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Barby Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Hall Close

In the civil parish of Barby.
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: SP54387070
Latitude 52.33175° Longitude -1.20382°

Barby Castle has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Only six motte castles are known in Northamptonshire, and of these Barby is the best preserved example, with the motte mound being well-defined and surviving in good condition. The site also has considerable archaeological potential for the survival of environmental evidence from deposits sealed within the motte ditch and within the mound.
Barby motte castle stands in a commanding position north of the village of Barby. The motte is an oval flat topped mound standing about 3m above the surrounding land, with a basal diameter of about 60m. The motte is surrounded by a broad flat bottomed ditch which is up to 1.5m deep. There are traces of a bank 0.5m high on the south east side of the site but earthworks of the bank and ditch on the south of the site have been heavily disturbed by modern housing development. The site is at present under grass and is used for pasture. This site, known locally as Barby Castle, is considered to be the site of the medieval manor house which was located in a defensive position, and trial excavations within the motte ditch have revealed medieval pottery. In the early nineteenth century the field in which the monument stands was known as Hall Close. (Scheduling Report)

Site of Manor House (SP 543707), known as Barby Castle, lies on a prominent rounded hill of clay at 145 m. above OD, dominating the village centre. It is presumably the site of an early manor house which had some form of defence. The field in which it stands was known as Hall Close in the early 19th century (G. Baker, Hist. of Northants., I (1822–30), 264).
The site consists of an oval flat-topped mound only 1 m.–1.5 m. above the surrounding hillside, bounded by a broad flat-bottomed ditch 1 m. deep. There are slight traces of an outer bank on the S.E. side but modern housing development has encroached upon the ditch on the S. and has destroyed a section of this outer bank which is visible on air photographs. From the E. and W. sides of the site broad scarps up to 1 m. high extend in both directions. These are the boundaries of old enclosures, some still with traces of ridge-and-furrow within them. To the S. of the site, in an area now covered by modern housing, air photographs show a hollow-way which presumably once linked the manor house to the village. (RCHME)

It should be noted that the RCHME, despite describing this as 'an oval flat-topped mound', do not call this a motte. They appear to be suggesting this is a natural hill adapted as ditched manor house site, although such a description would apply to many castle sites accepted as motte castles. Nor did Downman see it as a 'mount castle'. However, it is scheduled as a motte. There is no bailey.
Despite being only 20m from a public road and being in a small village, the site is not accessible and not even viewable, being screened by houses, garden walls and thick garden hedges.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:07

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