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Oswestry Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Album Monasterium; Blancminster; Blankmouster; Blancmustier; Croes Oswald; L'Oeuvre; L'uvre; Castle Loure; Luure; Luvre; Lvvre: Castle Philip; Oswaldestre; Meresberie

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ29062981
Latitude 52.86111° Longitude -3.05524°

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

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law*.


The remains of the motte, forming part of the motte and bailey castle in Oswestry, survive well. The motte, together with the area of the bailey indicated by street names, provides evidence of the changing nature of the military and economic conditions during the medieval and post-medieval periods which shaped the town. Episodes in the history of the castle and the town are well documented. In addition to the remnants of the stone keep, buried remains of earlier structures that stood on the motte will survive. The surviving structural, artefactual and organic remains, together with the historical sources, will provide valuable evidence about the activities and the lifestyle of the inhabitants of the castle. Archaeological investigation undertaken in 1988 has helped to demonstrate the nature and extent of the buried remains of the castle and the adjoining part of the town wall. The monument is a significant public amenity and has considerable educational value. It remains a prominent feature within the landscape.
The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte, which was originally part of a motte and bailey castle, the ruins of a stone keep built upon its summit and an adjoining portion of the town wall. The castle is referred to as 'castelle Lurve' in the Domesday Survey and was constructed by Reginald, Sheriff of Shropshire. Throughout the medieval period the estate of Maesbury (Oswestry) was held by the FitzAlan family, who developed their landholding into the marcher lordship of Oswestry by the late 12th century. The castle was never used as a principle residence of the FitzAlans, but served as a depot for major campaigns against the Welsh, as well as forming the base for a defensive force of light cavalry. The castle was strengthened at the end of the 13th century, but its military significance declined shortly afterwards, although it was used to muster Welsh troops for the war in France in the 14th and 15th centuries. The castle was the scene of a parliament held by Richard II in 1398. It was garrisoned by Royalist troops during the Civil War, but was slighted by Cromwellian forces in 1644, and had been largely demolished by about 1650. A natural isolated oval mound, probably of glacial origin, has been adopted and utilised to form the motte. It is about 12m high and measures approximately 52m by 72m at its base. Upon the summit and around the top are the in situ and collapsed remnants of the stone keep possibly dating to the 13th century, replacing earlier structures probably built of timber. The remains of the keep are a Listed Building Grade II. The internal layout of the keep is not known, but an inventory compiled in 1398 notes a great chamber, a middle chamber and a high chamber, the Constables Hall, a wardrobe, a chapel dedicated to St Nicholas, a kitchen, larder and buttery. From the evidence of the standing fabric it is considered that the keep was a square or rectangular structure. To the south east of the keep are the remains of a probable bastion, largely rebuilt in the late 19th century. It is a Listed Building Grade II and is included in the scheduling. The base of the mound is defined by substantial revetment walls of probable late 19th century date, incorporating two gate piers removed from one of the former town gates known as the Beatrice Gate. These walls and the gate piers are also Listed Grade II and included in the scheduling. The castle bailey, which lies to the south of the motte, probably served as the initial focus for the development of the town. The town had certainly grown beyond the original limits of the castle bailey before the second half of the 13th century when the town walls were constructed. The location of the bailey is recorded in the street names Bailey Street and Bailey Head, although its exact extent is not certain and is therefore not included in the scheduling. An archaeological excavation on top of the motte undertaken in 1988 revealed a metre thick layer of demolition rubble dating to the 17th century, whilst in a trench dug at the base of the mound a small section of a substantial wall, thought to be part of the 13th century town defences, was found. This wall is approximately 2m wide, aligned south west-north east, and is built of mortared rubble with its eastern side faced with dressed sandstone blocks. An opening though the wall was uncovered and is believed to mark the position of an original postern gate. The wall would appear to overlie the remains of the motte ditch and it thus post-dates the construction of the motte. This section of the town wall has been consolidated and remains have been exposed. In the late 19th century the castle mound was extensively landscaped in order to create a public pleasure ground. The earliest large scale Ordnance Survey map published in 1874 shows a series of terraces defining a spiralling path around the mound. This scheme formed the basis of the subsequent landscaping which included the construction of a stone wall around the top of mound. All these structural features are included in the scheduling. (Scheduling Report)

Although Oswestry was a significant castle of the welsh marches generally its garrison in the C12 consisted of 1 knight, 2 porters and 2 watchmen although it could be increased in times of trouble but up to a hundred servientes (sergeants - man at arms) (see Suppe 1984).
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:52

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