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Alderton Motte

In the civil parish of Grafton Regis.
In the historic county of Northamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough.
Modern Authority of Northamptonshire.
1974 county of Northamptonshire.
Medieval County of Northamptonshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SP73874696
Latitude 52.11610° Longitude -0.92267°

Alderton Motte has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a Siege Work although is doubtful that it was such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


To the N.E. is a large circular mound surrounded by a broad ditch which was once water-filled. The flat top of the mound is level with the adjacent ground to the N. and E. and up to 1.75 m. high above the ground to the S. and W. The ditch is between 1 m. and 2.25 m. deep below the mound. It has been suggested that this mound might be a motte or a moated site (OS Record Cards) but it is much more likely to be a mount, contemporary with the rest of the garden. Such mounts raised above formal gardens were a normal feature of this period. (RCHME 1982)

A large house platform is situated at SP 73874696 surrounded by earthworks of former formal gardens incorporating fishponds; and a low flat mound with a wide surrounding ditch (probably the site of an earlier house). The adjacent area shows surface evidence of shrinkage and quarrying. The building of 1582 is a plain stone thatched cottage, not outstanding and rather insignificant. There are no indications of a building at the published site which falls within a former pond and is obviously incorrect (F1 FDC 28-AUG-1970).
Site of manor house and garden remains (SP 738470). The house of 1582 built by William Gorges is not shown on a map of 1726. Nothing remains today, its site is occupied by C19th barns and cartsheds. To the NE of these buildings an area of earthworks suggests terraced walks and formal flower beds. Further NE a flat topped mound surrounded by a ditch (interpreted as a house site by FDC) is probably a C16th garden feature. The ponds may be either medieval or C16th in date (RCHME).
The flat topped mound has recently been identified as a motte (Oral information). (PastScape)

To the rear of these houses are earthworks indicating the site of the manor house and gardens, including the remains of a circular feature that is presumably the 'moat' of 1650. This has been interpreted as a prospect mount, although recent archaeological investigation suggests that it may be a motte later re-used as part of the garden layout. (Kliene 2001) If so, there evidently was a later medieval manor house at Alderton, superseding the ringwork. (VCH 2002)

Scheduled as 'Motte NW of the parish church'.
PastScape record that flat top mound near to Alderton Ringwork Castle (The Mount) has recently been identified as a motte, although the RCHME comment suggest that identification is an old one dismissed by them. The symmetrical layout of this mound in the formal garden of C16-C19 manor house makes this look like a prospect mound.
1. If it were a motte it would be isolated from the ringwork and not connected by any form of visible defensive work.
2. The Mount was occupied as a residence well into the C14 well past the date of motte building.
3. Nothing in the tenurial history suggests two manors in Alderton but it is clear the manor house was moved to a site west of The Mount, probably in the C15/C16.
4. There is nothing to suggest any siege here.
The mound is not part of The Mount; it is not a successor site; it was not a different manor site; it was not a siege work. What the archaeological investigation that showed it to be a motte was in unknown to Gatehouse but it has not been published in a journal of record. The new identification of this mound as a motte (as opposed to the earlier identification made by the OS archaeologists, possibly dating back to the 1940s, when prospect mounds were little understood) appears to be made in a book by J.S. Kliene who does not appear to be a field archaeologist and certainly is not a castle studies expert (However the historians of the VCH did see sufficient value in this book to reference it). The scheduling of the site as a motte is an old one probably based on the OS records. The suggestion by the experienced field archaeologists of the RCHME that this is most likely a prospect mound seems entirely reasonable.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

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