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Hallaton Castle Hill Camp

In the civil parish of Hallaton.
In the historic county of Leicestershire.
Modern Authority of Leicestershire.
1974 county of Leicestershire.
Medieval County of Leicestershire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SP780967
Latitude 52.56242° Longitude -0.85063°

Hallaton Castle Hill Camp has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.

Description

Medieval motte and bailey with an additional rectangular enclosure surviving as an earthwork. Excavation revealed 'Norman' pottery, a quern stone, leather and wood objects and evidence of iron working. The conical motte is approximately 50m in diameter and 7.5m high from the bottom of the ditch, with a small flat area at the summit only a few metres across. The encircling ditch is up to 3m deep and 8m wide. The horse-shoe shaped bailey encloses an area of about 60m by 30m, and is bounded by a ditch up to 2m deep and 5m wide and an inner bank up to 2m high. An additional rectangular enclosure on the north of the motte, 35m by 25m, is defined by a ditch which survives in places to a depth of 0.75m. On the south side of the motte is a further ditch 5m wide with a bank 8m wide and 0.75m high which projects south for 40m. A series of depressions on the summit of the motte are the result of C19 excavations. (PastScape)

One of the best examples of a motte and bailey castle in Leicestershire, comprising a large conical motte and a horseshoe shaped bailey with possible entrance. To the north is a rectangular platform and to the south a bank and ditch (possibly to drain the motte ditch).
Castle Hill is one of the best examples of a motte and bailey castle in Leicestershire, comprising a large conical motte and to its north-west a horseshoe shaped bailey with possible entrance. To the north is a rectangular platform and to the south a bank and ditch (possibly to drain the motte ditch).
In the summer of 1877 railway engineers 'excavated' the site. They sank 2 shafts into the mound. 'Natural' was 17'6" down. Then a layer of peat and trees and bog earth, including 'heath and hazel, broom and furze, birch and oak', some with axe marks. In this were 'numerous splinters of bone', also pottery, leather shoes, a shoe-lace, charred wood and burnt stones. Above this were layers of clay, gravel and boulders with very abundant remains of wood fires together with burnt and blackened fragments of pots and also burnt and splintered bones. Also layers of ashy refuse up to 4" thick with iron objects, one gilded, bits of shoes, wooden bowls, a wooden shovel, squared stakes, a portion of ladder (?), 2 fragments of Roman pottery and large quantities of pottery, some crude 'British' through to salt glaze. The last 10-12 feet were clean, somewhat gravely yellow clay with many bones, and large pebbles and boulders. On top was a hard chalky stratum 15" thick. In the bailey 'numerous holes were sunk' and 'the abundance of melted iron ore, which with dross and charcoal and refuse showed plainly that it had been worked and wrought in situ'. 'Burnt red stones… surrounded by charcoal' were noted. Horse-shoes, buckles, rude ware, pipestones etc of last 200-300 years were noted. It was thought that it might have been used as a garden.
In 1943 Mr Gardner tried to excavate the mound and dug some small holes in the bailey. In the bailey he found 4 pottery sherds and a curved piece of iron. 2 sherds had light green glaze and they were called 'Norman'. There were also animal bones. (Leicestershire and Rutland HER)
Comments

Unusually 600m from church and most probably a new site. The chosen site has some defensive features but is overlooked to the west. Built not on the top of a rise, but on a false crest to be as visible from the old Leicester Way as possible. If this has been a purely defensive structure it would have been built on the true crest, where the defenders would still have full visibility but the interior of the bailey would be hidden from observation (allowing the size of a garrison to be kept secret). It actual location shows the castle off to the fullest as a display of wealth and status.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LIDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
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Photos >
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 14/07/2016 09:34:01

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