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Clungunford Motte

in the Civil Parish of Clungunford, Shropshire, England
SO39567878

Text and photographs copyright by Philip Davis

Medieval motte castle surviving as an earthwork. The mutilated remains of a small motte within a meadow with a base diameter of about 28m and a maximum height of 3.2m. The mound has been extensively quarried on the east and south sides. On the east side are traces of what may have been a ditch, 10m in width and 0.3m deep, which connects with a stream on the south side. Excavations revealed layers of ash with pottery and fragments of a stone mortar.

This is usual said to have been built to guard the nearby crossing of the River Clun. Another small motte is similarly placed at the river crossings at Broadward Hall a mile south (but on the other river bank). However, other nearby crossing point do not appear to be associated with castles and it may be that if a manor spread across both sides of a river the most appropriate place for a manorial centre would be at the crossing joining two halves of a manor.

Very little is really known about this small earthwork castles of which there are many in the Welsh Marches. They are generally supposed to be the homes of minor knights granted the local manor in return for military service. One can imagine a man with a mix of old and new armor and weapons and a couple of fair horses and a couple of baggage nags accompanied by a squire, in old second hand armor, the son of a similar knight from a nearby manor (His own sons being squires to other knights in the fashion of the time - removed from the 'weakening' influence of their mother) who makes his living from his own farm, the work provided by feudal serfs, and from the occasional spoils of war with the Welsh (Probably little more than the odd cow). In this area fashion, and to some extent the threat of a raid from Wales, means he builds a small timber tower on a small mound as a display of his status and retreat for his family although generally they live in a nearby hall probably only slightly larger than that of better off serfs in the village. He spend a couple of months a year away doing service for his lord at a castle like Clun or Wigmore during which he might ride out into Wales. Otherwise he manages his farm, sorts out the local disputes in the village in the manorial court and visits other local knights to talk politics and arrange weddings for his children.

Easily accessible behind the parish church. The motte is a Scheduled Monument.


References

  • Salter, Mike, 2001 (2edn), The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire (Malvern).
  • Jackson, M.J.,1988, Castles of Shropshire (Shrewsbury: Shropshire Libraries) p. 21.
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum Vol2 (London: Kraus) p. 424.
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2edn), Norman Castles of Britain (John Baker) p. 148.
  • Rees, W., 1933, Historical map of South Wales and the Borders in the C14.
  • Page, Wm. (ed), 1908, VCH Shropshire Vol1 p. 384-5.
  • Hartshorne, C. H., 1841, Salopia Antiqua p. 102-6.
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1963, 'Early castles in Wales and the Marches: a preliminary list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol 112 p. 77-124.
  • Rocke, T.O., 1874, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol5 p. 123-7.
  • Rocke, T.O., 1863, Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol 19 p. 317-9, 112.

     

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