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Kilpeck Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Cilpedec; Chipcete

In the civil parish of Kilpeck.
In the historic county of Herefordshire.
Modern Authority of Herefordshire.
1974 county of Hereford and Worcester.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO44423046
Latitude 51.97013° Longitude -2.81063°

Kilpeck Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law*.


Motte and five baileys with strong counterscarp banks above combe to south, and flanking baileys to north-west and south-east and rectangular village enclosure of bank and ditch. Parts of a polygonal rubble shell-wall remain on the motte, with a round-headed fireplace and circular flue to the north, two drains to the east and an interior cross-wall. The shell may have been circular internally, it has a sloping external plinth. Trial excavations in 1982 revealed seven periods of occupation with pottery giving a date range from C12-C15. Excavation revealed evidence of both timber and stone buildings, and a metalled yard or trackway, overlying the tail of the rampart. (PastScape)

Kilpeck is 7-8 miles south-west of Hereford. The earthworks of the castle lie between the small ornate church of c. 1140 to the east and a hollow to the west. The graveyard of the nearby church is now beginning to encroach on the castle site. The earthworks consist of a motte with a base diameter of c. 50m, rising 8m to a summit 28m in diameter with a large kidney-shaped inner bailey to the east, between the castle and the settlement. The motte is completely surrounded by a ditch. The inner bailey has the remains of a rampart along its north and south sides. It was entered from the south-east where a gap in the rampart is flanked on one side by a small mound, perhaps once a small gatehouse. There are two outer baileys which survive on the south and west, surrounded by either ditches or scarps. The Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England (Inventory of the Historic Monuments of Herefordshire, Volume I: South-West, 1931, p. 158) noted a third outer bailey to the north when it surveyed the site, but this has since been destroyed. The outer bailey is roughly square and lies to the south. It has an outer ditch and the remains of a rampart on its north and south sides. The bailey is entered from the south-west, where there is a gap in the rampart surrounded by a small mound, which could cover the remains of a gatehouse. On the motte summit are two fragments of a shell keep wall about 2m thick and 5m high. The shell keep is thought to be polygonal in shape and perhaps large enough to have had a wall walk. This wall would have enclosed an area c.70m-80m in diameter. A deep well has also been discovered within. The remains of two round-backed fireplace flues, of the former internal lean-to buildings, are also visible within the wall fragments. On the west of the site a stream has been dammed by a continuation of the north bank of the western outer bailey; this was presumably intended to form a fishpond. (Herefordshire Through Time)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling   Listing   I. O. E.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Shoesmith, Ron, 2009 (Rev edn.), Castles and Moated Sites of Herefordshire (Logaston Press) p. 174-88
      Phillips, Neil, 2005, Earthwork Castles of Gwent and Ergyng AD 1050-1250 (University of Wales) p. 213-15 Download from ADS
      Salter, Mike, 2000, Castles of Herefordshire and Worcestershire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 44 (plan)
      Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 99
      Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 345, 356
      Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 136-38
      Stirling-Brown, R., 1989, Herefordshire Castles (privately published) p. 9
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 207
      Sawle, J., 1982, Excavations at Kilpeck Castle, 1982: an interim report (Hereford and Worcester County Council)
      1981, Herefordshire Countryside Treasures (Hereford and Worcester County Council) p. 66
      Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 248
      Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 216
      Pevsner, N., 1963, Buildings of England: Herefordshire p. 203
      RCHME, 1931, An inventory of the historical monuments in Herefordshire Vol. 1: south-west p. 158-9 No. 2 (plan)
      Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 148
      Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
      Chalkley Gould, 1908, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Herefordshire Vol. 1 p. 240 (plan)
      Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 110-11 online copy
      Clark, G.T., 1884, Mediaeval Military Architecture in England (Wyman and Sons) Vol. 2 p. 162-8 online copy
      Robinson, C.J., 1869, The Castles of Herefordshire and Their Lords (London: Longman) p. 80-4 online copy
  • Periodical Articles
    • 2006, Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club Vol. 54 p. 113-4
      Creighton, O.H., 2004, ''The Rich Man in his Castle, The Poor Man at His Gate': Castle Baileys and Settlement Patterns in Norman England' Château Gaillard Vol. 21 p. 25-36
      Impey, E., 1997, 'The buildings on the motte at Kilpeck Castle, Herefordshire' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 146 p. 101-8
      Shoesmith, Ron, (ed), 1992, 'Excavations at Kilpeck, Herefordshire' Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club Vol. 47.2 p. 162-209
      Halliwell, P.R. (ed), 1990, Herefordshire Archaeological News Vol. 53 p. 14
      Thomas, A., 1989, Medieval Settlement Research Group Annual Report Vol. 4 p. 40 (small excavation report) online copy
      Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 314
      Shoesmith, Ron, 1982, 'Archaeology, 1982, Report of Sectional Recorder' Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club Vol. 44.1 p. 121-3
      Sawle, J., 1983, 'Kilpeck Castle, Hereford and Worcester' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 26 p. 100–2
      Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T.B., 1983, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1982' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 27 p. 180 download copy
      1982, Rescue News Vol. 27 p. 6
      Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
      Talbot, E.J., 1965, 'Kilpeck Castle' The Hundred-and-Twelfth Annual Meeting at Hereford, 1965, CAA 29
      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
      Bannister, 1927, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 82 p. 464-6
      Firmstone, E.R., 1913, 'The Origin of Kilpeck' Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club p. 131-5
      1887, 'Kilpeck Church, Castle and Priory, Third Field Meeting, July 29th, Ladies' Day' Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club p. 143-4 (plan)
      Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 205 online copy
      Clark, G.T., 1873, 'Kilpeck Castle' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 28 p. 50-8
  • Guidebooks
    • Guide to Kilpeck church and castle (Hereford) (a reprint from RCHME 1931)
  • Primary (Medieval documents or transcriptions of such documents - This section is far from complete and the secondary sources should be consulted for full references.)
    • Hart, W.H.(ed), 1863, Historia et cartularium monasterii S. Petri Gloucestriae (Rolls Series 33) Vol. 1 p. 16
      Pipe Rolls 1189 (see Pipe Roll Society for published references)
      Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 246
  • Antiquarian (Histories and accounts from late medieval and early modern writers)
    • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
      Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 226, 228
      Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 185 online copy
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
    • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 2 online copy
      English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 19 online copy
      English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 19 online copy
      English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 17 online copy
      Dalwood, H. and Bryant, V. (eds), 2005, The Central Marches Historic Towns Survey 1992-6 Download online copy
      Dalwood, H., 1996, Archaeological Assessment of Kilpeck, Hereford and Worcester (Central Marches Historic Towns Survey, Herefordshire and Worcester County Council)
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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