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Middleton mottes

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Middleton Higford

In the civil parish of Bitterley.
In the historic county of Shropshire.
Modern Authority of Shropshire.
1974 county of Shropshire.
Medieval County of Shropshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO53977735
Latitude 52.39224° Longitude -2.67786°

Middleton mottes has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The motte castle immediately north west of Middleton Chapel is an unusual example of this class of monument. The mound will retain evidence of its construction and the structures that were built upon it. Organic remains preserved within the buried ground surface under the mound and within the surrounding ditch will provide valuable evidence about the local environment and the use of the land before and after the motte castle was constructed. The importance of the monument is further enhanced by its association with the neighbouring 12th century chapel.
The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle constructed on a south east facing slope on high ground overlooking the valley of Ledwyche Brook. It lies to the north west of Middleton Chapel, built in the 12th century and not included in the scheduling. The motte was constructed of earth and is oval in plan, and measures approximately 18m by 32m and stands up to 3.5m high. It has a distinct stepped profile, which is believed to be original although the mound may have been subject to later modification. The south western half of the motte is about 2m higher than the portion to the north east, and the southern and eastern sides here are particularly steep. The size of the motte suggests it was only large enough to support a watch tower. Although no longer visible at ground level, a ditch from which material was quarried during the construction of the monument, surrounds the mound. This has become infilled over the years but will survive as a buried feature, approximately 5m wide. (Scheduling Report)

In the churchyard at Middleton are two mounds on which are standing two very old yew trees (JBAA 1868).
An oval tumulus reported by the Rev JR Burton 11th Dec 1924. He has an old photograph showing two mounds, one small (Lily Chitty 1926 map annotation).
Motte?. A most unlikely site for a barrow. OS Records comment 1968. This feature consists of a nearly circular mound some 20m across and 2.7m high, with a smaller, flat topped mound adjoining it to the NE. It has the appearance of a small motte, and stands upon the highest point of land hereabouts, with a commanding view in all directions (OS card entry 1968)
In July 1992 H Thomas visited the site to assess the damage being done to the earthworks by badgers. He found that there was no significant damage to the minor degraded mound in the Churchyard, but that damage was being done to the more prominent mound to the north of the Churchyard. He supported the use of humane methods to persuade the badgers to move on. He also suggested that the fence dividing the mound from the cornfield be moved a little to the north in order to prevent plough damage to the base of the mound and any former ditch (Thomas Harley O. 1992. Correspondence). (Shropshire HER)

Modest Domesday manor held by a named subtenant Berner of Higford who held a handful of manors the caput of which was Higford, near modern Telford. In Domesday the overlord of the manor was William Pantulf who's Shropshire caput was Wem but Eyton suggests the manor became attached to Ludlow Castle early in the C12. The manor was held for a knight's fee in 1255. This seems to have been a secondary residence of the Hugfords (the successor to Berner) and the mound, presumably topped by a small wooden tower, must have symbolised the military status of the family. There is nothing to suggest the house next to the mound was fortified. The mound in the church yard can not have been a motte of any form (The church was original a chapel attached to the church at Bitterley). Was this simply a tree stand, revetted with a wall or fence, to protect livestock from the poisonous yew or was it surmounted by a small timber bell tower?
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:29

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