Wilderley Castle was an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification raised in the late eleventh century. Its purpose was to control an important overland route between Shrewsbury and Bishops Castle but it also had a key role to provide protection for the adjacent settlement from Welsh raids and, possibly, the garrison of nearby Castle Pulverbatch.
Wilderley Castle was probably raised by Hugh son of Thorgisl, who held the manor at the time of the Domesday survey in 1086. Although he owned two other estates nearby, Wilderley was his most profitable manor. The site was in close proximity to an important overland road connecting Shrewsbury and Bishops Castle which suggests Wilderley Castle's purpose may have been to secure unfettered access to that route. However, less than one mile to the west was Castle Pulverbatch which had been built around the same time by Roger Venator (the Hunter). Accordingly it is probable that Wilderley Castle was built to protect the economic assets of the manor rather than enable strategic control of the region. Whether it was protection from the Welsh and/or the garrison of Castle Pulverbatch is unknown.
The castle took the form of an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. It was built upon a spur of high ground overlooking a small stream to the north-west. The motte was raised upon the highest part of the site and consisted of a circular mound which would have been topped by a timber palisade and/or tower. A dry ditch encircled the base of the motte. Extending to the north-east were two baileys. The Inner Bailey had a quadrangular trace which some authors have suggested may have been a pre-existing Anglo-Saxon enclosure that was modified by the Normans. An Outer Bailey extended beyond. Both were enclosed by earth ramparts topped with a timber palisade and fronted by a ditch.
It is not known how long Wilderley Castle remained in use for but it was still active in the early twelfth century when Henry I incorporated it into the honour of Montgomery. This placed a requirement on the manor to provide military manpower (or money in lieu) to partially support the garrison at Montgomery Castle. Shortly after, records show that the manor was held by the Abbot of Haughmond. It is likely the castle went out of use in the decades that followed. The associated village also withered over time and now the only surviving remnant is Wilderley Hall Farm.
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Wilderley Castle consists of the tree covered remains of an eleventh century motte and traces of the associated baileys. The remains are adjacent to a public right of way.
Wilderley Castle. The tree covered motte is visible in the foreground with the site of the baileys beyond. Wilderley Hall Farm, the only remnant of the medieval hamlet, can be seen in the distance.
Motte. The motte is heavily wooded.