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Hopton Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Hopton Corbet; Opetune

In the civil parish of Hopton Castle.
In the historic county of Shropshire.
Modern Authority of Shropshire.
1974 county of Shropshire.
Medieval County of Shropshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO36707794
Latitude 52.39583° Longitude -2.93189°

Hopton Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Hopton Castle tower keep castle survives well, is well documented and represents one of the finest examples of its class in the county. The motte and bailey earthworks remain largely undisturbed and will contain stratified archaeological information concerning both their method and date of construction and evidence of occupation on the site. The keep, although in ruinous condition, is a valuable example of 14th century castle architecture. The foundations of the domestic buildings associated with the occupation of the castle, together with evidence of the various processes carried out within the castle confines, will survive within the interior of the baileys. Environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed will be preserved in the fill of the various ditches and on the old land surfaces sealed beneath the motte and the various ramparts. Organic material may survive in the wet areas of the bailey ditch and fishpond. Such complex motte and bailey castles contribute valuable information concerning the rural settlement pattern, economy, social organisation and military technology of the medieval period.
The monument includes Hopton Castle, a well defined tower keep castle built on a motte and bailey situated at the confluence of two streams. The castle stands on slightly raised ground bounded around the north, east and south sides by natural watercourses. It includes a castle mound or motte and two baileys; the motte is surmounted by a rectangular stone keep, which is also a Listed Building Grade I. The motte is roughly circular in plan with a base diameter of 33m and rises 2m above the surrounding ground surface to a flat summit 20m in diameter. The substantial remains of a 14th century rectangular masonry keep stand on the summit of the motte. It has doorways in its north and west sides, the west door being designed to give access to the inner bailey. The remains of a causeway project into the motte ditch below the west door, this may represent the site of a drawbridge. A ditch up to 8m wide and 1m deep surrounds the motte and remains visible as an earthwork throughout most of its circuit. A section some 20m long around the north east side has been largely eroded away, probably as a result of periodic flooding by the stream to the north. A well defined scarp averaging 1m in height separates the site from this stream, creating a flat raised area between the motte and the stream. The remains of a building, comprising a circular platform 10m in diameter with its centre hollowed to a depth of 0.5m, lies in the south east corner of this level area. There are two bailey enclosures attached to the motte, these being designed to contain and protect the domestic buildings associated with the castle. The roughly rectangular inner bailey lies immediately to the west of the motte and has maximum internal dimensions of 40m north to south by 30m east to west. It is bounded on all sides by a well defined scarp falling to a ditch 12m wide and 2.6m deep. A concentration of stone around the upper edge of the bailey scarp suggests that it was originally surmounted by a curtain wall. A 6m square embanked hollow, positioned at the south west corner of the bailey is believed to represent the site of a tower or turret. In the north east quadrant of the bailey are two rectangular hollows; they lie parallel to each other and are orientated roughly east to west. The more northerly has dimensions of 16m long by 6m wide, the southerly, which has the remains of a foundation wall visible in its north side, is 15m long by 8m wide. Both are believed to represent the remains of rectangular domestic buildings associated with the occupation of the castle. A second, outer bailey, lies to the south and west of the motte and inner bailey, strengthening the defences around these sides. It is a raised platform 1.5m high, roughly L-shaped in plan which wraps around the motte and inner bailey. The longest arm is 130m east to west flanked along its south side by a substantial outer ditch 12m wide and between 1.7m and 2m deep. This ditch continues around the east end of the bailey, turning around the north side to separate the bailey from the motte and platform to the north. Here the ditch is widened to create a rectangular water-filled fishpond 50m east to west by 17m wide and averaging 2m in depth. This is linked at its western end by a channel 18m long and 6m wide to the ditch of the motte and inner bailey. The shorter arm of the outer bailey extends north for 70m from the west end of the longer arm and has no visible trace of an outer ditch. (Scheduling Report)

Hopton Castle, the Opetune of Domesday. A ruined keep occupies the summit of a ditched mound. To the west and abutting the motte is a small inner bailey, with a larger and later outer bailey to the south and west surrounded by a moat, now partially destroyed. (No information on the "site of chapel?" shown on plan. A mound is shown at this point on OS 25" 1884.) (VCH 1908).
Hopton Castle is generally as described above. It is situated in water meadows on the S bank of a small stream. The keep is 14.0m by 12.0m in size and has a small projecting stair tower at the SW corner. The entrance is in the N side through a pointed arched doorway. The motte stands 2.0m above the outside ground level, and has a base diameter of 32.0m. The surrounding ditch, largely eroded away on the NE side (? by flooding) is 8.0m in width and up to 1.0m in depth. A second doorway in the W side of the keep probably gave access to the inner bailey. Below it a causeway projects into the motte ditch. The inner bailey measures, internally, 35.0m N-S by 30.0m transversely. It contains the site of two buildings, indicated by rectangular hollows, about 15.0m in length and 6.0 to 7.0m in width, orientated E-W. Within the southernmost hollow, foundation remains of a N side wall are exposed.
Heavy scatters of stone around the perimeter suggest the bailey to have been enclosed with a curtain wall and at the SW corner is the site of a tower or turret, indicated by an embanked hollow, 6.0m square. The enclosing ditch is 12.0m in width and is up to 2.7m in depth.
The outer bailey is L-shaped and lies to the W and S of the inner bailey. The W side is 70.0m in length, the S side is 130.0m in length. The bailey contains no visible features. A ditch on the S side is cut into a gentle N-facing slope and is 12.0m in width, and from 1.7 to 2.0m in depth. It continues around the E end of the bailey and is partly waterfilled on the N side, where it possibly served as a fishpond, the depression being rectangular, 50.0m in length, 17.0m in width, 2.0m in depth. At the W end of this depression, it links up with the motte and inner bailey ditches. A line of low scarps along the N and E sides of the site were probably constructed to minimise flooding by the stream, though it would probably have been directed by leats into the ditches. There is nothing to be seen at the site of chapel noted by VCH on their plan (F1 ASP 19-OCT-73). (PastScape)

Hopton was a quite small manor when recorded in Domesday, one of many held as overloard by Picot de Say. The original motte represents the home of a knight owing castle-guard to Clun Castle. The tenant took the name Hopton as the family name and the tenancy was held for the quite considerable service of two knights-fee including a permanently resident soldier at Clun. The Hopton's were tenants of Broadward and Coston, Hopton Castle was their caput and it's relative large size represents this status. The important and military status of the family was later expressed in the building of, what in effect is, a modest tower house in the form of a Norman great tower on the motte.
Some of the earthworks around the tower are of C17 Civil War date. Some appear to be the result of collapsed earth-filled wicker gabions
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling   Listing   I. O. E.
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Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:32

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