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Parishes: A (castles)

Adforton: possible motte

Historic Environment Record reference no. 10099, Ordnance Survey grid reference: SO 4041 7114

On the basis of aerial photographs and cropmarks a site has been identified that may have once been the location of a medieval motte.

On a ridge just to the east of the village lies a circular cropmark with an irregular ditch. This feature is too large to be consistent with a barrow, and unfortunately has been ploughed out making further assessment difficult.

Adforton was a demesne manor of the Mortimers in 1086. This fact makes its interpretation as a medieval castle site less likely as it is only 2km north of the main Mortimer seat, Wigmore Castle.

It is in a good position to regulate the passage of the road running north from Wigmore.

Allensmore: possible motte

HER no. 16507, OS grid ref: SO 4511 3588

The second half of the name comes from the Old English word mor,which means "wet, low lying ground". The presence of another settlement with the name More on the north-west side of Hereford probably encouraged the use of the affix Allen-, to distinguish the two places. The Domesday Book records that the bishop of Hereford had a manor called More in Straddle Hundred, south of Hereford. Records dating from later than the Domesday Book show that Allensmore was always in the hands of the bishop, and it probably acquired the affix Allen from Alan fitzMain (c.1141) who held the manor under the bishop. (Bruce Coplestone-Crow, Herefordshire Place-Names, British Archaeological Reports British Series 214, 1989, p. 24).

Located at this grid reference is a large circular feature, the very northern portion of which is still under pasture while the rest has been ploughed. This may represent a motte visible now only as a cropmark.

Almeley: Oldcastle twt

HER no. 1704, OS grid ref: SO 3281 5201

(Also known as Batch Twt)

750 yards to the north-west of the church of St Mary, on the end of a spur, can be found earthworks that suggest this area may have once been the site of a small medieval motte and bailey.

Description of the Oldcastle twt site today

The spur on which this motte and bailey stands has steep slopes to the east, west and south at the confluence of two streams.

The circular motte can be found on the southernmost point of the spur and has a base diameter of 40m. It rises 6m above the bottom of the ditch that lies between it and the bailey to the north. The base diameter of the motte is 40m. It is separated from the bailey by a ditch 10m wide and 2m deep that opens out at both ends upon natural slopes, which encircle the motte and are separated from it by a 7m wide berm.

The bailey is rectangular in shape with a ditch cut across the base of the spur and with an internal rampart. The bailey measures 40m x 30m and is bounded on the east and west by natural slopes. It is separated from a ridge to the north by a ditch 12m wide and 2m deep.

The inner rampart is 12m wide and 4.4m high, although this has been cut away in the centre for a length of 16m for an 18th or 19th century cottage.

Modern pathways have left the motte much mutilated and in a bad condition. A cottage has been built in what was probably once the entranceway on the east side. The bailey is currently under pasture.

History of Oldcastle twt

1360: Tradition has it that Sir John Oldcastle once lived here. Sir John Oldcastle (Lord Cobham in right of his wife) was born about 1360 and served as Sheriff in his native county in the seventh year of the reign of Henry IV. Lord Cobham was known as the Lollard martyr and rebel (Lollards were followers of John Wycliffe, the 14th century English religious reformer). He was condemned as a heretic and "hanged and burnt hanging" on Christmas Day 1417. Almeley has a better claim to be the birthplace of Sir John than the remote village of Oldcastle, which is beyond the borders of Herefordshire on the banks of the River Monnow.

1428: Sir John's son Henry obtained a restoration of part of the castle estates after they had been confiscated by the Crown. Almeley Castle came into the possession of his heirs, the Milbournes.

Almeley: Woonton Castle

HER no. 31114, OS grid ref: SO 3570 5242

Almeley Wooton means a "settlement near a wood", from the Old English wudu-tun (Bruce Coplestone-Crow, Herefordshire Place-Names, British Archaeological Reports British Series 214, 1989, p. 25).

Earthworks remains of a small castle have been noted approximately 400m east-north-east of Woonton. The site has been heavily ploughed in recent years and is currently under pasture. Enough of the earthworks survive to identify the castle mound, a possible motte and outworks.

