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Monument details

HER Number:TR 14 SW 5
Type of record:Monument
Name:Castle Mound - motte and bailey


Motte and bailey in a wide valley bottom within the North Downs, north-west of Stowting church and mill. On the upper side is a stream which formerly may have fed the moat. Motte is about 10ft (3m) high above surrounding ground. Traces of the bailey are on the western side of the motte mound

Grid Reference:TR 1225 4201
Map Sheet:TR14SW

Monument Types

  • MOTTE AND BAILEY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1012099: MOTTE AND BAILEY CASTLE 200M NORTH-WEST OF STOWTING CHURCH; Scheduled Monument KENT 126

Full description

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(TR 12254200) Castle Mound (NR). (1) 'Castle Field', to the north west of Stowting Church, was (in 1845) surrounded by a double moat, partly filled up and planted with firs. (2) 'Stowting Castle' is scheduled as an ancient monument. (3) Motte and bailey castle. The motte and its ditch are tree covered and in excellent condition. There is a heavy scatter of flint and tile on the top of the mount. The bailey, of rather unusual form, is almost destroyed. Published 25' survey revised. (4) TR 12254200. The motte and bailey, known locally as Castle Mound, was examined without excavation as part of a general search of Stowting parish during the winter of 1971-2. Trenches were cut across the inner moat and into the mound at the North West in the early 1920s but no record was kept of the finds, which included pottery. The top of the motte was also disturbed during the 1939-45 war. (5)

From the National Heritage List for England:

The monument includes a motte and bailey castle which comprises a central steeply-sided earthen mound, or motte, surrounded by a broad ditch, with a second ditch defining an outer defended area, or bailey. The central motte has a roughly circular flat top measuring 35m in diameter. The large quantities of tile on the surface of the motte show that this area was used for buildings during the medieval period. Flint nodules embedded in the upper slapes of the mound suggest that the sides were paved in this material, perhaps simply for decorative effect. The ditch around the motte, which was supplied with water from the old course of the river on the western side, averages 12m in width and 1.3m in depth, although it has been partially infilled by soil eroded from the mound and would originally have been deeper. The position of the access bridge onto the motte is visible as a slight causeway across the moat on the north side. The bailey is a flat area of varying width which is raised above the level of the surrounding land by about 0.5m to reduce the risk of flooding. In this area would have been sited a wide range of buildings such as stables and workshops. The bailey was itself bounded by a second water-filled moat, this one 8-9m wide, which provided an outer line of defence. This moat has been infilled to a greater degree than the inner moat and survives only as a slight depression in the field on the northern side of the castle. The old river course on the western side was incorporated into this circuit and so is an integral part of the castle remains.
Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

The motte and bailey castle at Stowting survives particularly well, and since it shows no signs of having been seriously disturbed it is of high archaeological potential. The unusual lowland siting of the castle adds to the diversity of such monuments in Kent, where most of the known examples occupy high ground. (7)

<1> OS 6" 1961 (OS Card Reference). SKE48369.

<2> The Parish of Stowting 1845 5 (F Wrench) (OS Card Reference). SKE50464.

<3> AMs Eng and Wales 1961 59 (MOW) (OS Card Reference). SKE33030.

<4> F1 CFW 22 4 63 (OS Card Reference). SKE42694.

<5> Arch Cant 87 1972 232 (J Bradshaw) (OS Card Reference). SKE35902.

<6> Field report for monument TR 14 SW 5 - April, 1963 (Bibliographic reference). SKE5447.

<7> English Heritage, Register of Scheduled Monuments (Scheduling record). SKE16191.

Sources and further reading

Cross-ref. Source description
<1>OS Card Reference: OS 6" 1961.
<2>OS Card Reference: The Parish of Stowting 1845 5 (F Wrench).
<3>XYOS Card Reference: AMs Eng and Wales 1961 59 (MOW). [Mapped feature: #740 castle, ]
<4>OS Card Reference: F1 CFW 22 4 63.
<5>OS Card Reference: Arch Cant 87 1972 232 (J Bradshaw).
<6>Bibliographic reference: Field report for monument TR 14 SW 5 - April, 1963.
<7>Scheduling record: English Heritage. Register of Scheduled Monuments.