Ancient Monuments

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Motte and bailey castle 160m north of Castle Mill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Powerstock, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.7605 / 50°45'37"N

Longitude: -2.6806 / 2°40'50"W

OS Eastings: 352092.816922

OS Northings: 95874.853077

OS Grid: SY520958

Mapcode National: GBR PR.8G1N

Mapcode Global: FRA 5782.HHZ

Entry Name: Motte and bailey castle 160m north of Castle Mill Farm

Scheduled Date: 15 October 1924

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002680

English Heritage Legacy ID: DO 25

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Powerstock

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Powerstock with West Milton Witherstone and North Porton St Mary The Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a motte and bailey castle situated on the summit of the prominent Castle Hill, overlooking the valleys of the Mangerton River and a major tributary to it. The castle survives as a slightly oval motte mound of approximately 45m by 42m and up to 6m high. It is surrounded by a semi circular ditch, the northern part of which falls away on a natural steep slope. To the south and east is a kidney-shaped inner bailey defined by a rampart bank up to 4.5m high divided from the larger outer bailey to the west by a cross bank. The large outer bailey is demarcated by a rock-cut ditch of up to 2m deep with a slight rampart bank. Both the baileys and motte have been subject to some quarrying. Partial excavations in 1840 revealed a midden which produced pottery, animal bones, a spur and a horseshoe. It is known locally as Powerstock Castle.
Constructed in the 11th to 12th centuries, the castle formed part of 'Poorstock' belonging to the barony of the Newburgh family until it was acquired by King John in 1205. The 'King's Houses' were completed in 1206-7 and were probably constructed in the bailey. King John is known to have stayed at the castle at least four or five times. Henry III stayed in 1230. The manor passed into the private hands of Sir Ralph Gorges in 1266.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-450881

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle. Despite quarrying, the motte and bailey castle 160m north of Castle Mill Farm survives comparatively well and has a well-documented Royal history. It will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, social, political, strategic and economic significance, longevity, domestic arrangements, abandonment and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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