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Parishes: W (castles)

Wacton: castle mound

Historic Environment Record reference no. 940, Ordnance Survey grid reference: SO 6148 5753

Wacton is a small parish approximately 3 miles north-west of Bromyard. The site is 80 yards to the north of Wacton Court. In the late 1100s Wacton was known as Waketon. This is probably derived from the words tune, "an estate" and the personal name Wacca, so Wacton means "the estate of Wacca" (Bruce Coplestone-Crow, Herefordshire Place-Names, British Archaeological Reports British Series 214, 1989, p. 197).

Description of the Wacton site today

There is an oval mound, probably a motte, about 18m across its longer axis and 4m above the bottom of the surviving ditch.

The mound is oriented east to west, with the remains of the ditch lying on the west. The outer scarp of the mound rises about 1.2m above the bottom of the ditch.

The remains of buried foundations point to a possible round tower with an apsidal projection on the motte.

A line of loose stones connecting the motte with the remaining arm of the moat at the side of the present-day house shows up after ploughing. This line of stones also shows up in crops as a band of yellowing growth about 2.6m wide.

The defences on the east of the site were obscured by modern farm buildings, which have now been demolished. In the rubble of these buildings were pieces of stone with diagonal tooling and fragments of late 13th century or early 14th century windows. These may have come from a nearby castle or church.

Walford and Letton: mound, Letton

HER no. 10045, OS grid ref: SO 3809 7012

Letton is 3.5km west-north-west of Wigmore. At this grid reference there are several features which could represent a castle: disturbed areas, plus a square hollow with 3m sides and ditches. However, the remains are more likely to be those of a deserted medieval village than a castle.

Letton comes from the Old English Leactun, which means "leek enclosure" or "herb garden" (Bruce Coplestone-Crow, Herefordshire Place-Names, British Archaeological Reports British Series 214, 1989, p. 126).

Walford and Letton: motte and bailey, Walford

HER no. 1711, OS grid ref: SO 3914 7240

Walford and Letton is a parish in the north of the county. The village of Walford is some 2km south-west of Leintwardine. The site lies roughly 2km east of Brampton Bryan and 0.2km south of a crossroads. At the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086 the land is said to have belonged to Roger de Mortimer of the famous family who held nearby Wigmore Castle.

In the Domesday Survey, Walford was recorded as Waliforde, which means "Welshman ford". The ford was across the River Wye at SO 576 202. (Bruce Coplestone-Crow, Herefordshire Place-Names, British Archaeological Reports British Series 214, 1989, p. 197)

Description of the Walford and Letton site today

The earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle on level ground south of the River Teme and 178m west-south-west of Walford Bridge. There are two drains on the north and south edges of the monument.

The monument consists of a steep-sided circular earthen mound, 30m in diameter at its base, 3m high and with a flat top 13m in diameter. Viewed from the top, it is evident that it has six roughly equal sides. On the mound's south-west side, an early investigation has caused a substantial hollow which has exposed masonry, probably the remains of a wall or stairway. This investigation probably took place at the end of the 19th century, and it is believed that it uncovered evidence for a prehistoric burial.

Another result of this investigation may be the shallow depression, 0.75m wide and extending c. 2m in from the northern edge of the mound's top. A causeway crosses the surrounding ditch at the same point; this may be the original access route in to the motte. The dimensions of this causeway are unclear, due to the spread of spoil from the adjacent hollow.

The ditch measures up to 7.5m wide and is mostly infilled, partly due to drainage works in 1930, when a pipe was laid south of the motte. It can still be seen as a boggy area defined by an external bank most easily visible on the north and north-east sides. On the east side of the motte, this bank runs north-east for c. 20m, parallel to a ditch which runs towards Walford Bridge. A second, less well-defined, extension runs for several metres from the north section of the bank. The bank can also be seen on the south-west side as a slight rise, extending for c. 26m. This is separated from the rest of the bank by an 8m wide inlet channel.

This castle is associated with a similar motte castle at Buckton (HER no. 195), c. 1km to the north-west on the other side of the Teme.

Walterstone: motte and bailey

HER no. 5590, OS grid ref: SO 3390 2500

Walterstone is 14 miles south-west of Hereford, above the River Monnow and about 4 miles south-west of Ewyas Harold Castle. One hundred metres west of the church of St. Mary's lies a motte and bailey. The site has views across the valley to the Black Mountains beyond.

Description of the Walterstone site today

The motte is 48m in diameter at its base and 10m above the bottom of the partly-wet ditch. The diameter of  the top of the mound is roughly similar to that of the base.

On the east and south-east sides of the motte is a kidney-shaped bailey. A scarp with the remains of a rampart bounds most of the bailey on the south. To the north-east of the motte and the north of the lower bailey is another higher enclosure, thought to be an upper bailey. This has scarping down to the lower bailey on the south and the remains of scarping to the north and north-east where it runs towards the motte.

On the flat top of the mound there are a few stones, but no discernible structures. The mound is covered in bushes and scrub.

The area around this motte and bailey is used as winter pasture for cattle but they appear to have done little damage to the site.

History of the Walterstone site

It is thought that this motte and bailey was once the castle of Walter de Lacy, a member of a powerful family at the time of the Norman Conquest. It is thought that the castle had probably been abandoned by 1137.

Walterstone means "the estate of Walter", but there is no mention of Walterstone in the Domesday Book of 1086.

