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Sandford Castle Mound

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ58113431
Latitude 52.90459° Longitude -2.62420°

Sandford Castle Mound has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Although partially disturbed by the insertion of the reservoir and the overflow pond, the motte castle 100m north of Sandford Hall remains a good example of this class of monument, which was incorporated into a post-medieval landscaped garden. The motte will retain evidence of its constuction and the buried remains of parts of the structures that once occupied the summit. Organic remains preserved within the buried ground surface under the mound and within the surrounding ditch will provide valuable evidence about the local environment and the use of the land before and after the motte castle was constructed.
The later use of the motte during the post-medieval period as a garden feature associated with the timber-framed mansion and the present hall further enhances the importance of the monument.
The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle, later used as a prospect mound, constructed on level ground and occupying a commanding position in an area of gently undulating land. It lies within the grounds of Sandford Hall, built in late 18th century, which replaced a timber-framed mansion nearby. Sixty metres to the east of the mound is Sandford Pool, a mill pond, which in the medieval period served as a fishpond. As there is no direct relationship between the pond and the castle, the pond is not included in the scheduling.
The steep-sided circular earthen motte measures approximately 25m in diameter at its base, about 7m across the top, and stands to a height of 5.7m. The size of the motte indicates it was only large enough to support a small structure such as a watch tower. Although no longer visible at ground level, a ditch, from which material was quarried during the construction of the monument, surrounds the mound. This has become infilled over the years and survives as a buried feature approximately 5m wide.
The motte is shown on an estate map of about 1775, planted with trees or bushes, and was used as a prospect mound, a garden feature on which a summer house may have been constructed. The motte was probably first used in this way when the gardens associated with the timber-framed mansion were originally laid out. A spiral path, partly cutting into the side of the motte, provides access to the summit.
In 1920 a circular concrete-built reservoir, 3m in diameter, was built into the top of the motte. It supplied drinking water to the nearby hall, while a small pond at the base of the mound to the south was used as an overflow. (Scheduling Report)

An extremely small mound close to a stream which forms a large lake on its western side, and supplies a series of ponds on its north, close to Sandford Hall (VCH 1908).
Considered to be a barrow but not confirmed (OS record book).
Whitfield suggests that it is probably a Jacobean garden mound as there is still a summerhouse on top (Annotated map record. undated, L.F. Chitty).
A Medieval fishpond, still water filled, lies to the west of the mound. The road from Newport to Whitchurch was diverted sometime after 1335 by Richard de Sandford in order to enlarge the pond (Rowley 1972; Fletcher)
The mound at SJ 58113631 is probably ornamental. It is 3.4m high, constructed of earth, and carries a spiral path on a terrace to its summit. The mound is neither firm enough nor large enough to be a castle mound (but is scheduled as a Castle Mound), and appears too well preserved (ie too steep sided) to be a barrow (F1 MHB 05-SEP-68).
The earthen mound at Sandford Hall measures 20.0m in diameter at the base, 3.4m in height, and has a spiral path to the summit which is only 4.0m across. The ground rises gradually to the east; to the west the mound overlooks a short slope down to Sandford Pool, and to the north there is a similar slope down to a chain of ponds (all water-filled). To the south the ground is level to Sandford Hall, beyond which it falls away into the valley of the Bailey Brook.
The summit of the mound now supports a circular concrete structure, possibly a water tank, dated 1920. 20.0m to the south of the mound there is an hexagonal brick dove cote extensively restored in 1930, but which, like the mound, is shown on a plan of circa 1775.
At this period the mound was contained within the garden of a house, of which no traces are now visible apart from a level area covered by nettles. This house lay within 10.0m of the mound on its west side.
Although the mound has a superficial resemblance to a borders motte it is very small and the siting seems to have little strategic significance. The absence of a ditch suggests that the material was brought from elsewhere (? one of the fishponds to the north, on the site of the house to the west), the terraced path to the summit has the appearance of an original feature, and the summit is very small. Whitfield notes a summerhouse on top, and this probably explains the purpose of the mound. There is a well-known 17th century example in the garden of Boscobel House some 25 miles to the south-east (SJ 80 NW) (F2 DJC 11-SEP-79). (PastScape)

Jackson dismisses as a motte and calls it an ornamental mound; however, the mound overlooks a crossing of suggestively named 'Bailey Brook'. The small Domesday manor had a haia (deer park) which may suggest a house of some status here in 1066 and the tenurial history is not inconsistent with a small motte here, adjacent to an unfortified house. The possibility this mound started as a motte can not be dismissed and the comment it was not 'firm enough' to be a motte has to be consider in the light of it being entirely firm enough to support a concrete water tank although, if it was a motte, then it can have supported a small timber tower of fundamentally symbolic value. Recorded as a possible site in the Gatehouse database, because of the scheduling report, although even with the suggested circumstantial evidence it seems most likely this was a de novo prospect mound of C17/C18 date.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:29

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