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Ratcliffe Culey

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SP32749941
Latitude 52.59151° Longitude -1.51797°

Ratcliffe Culey has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


South-east of the Sence Brook, within a field immediately to the east of the church is a well defined mount and fosse of very moderate dimensions. The mount is nearly circular with a gradual escarpment of 19 ft. and is surrounded by a fosse, distinct but very shallow, which latter condition is due to the action of the plough. (VCH) "A good example of a moated site at Ratcliffe Culey, where there is a circular or an oval site within a deep moat.....This is probably an early example, perhaps dating from the time of John (1199-1216)." (Hoskins) Shape and position consistent with a castle mount, but the mound itself is no higher than the surrounding ground. (Field Investigators Comments-C F Wardale/21-FEB-1959/Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigator) Not a castle mound. This is a sub-circular moat (with perhaps some affinity to a ring-castle), the ditch attaining a max depth of 1.7m. The enclosed island shows no surface evidence of a former structure. (Field Investigators Comments-F D Colquhoun/07-JUL-1972/Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigator) Moat and fishponds at Ratcliffe Culey. The oval-shaped, dry moated site measures 50m x 40m overall. The moat ditch is deepest on the south side, approximately 2.5m deep and 12m wide, and has traces of an outer bank on this side. A hollow way runs between the north-west side of the moat and the road to the church (scheduling report). (PastScape)

King rejects this site as merely a homestead moat. However, this is in a typical position for an early manorial centre and it is an oval shaped moat and clearly more than a homestead moat. Damage by plough makes interpretation of the site difficult but dating evidence would be useful. Was this a Saxon thegnal burh? Did the de Culey's, who held the manor from at least the late C12 until the mid C14, alter the site? Does the Culey suffix to the village suggest a significant residence here?
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:08

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