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Audley's Motte ... and Bailey?

According to William White's "History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire" of 1834, "The manor of Audley, or Aldithley, anciently belonged to the family of Verdon, one of whom (Henry) assumed the name of the place, in the reign of Henry III, and became the first Baron Audley ... it is several centuries since his family ceased to possess the manor of Audley where they had a castellated mansion ...".

If you look at a modern Ordnance Survey map of Audley, you will see a feature labelled "Motte". This is thought to be the location of Henry de Audley's "castellated mansion" or castle. The modern day topography of the site suggests that the area immediately to the north of the Motte may have been a Bailey.

Roughly 800 years after the castle was built, SOTMAS carried out a geophysical survey of this site in 2013. Then, this year (2014) we followed the survey up with a small excavation.

Below is a picture of members of SOTMAS doing the resistivity survey on the Motte.


Doing resistivity on Audley Motte

The following image, taken (as is the one above), from dig director Winston's report, shows the results of the resistivity survey overlaid on a map - oriented with North at the top.

We also performed a magnetometry survey over the same areas, and you can see the results of this in Winston's report.


In his report, Winston identified some areas which the survey results suggested may be worthy of closer examination. One of these was a linear feature on the magnetometry map of the NE Bailey. You can see it running N-S in the NW corner of the image below, taken from the report.

NE Bailey magnetometry

We put three small trenches across the line of this feature. The picture below is an aerial view taken from Terry's drone, looking North.

Aerial view of bailey area

The first of these trenches did show clear remains of what appears to have been a cinder path, possibly Victorian. There were a few shards of pottery of this period, but nothing contemporary with the Motte. The largest was the bottom part of a Victorian ink well or bottle.

Traces of the path did appear in the other trenches, but again little else. A couple of other small trenches which we dug elsewhere on the site, covering potential features from the survey, also yielded no significant artefact or feature.

We did have a lot of interest from local people. The Audley Millennium Green Project arranged Open Days at which we explained our dig, our methodology, and displayed finds from one of our earlier digs (the Roman site at Tollgate Farm).

The Millennium Green Project displayed information about the Motte, and also organised a school visit and visits from local press and radio.


As Winston subsequently said "Although we didn't find anything Norman or even medieval it was a useful exercise in several ways. We had lots of people to the open day and a school party on another day. We were on community radio, Radio Stoke and in The Sentinel. We did "ground proof" the magnetometry result. The linear feature turned out to be a (probably) Victorian footpath. It was interesting that the magnetometer could pick up what was a disturbed feature."

Finally, here are a few more pictures. Click on any one to get a closer view.

Cinder path School visit
Open  Day School visit - trowelling
(Top) Trench A showing the remains of the Victorian (?) cinder path
(Below) One of the Open Days
The School Visit. The children were thrilled to find pieces of coal when they tried trowelling!


You can download our reports below (as they become available).


Survey Report: Click here to download the report as a pdf file


Stoke-on-Trent Museum Archaeological Society, October 2014