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Hartshill Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Hardreshull

In the civil parish of Hartshill.
In the historic county of Warwickshire.
Modern Authority of Warwickshire.
1974 county of Warwickshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SP32549433
Latitude 52.54581° Longitude -1.52144°

Hartshill Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are masonry footings remains.

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

Description

Stands in a commanding position. Fortified in the time of Henry I (1100-35) as a motte and bailey castle (PRN 241), possibly by Hugh de Hardreshull. Only the earthworks remain of the early castle together with practically the whole of the E wall and a portion of the S wall of a contemporary stone-built chapel (PRN 242). The castle was rebuilt possibly about 1330 by John de Hardreshull. Much of the boundary wall remains. The position of the cross-shaped loopholes in this wall indicate that the keep was situated well away from it. The boundary wall excluded the motte but embraced the early stone chapel. The pools on the E may have been made at this time or in the 16th century when Michael and Edmund Parker leased the castle with its 'castellated manor house'. (Warwickshire HER)

The motte and bailey castle is located on a relatively broad north-west/south-east ridge which falls away steeply on the southern side to a pond and stream that flows northwards. Prior to land infilling the land was similarly deeply incised on the northern side with a pond at the upper reaches of a stream (OS 1st edn map - 1885). The mound is not quite circular, measuring some 50m by 45m at the base, and tapering to 10m diameter at the top. It reaches a height of c 9m and is surrounded by a ditch with a partial counterscarp bank. The ditch, at its maximum, measures 5m wide and 1.5m deep. The top of the mound is relatively flat with two small trenches, one cut into the centre and the other on the northern side. This latter trench is 0.2m deep. Slight scarring is evident mid-way down the slope in the west. On the southern side, opposite the manor house, is a linear depression, up to 0.1m deep, extending from the top of the mound and fading out towards the bottom. This feature marks the probable line of former steps. The counterscarp bank is degraded in places and appears to have been re-modelled on at least one occasion. On the southern side the bank has been breached by a modern footpath that leads along the perimeter of the Hayes. A deep cutting is evident on the inner face of the bank in the west . This cutting, together with two almost parallel trenches extending from the outer face of the bank towards the valley, are possibly diorite or manganese test pits. The south-western side of the bank is relatively straight and appears constrained by the edge of the deep valley; nevertheless, another slight bank along the top of the bank indicates that it was re-modelled, possibly with walling or a quickset hedge, at some time. A scarp defining the position of the bailey extends to the south of the motte and for much of its course is overlain by a curtain wall. The survey suggests that there may have been two baileys. An inner, smaller enclosure covers an area of c 40m by 60m and extends from the motte ditch in the south before curving north-east at where it is overlain by a wall that is probably associated with the later manor house. In the north-east its course is again evident as a steep-sided scarp and narrow ditch leading back to the motte ditch. The posited outer bailey is less certain, and is less evident as an earthwork. It continues the line of the first bailey for some 50m and then cuts dramatically across the spur to the north-eastern side where there is a prominent scarp along its course. Overlying the bailey is a polygonal curtain wall which is constructed of a local rubble quartzite stone with sandstone quoins and thought to date to the 14th century. Much of the wall, some 1.2m thick, appears quite unstable and has collapsed in a number of places; however, at its maximum height, in the west, it measures 3m. Both internally and externally, stone rubble is present along much of the course of the north and east walls. A number of apertures, or cross-shaped loopholes, are intermittently placed in the wall. To the south of the curtain wall, at (d), is a pond with the main entrance to the site situated just to the north. Extending from the entrance is an embanked track which, further south-east, survives as a hollow way for c 25m. Terracing along the south-western side of the curtain wall, which descends to another pond, may be the remains of a garden. The pond is dammed at the north-western end, but water permeates to a small stream that flows through the woodland. Extending from the southern side of the manor house in a south-westerly direction are two scarps, the upper scarp measures 15m and turns through ninety degrees where the outline of a stone wall survives. Further south, this stone wall survives as a low, linear mound. The scarp and stone wall thus form an enclosure c.55 by 35m. Within this enclosure are further slight rectilinear earthworks which probably represent former gardens. (PastScape ref.English Heritage: Earthwork survey - Hartshill Hayes Jan 1999)

Recent excavations (2000) were apparently done without archaeological supervision!
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 257
      Salter, Mike, 1993, Midlands Castles (Birmingham) p. 49
      Salter, Mike, 1992, Castles and Moated Mansions of Warwickshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 29-30
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 482
      Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 239
      Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 200
      Pevsner, Nikolaus and Wedgwood, Alexandra, 1966, Buildings of England: Warwickshire p. 307
      Salzman, L.F. (ed), 1947, VCH Warwickshire Vol. 4 p. 131 online transcription
      Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
      Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 350-1 online copy
  • Periodical Articles
    • Wilson, M., 2006, 'Demystifying Hartshill Castle: recent conservation and research' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 49 p. 2-7
      Wilson, M., 2006, 'Hartshill Castle and an issue of trust' The Archaeologist Vol. 60 p. 24-5
      Chatwin, P.B., 1947-8, 'Castles in Warwickshire' Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society Vol. 67 p. 8-9
      Chatwin, P.B., 1928, Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society Vol. 53 p. 206-10
      Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 213 online copy
  • Guidebooks
    • Lapworth, J., nd, Hartshill Castle (typed essay by owner) online copy
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
    • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 42 online copy
      English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 42 online copy
      English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 53 online copy
      English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 53 online copy
      English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 53 online copy
      Baker, H.D., 1987, Warwickshire Monument Evaluation and Presentation Project
      Brown, G., 1997, A field investigation and survey at Hartshill Hayes
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The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
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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 on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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