Felton, Shropshire: report on an archaeological evaluation. Marches Archaeology Series. 232.
[10]SSA21101 - Watching brief report: Kenney Jane. 2003. The Old Rectory, West Felton, Shropshire: report on an archaeological watching brief. Marches Archaeology Series. 279.
[11]SSA21348 - Scheduled Monument notification: English Heritage. 2000. Scheduling Papers (Affirmation, 03/07/2000). 33811.
[12]SSA26076 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2010-Jan-7. SA1001_036 to SA1001_040 (5 photos) Flight: 10_SA_01. Colour. Digital.
[13]SSA28356 - Deskbased survey report: Morriss Richard K. 2012. Manor Farm, West Felton, Shropshire: a heritage statement. Mercian Heritage Series. 599.
[14]SSA493 - Volume: Anon. 1957/ 1960. Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society. Transactions Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Vol 56. p.3.
[15]SSA30062 - Watching brief report: Frost Pat. 2017. Redevelopment at Manor Farm, Old Rectory Lane, West Felton, Shropshire: archaeological watching brief. Castlering Archaeol Rep. 497.
Date Last Edited:Aug 4 2021 10:59AM