Weobley: Garnstone Castle, motte?

HER no. 10098, OS grid ref: SO 4044 5008

To the east of Garnstone House and south of Weobley Castle lies a large, circular, flat-topped mound with the visible remains of a ditch structure.

There are no signs of an obvious bailey, but there are indications of ridge and furrow earthworks nearby, although the precise relation between the features has never been investigated.

The mound stands within the area that was once Garnstone Park, and may be a landscape feature. The mound is not marked on either the 1st Edition OS maps of the 1890s nor the modern OS maps, and is only slightly visible on aerial photographs. However, it can be seen clearly from the ground.

At the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086, Weobley was part of Stretford Hundred and was held by Edwy Young. There were three hides which paid tax and three ploughs in lordship. Ten villagers, a priest, a reeve, a smith, five smallholders with 9½ ploughs and eleven slaves lived there. It also included woodland ½ a league long and four furlongs wide, as well as a park with land for one plough, which paid 11s 9d. St. Peter's has one of these villagers by gift of Walter Lacy. The value of Weobley before 1066 had been 100s and at the time of the Domesday Survey it was still worth 100s. (Frank and Caroline Thorn (eds.), Domesday Book 17: Herefordshire, 10,48, Phillimore, 1983)

Whitney-on-Wye: Whitney Castle

HER no. 1192, OS grid ref: SO 2725 4654

Whitney-on-Wye is situated on the north bank of the River Wye, close to the Radnorshire border. The site is just to the south of Old Whitney Court and on the west side of the River Wye.

Description of the Whitney-on-Wye site today

There is no trace of a castle at this site now, but tradition says that beneath the river - which dramatically changed its course in 1730 - are still to be seen masses of masonry which may have belonged to the castle.

In 1675, although there was no trace of a castle tower, some residents are said to have recollections of a building at this site, according to the Blount MS.

It was apparently a motte and bailey castle, formerly on a spit of gravel on a bend in the River Wye.

In 1976, during the major drought, several lumps of mortared masonry and lots of stone with mortar attached were seen in the river, up to ¾ of a mile from the site.

History of the Whitney family

Although it is not possible to trace the history of the castle, we can trace some of the history of the family who took their name from this place. The Whitney family can trace their descent from Turstin the Fleming, who held both Pencomb and Whitney.

1283: Eustachius de Whitney had a grant of free warren in Whitney, and in 1306 was knighted under King Edward I. The family is also said to have taken part in the Crusades (the Holy Wars fought over Jerusalem, which began in 1096 and continued well into the 13th century).

1377: Robert Whitney was Sheriff of Herefordshire and was also Knight of the Shire, as were several of his relatives.

1640s: At the time of the English Civil War Sir Robert Whitney was head of the family, and a devoted Royalist who gave much of his estate to support the King. By the time of his death in 1653 the lands in Pencombe had been sold and his only son had produced no male heir, so the name became extinct and the property was divided between his daughters.

It later passed to the Rodds of Foxley and then to William Wardour M.P. and Colonel Tomkyns Wardour, who were related to the families of Monnington and Garnstone.

On Taylor's map of 1754 the site is marked as "castle demolished".

Wigmore: Green Hill, motte and bailey

HER no. 21982, OS grid ref: SO 4108 6910

Thought to be the site of an early motte and bailey castle, first identified by Jim Tonkin and described by P. Halliwell in 1994.

The site is located on Green Hill, south-east of the rampart enclosing the outer bailey of Wigmore Castle.

It is on a narrow ridge, and consists of a possible motte and two baileys; however, the shape of the earthworks is inconclusive. Modern housing obscures the eastern bailey.

The motte is the eastern of two mounds, a circular earthwork about 5m high and 10m in diameter at the top. The bailey is the western of the two mounds and is a narrow oblong earthwork separated from the motte by a broad ditch.

The area has been defined as a medieval component of the nearby castle, and may have been a temporary castle to protect the workers building Wigmore Castle.

Woolhope: Overbury Farm, mound

HER no. 30353, OS grid ref: SO 6102 3639

Woolhope is a village in the south-east of the county, approximately 6 miles from Hereford. In the Domesday Survey Woolhope is recorded under the nameHope, which comes from the Old English word hop meaning "a secluded valley". The "Wool" part of the name is thought probably to be derived from the personal name Wulfgifu. (Bruce Coplestone-Crow, Herefordshire Place-Names, British Archaeological Reports British Series 214, 1989, p. 213)

The mound is situated at Overbury Farm in the north of the village. The mound is sub-rectangular, about 20m x 15m and surrounded by a ditch 1.5m deep and around 2m wide.

The ditch and mound are very clear on the south and lie close to a present day farmhouse.

History of the Woolhope site

At the time of the Domesday Survey (1086) Woolhope was in the Hundred of Greytree. It held sixteen hides which paid tax and had one plough in lordship, though there was enough land for another. There were 35 villagers and seven smallholders with 35 ploughs.

The land included a meadow of eight acres and woodland three furlongs long and one furlong wide. Of this land two clerks held one hide and one virgate, and one man-at-arms 1½ hides. In lordship there was one plough; five villagers and four smallholders with four ploughs. The man-at-arms paid 5s to the canons of St. Albert's.

The value before and after 1066 was £16. (Frank and Caroline Thorn (eds.), Domesday Book 17: Herefordshire, Phillimore, 1983, 2,13)