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Warrington Mote Hill

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Moat Hill; The Mount

In the civil parish of Warrington.
In the historic county of Lancashire.
Modern Authority of Warrington.
1974 county of Cheshire.
Medieval County of Lancashire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ61628851
Latitude 53.39202° Longitude -2.57857°

Warrington Mote Hill has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are no visible remains.


The Mount, also known as the Mote or Moat Hill, Warrington, was the largest motte and bailey castle in Lancashire. (VCH 1908) It was placed on a slight eminence, raised about thirty feet above sea-level and approx. 250 yards from the north bank of the Mersey. It commanded the ancient ford and routes to it There is little doubt that the castle was the residence of the manorial lords of Warrington until their removal to Bewsey Hall. The castle is mentioned as such in 1228, when William Pincerna was granted timber for its repair (VCH 1907) but by about 1587 it is referred to as the ".. scyte of the manor ... decayed and no byldings thereupon..." (Beamont).
Thereafter, there are few literary references to the history of the site until the 18/19th c. when it is variously described as a 'tumulus' or 'Roman botontinus' (Watkin).
The only authoritative description of the site is that given in the VCH for 1908 when there were few remains of the earthworks - only the northern part of the motte mound and ditch and a vague outline of the ditch of the bailey on the northeast of the motte. Earlier accounts indicate that the mound was oval, 162 feet NW-SE and 129 feet NE-SE, and 9 feet high, with a flat top, 90 feet in diameter. A ditch, partly water filled, once surrounded the motte. The bailey was formed by a ditch, averaging 6 feet deep in 1908, but as late as 1819 there had been traces of a substantial rampart-bank. The mound was excavated in 1832. On its top was a circular depression,c.1. foot deep, filled with carbonized reeds, straw and brushwood mixed with bones and decayed animal refuse. A pit of concial form contained ashes and burnt bones. Some distance from this fireplace, a well was found, lined with wood, and filled with earth. In the Stratum of animal and vegetable matter at the bottom, were found early Md. potsherds, part of a horse-shoe, a curved knife-blade said to be Saxon, a fragment of a quern, iron nails, a bronze fibula described as Saxon, Roman amphora sherds, an earthenware button, fused lead and two crude chess pieces of jet. These latter have attracted a great number of literary references and have been variously described to the 9th, 10th and 12th c., (Arch. Journal 1852, 1853, 1856) but there is not much evidence for a pre-Norman dating (VCH 1906).
Above the hollow was a layer of vegetable soil, with boulder-stones forming a rough pavement on it. A silver penny of Henry III was associated with this pavement. Above the stones was a layer of clay, earth and sand, three feet thick containing a number of 17th c. military and other relics. Tradition has always said that the mound was raised higher by the parliamentarians besieging the town in 1643 to place a cannon on it, and these finds confirm it. No evidence to suggest that stone walling replaced the original wooden palisading was found. Several massive timber beams and a few squared stones were found in the mound but their original position is not recorded. In 1841 the site was partly levelled in erecting school-buildings and was further mutilated in 1851 when the school was enlarged. The school was removed in 1905.
There are no extant remains of the motte and bailey. The site is occupied by a public park and waste ground marking the area where the Clergy Orphan's School formerly stood.
A small, modern mound, with stone walling around the base, was erected at SJ 6162 8851 to mark the site of the motte, by Warrington Corporation. The finds made in 1832 are stored in Warrington Museum with the exception of the 'curved knife-blade': Accn. Nos. 1559-85 and 832-3. A copper boss was found in 1929 in making tennis courts here (F1 RWE 21-OCT-60).
An exploratory excavation to the east of St. Elpphin's church, revealed that the motte, composed of sand within a retaining wall of turf backed with clay had been destroyed to within one foot of the original peat ground surface. The ditches, 110ft. wide, had been retained by timber piling. The wet conditions, the 19th century destruction and the overlying build-up rendered the excavations unsatisfactory in terms of finds and structures (Hill 1972). (PastScape)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:29

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