Ancient Monuments

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Motte and bailey castle called East Leigh Berrys

A Scheduled Monument in Bude-Stratton, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.8335 / 50°50'0"N

Longitude: -4.4944 / 4°29'39"W

OS Eastings: 224443.926874

OS Northings: 106738.53455

OS Grid: SS244067

Mapcode National: GBR K4.WWSP

Mapcode Global: FRA 16GW.QWD

Entry Name: Motte and bailey castle called East Leigh Berrys

Scheduled Date: 12 April 1957

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004410

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 483

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Bude-Stratton

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Launcells

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a motte and bailey castle situated on a south west facing spur, overlooking a tributary to the River Neet. The castle survives as a low circular mound or motte with two roughly oval baileys to the north east surrounded by largely buried ditches and defined by earthen rampart banks. The motte is approximately 50m in diameter with a flattened dome-like profile and stands up to 1.7m high. The perimeter is visible as a scarp with a gap to the south west where the earthworks have been slightly flattened. The outer ditch is up to 8m wide and 0.5m deep. The central bailey is roughly circular in plan and defined by a bank of up to 5m wide and 0.4m high. The accompanying ditch is up to 6m wide and 0.5m deep and continues around the second bailey. Between the two baileys is a 0.5m high scarp. The second north eastern bailey is larger and of irregular plan. It is defined by a flattened bank of 7m wide and 0.7m high. Beyond the outer ditch to the north west is a counterscarp bank. As a defensive position this location is rather poor, but it does seem to control a medieval route into North Cornwall. It is thought to be an adulterine castle built during the Civil War between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda and the relatively low earthworks might suggest it was either unfinished or slighted. There is no known contemporary documentation relating to the castle which was first recorded by Maclaughlan and depicted on the Ordnance Survey map of 1885. However, it is thought to have had a strategic relationship with the important pre-conquest and Domesday recorded manor of Stratton, the centre of the Hundred of Stratton and a market town.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-31876

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 some flattening of the earthworks, the motte and bailey castle called East Leigh Berrys survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, longevity, social, political, strategic and military significance, abandonment, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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