Ashperton: Ashperton Castle

HER no. 460, OS grid ref: SO 6418 4151

Ashperton parish and village are some 5 miles north-west of Ledbury. There are several suggestions as to the origin of the name Ashperton - one theory is that is derived from the Old English words for "pear orchard", peretun, with aesc (meaning "ash tree") as a prefix. Another suggestion is that the name is derived from the Old English aescbeorh which means "ash hill".  The first suggestion is more likely as it fits more easily with the modern form. (Bruce Coplestone-Crow, Herefordshire Place-Names, British Archaeological Reports British Series 214, 1989, p. 26)

Description of the Ashperton site today

The remains of the site consist of earthworks forming an oval island within a moat and a roughly oval enclosure to the east, within which stands the church.

The island rises about one foot above the surrounding ground, which covers about 0.6 acres. This island is approached by a causeway on the east. The moat is approximately 20 foot wide on the east but it widens to an angle on the north, west and south.

Around the north and east sides of the outer enclosure runs a dry ditch. Traces of this ditch can also be seen on the east and south sides of the churchyard.

History of Ashperton Castle

1270: Ashperton was the property of John de Monmouth until this year, when John died and the land passed to William de Grandison, who was the son of a Burgundian noble. He was summoned to Parliament in the reigns of both Edward I and Edward II.

1292: William de Grandison had built a manor at Ashperton and in this year he received a licence from the king to crenellate, which meant that he could convert it into a castle. Three of the children of William themselves gained great distinction.

The eldest son, Sir Peter, was summoned to the parliament of Edward III and died in 1357. He is buried in Hereford Cathedral and his tomb, once supposed to commemorate one of the Bohuns, is on the north side of the Lady Chapel.

1327: The middle son, John de Grandison, was the great-nephew of Bishop Cantilupe (St. Thomas of Hereford) and was himself made Bishop of Exeter.

The youngest son, Sir Otho Grandison, was a statesman and warrior and was sent as an ambassador to the Pope by Edward II. Otho died in 1359 and left strict instructions for his burial. He wished that no horse or armed man should go before him, and his body should not be wrapped in a cloth decorated with gilt and arms, but in a plain white cloth marked with a cross.

18th century: Any stonework of the castle that remained was removed.

The castle has now completely disappeared but the moat around the island still remains and is full of water.

Avenbury: possible castle

HER no. 18107, OS grid ref: SO 6490 5070

Avenbury is a village in the north-east of Herefordshire, 2 miles south of Bromyard. It is nestled in a loop of the River Frome amongst the hills.

The second part of the name of the village, "bury", comes from the word "burh" which is the name for an Anglo-Saxon settlement that was surrounded by a bank of earth. This may suggest that a settlement existed here some time before the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

There is a possible castle site here which is indicated in the 1840 Tithe Award for the village, where there are two fields recorded as Big Castle Field and Little Castle Field.  These fields were both owned by Benjamin Saunders in 1840.

Aylton: Castlefield

HER no. 18137, OS grid ref: SO 6580 3800

Aylton is a small parish in the east of Herefordshire, 3 miles west of Ledbury.

The name of the village means "Aethelgifu's estate". The personal name is feminine, which is rare. The Domesday Survey shows that in 1086 the estate was in the king's manor of Much Marcle and was therefore part of the area called Merchelai.  In the Herefordshire section of the Domesday Book the place name is identified as Aylton (Bruce Coplestone-Crow, Herefordshire Place-Names, British Archaeological Reports British Series 214, 1989, p. 29).

There is a possible castle site north-west of the church, of which very little is evident.

Aymestrey: Castle Mound, Camp Wood

HER no. 1701, OS grid ref: SO 3960 6540

Aymestrey is a parish in the north-west of the county, some 5 miles from Leominster and just to the south of Wigmore. The mound is situated in Camp Wood, north of the River Lugg. It is about 2 miles west of the church and lies on a small spur.

Description of the Aymestry site today

There is a circular mound approx. 37m in diameter and with a height of 5m.

There is no ditch to the west and south sides of the motte but there is evidence of scarping having been added to the already steep slope down to the River Lugg. The ditch surrounding the rest of the motte is deep and clear.

The interior of the motte is flat with a high bank surround and a continuous rampart, except on the west side.

Foundation and history of the Aymestry site

The castle is thought to have been founded by Hugh Mortimer c.1144-54.