Malpas Castle was an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification raised in the late eleventh century. It was the administrative centre for a large estate and also provided the site with protection from Welsh raids. It probably went out of use in the twelfth century.
Malpas Castle was built before 1086 by Hugh d'Avranches, Earl of Chester or one of his retainers. It was part of a series of fortifications raised along or near the Dee valley to provide protection for the valuable farming areas of Cheshire from Welsh raids. It is possible the castle was built in response to such attacks as the Domesday survey of 1086 recorded a dramatic drop in the value of the manor (from £11 in 1066 to just £2 in 1086). Aside from securing the Lord's income, the castle also had a strategic role as it controlled the Roman road from Chester, which was still in use in the medieval period, which ran directly adjacent to the site.
The fortification was an earth and timber motte-and-bailey castle. The conical shaped motte was built upon a spur of high ground and would have been topped by a timber palisade and probably also a tower. The bailey has been obliterated but probably lay to the south of the motte enclosing the area now occupied by St Oswald's Church.
Around 1100 Malpas Castle was granted to Robert FitzHugh, the illegitimate son of Hugh d'Avranches. Robert took the title Baron Malpas and made the castle his caput and the administrative centre for the surrounding estates. He may well have also augmented the region's defences at this time by constructing Oldcastle Castle to secure the Wych valley which provided access towards Malpas. Robert died in the early twelfth century and thereafter records are silent on the history of the castle. It is likely it went out of use shortly after.
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Malpas Castle consists of the earthwork remains of a late eleventh century motte. The mound can be viewed from the adjacent church grounds but the access to the summit is private. All traces of the castle’s bailey have been obliterated.
Motte. The motte was built on a spur of the Broxton Hills with good views of the surrounding area.
Damage. The motte has had a stairway cut into it.
Private. The access to the top of the motte is marked 'private'.
Church. St Oswald's Church occupies the most likely site for the castle's bailey. Some authors suggested that the church evolved from the castle's chapel.