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Shackerstone Motte

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SK37480685
Latitude 52.65812° Longitude -1.44721°

Shackerstone Motte has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Medieval motte with a fishpond and later formal garden surviving as earthworks. The motte measures 40m in diameter at the base and has a flat area 20m across on the top and is approximately 4.5m high from the bottom of the ditch. The ditch encircles the mound with the exception of a 12m stretch on the south west and is up to 2m deep and 6m wide on the south east side and 1m deep and 8m wide on the north side. A water filled fishpond 70m long and 12m wide is also present along with formal garden earthworks relating to a hall which stood on the site. (PastScape)

The key element of the site is a large flat-topped mound. This has a base diameter of c . 75m and summit of c . 35m diameter, characterised by a prominent ‘step’ or terrace on its southern face. A former associated ditch survives as a minor depression encircling the feature. A complex of linear and curvilinear scarps and banks in the immediate environs of the mound can be rationalised as a large, low platform of irregular profile immediately south (max. dimensions c . 160 x 90m), and a smaller, more regular terrace to the north ( c .110 x 45m). A further series of weak scarps and terraces further north form a sub-regular pattern of closes. Although traditionally ascribed as an early castle earthwork, archaeological and landscape evidence combines to suggest that it is rather a formal garden feature erected in the immediate vicinity of Shackerstone Hall.
Excavation: A trench through the mound, c . lm in width was dug by ARP men in 1940, showing the feature to comprise of a central dome-shaped core of soil. The remains of a central ‘post’ c . 0.4m in diameter were uncovered, in addition to a ‘rectangular chamber’ within the mound; artefacts recovered include dark brown wares of probable 18th-century date found within the topsoil and considerable deposits of charcoal from within the body of the mound. (Creighton 1998)

A large, flat topped mound c.40m in diameter, with rectilinear ditches running at right angles to the north and east lies north of the church. Page (1907, 261) records a surrounding ditch 22 feet wide and describes a much destroyed but well fortified bailey. Hoskins (1946, 9) describes it as a good example of a 12th century castle. In 1940 Frank Cotterill visited the site after a 3 1/2 foot trench and square chamber were dug through the mound for an anti-aircraft position. No finds were made but the remains of a central wooden post 1 foot 2 inches in diameter were recorded. Cantor (1978, 39) knew of no records for a castle here and Creighton (1997, 27) although originally identifying the earthwork as a post-medieval prospect mound changed his attribution to a castle on the basis of cartographic evidence from Peter Foss, including a map of 1785 associated with the construction of the Ashby Canal making this site more likely to be a motte and bailey castle (Creighton 1998, 154) {sic This ref. is incorrect}. (Leicestershire and Rutland HER citing Knox 2015)

Creighton writes prospect mound with little circumstantial evidence that it is a reused motte. However, mound is in village and 50m from church (which is mentioned in Domesday) on the bases of location and the fact the ditches around the mound are deep and of labour greater than usual for a prospect mound, Gatehouse finds it hard to dismiss this site. The site was certainly used as a prospect mound and amay have had a summer house built upon it and the excavation finds do confirm that use but do not exclude earlier construction. The row of houses which now separate the mound from the church lie on the site of Hall family mansion built c. 1660 but this might well have been a rebuilding of an earlier manorial hall in the bailey of a castle and the various episodes of building and demolition could well have destroyed any evidence for an early bailey.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
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This record last updated 15/08/2017 15:56:48

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