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Upper Gwarthlow Motte

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Brompton and Rhiston

In the civil parish of Chirbury With Brompton.
In the historic county of Shropshire.
Modern Authority of Shropshire.
1974 county of Shropshire.
Medieval County of Shropshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO25229546
Latitude 52.55179° Longitude -3.10439°

Upper Gwarthlow Motte has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Gwarthlow castle motte survives well and is a fine example of its class. It will retain archaeological information relating both to its construction and to its occupation. Environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed will be preserved within the mound and the ditch fill. Such castles provide valuable information concerning the settlement pattern and social organisation of the countryside during the medieval period.
The monument includes the remains of Gwarthlow castle motte castle which is believed to have been the centre of the manor of Rhiston. The castle is situated on the summit of a low ridge commanding excellent views of the surrounding landscape. It includes a well defined earthen castle mound, or motte, circular in plan with a base diameter of 28m and standing up to 6.3m high. The motte has been constructed by cutting a scarp around the ridge summit to form a foundation mound and then piling further material on top to give the desired height. The summit of the motte is roughly oval in plan with dimensions of 12m east to west by 10m north to south, its surface sloping from east to west. Surrounding the motte is a ditch from which material would have been quarried for the upper part of the motte. It remains visible around the eastern quarter as a shallow depression 0.2m deep and 4m wide and will survive around the remaining sides as a buried feature of similar proportions. There is no visible evidence for a bailey associated with the motte. (Scheduling Report)

This large and impressive mound on a hilltop has very good views all round and can be seen from a large area. However, there is no evidence of residential use and the windswept site is an unlikely residential site. King and Spurgeon wrote intense cultivation has infilled the ditch. There does not seem to be any particular signs of intense cultivation or of particularly intense erosion and the ditch, of which there are scant remains, may well have been slight. There is no bailey. Presumably used as a watch tower. Although all the authorities seem certain of this site as a motte Gatehouse has doubts and wonders if this is a Saxon barrow (Gwarthlow has a low element - a place name thought to be derived from hlaw a saxon term for a burial mound), possibly connected with nearby Offa's dyke.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:52

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