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Whitehouse Camp, Michaelchurch Escley

In the civil parish of Michaelchurch Escley.
In the historic county of Herefordshire.
Modern Authority of Herefordshire.
1974 county of Hereford and Worcester.
Medieval County of Herefordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO29593567
Latitude 52.01497° Longitude -3.02735°

Whitehouse Camp, Michaelchurch Escley has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Earthwork and buried remains of a ringwork and bailey situated on the crest of the Cefn Ridge, between the River Monnow and Escley Brook. The ringwork remains include an earthen bank, enclosing a roughly oval area orientated NNW-SSE, with a crescentic bailey wrapped around it to the south, south west, and south east, and contiguous with it to the north. The ringwork bank averages c.4m wide and 1.2m high, however at the south east end it rises and widens, to form a sub-rectangular mound measuring c.8m north-south by 16m east-west, and c.2m high. The overall dimensions of the fortification are therefore c.38m x c.27m. The interior of the bailey is level whereas the surrounding ground slopes gently away in all directions, thus the bank is higher on the outside. Material for its construction will have been obtained from a surrounding ditch, which has since become infilled and is now longer visible as a surface feature. The mounded ringwork is flat topped and a fallen tree has revealed a section of a horizontal masonry revetment which will have supported the sides of the mound. There may originally have been a similar revetment around the circuit of the bailey. To the north there is a gap in the ringwork bank which may have been the original entrance. There are now no surface remains of the gateway, which was probably of timber construction, and evidence for this will survive within the terminals of the bank. The bailey has been formed by terracing the natural slope to enclose an area measuring c.58m north-south and c.55m east-west within an artificial scarp. The scarp is now visible as a slight earthwork, c.0.3m high on the south and west sides, and up to 1m to the north east and east where the natural slope is somewhat steeper. The bailey scarp coincides with the ringwork in the north to either side of the entrance. In the south west quarter the scarp has been modified by the Cefn Track which now appears as a slightly sunken lane with boundary banks to either side, running south east-north west along the Cefn Ridge. The ringwork and bailey is of relatively slight construction, suggesting the site was chosen as a temporary military outpost or defended homestead rather than a permanently occupied stronghold. Its defences will have consisted of timber palisades around the ringwork bank, and along the top of the bailey scarp, evidence for which will survive below the surface. (Scheduling Report)

The low mound represents a fortified-site of late construction date, probably associated with land tenure, held for part of a knight's fee. The dating relies on the shape of the mound, the large surface area of the top, the lack of bailey and the lack of defence. (Phillips 2005)

Shoesmith calls this a 'miniature motte and bailey' and considers it a defended homestead, rather than a castle. Strategic position on ridge route, overlooking two valley routes and slight pass between the two valleys.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:52

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