Ancient Monuments

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Motte and bailey castle at Boscastle

A Scheduled Monument in Forrabury and Minster, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.6861 / 50°41'10"N

Longitude: -4.6919 / 4°41'30"W

OS Eastings: 209945.965824

OS Northings: 90841.501312

OS Grid: SX099908

Mapcode National: GBR N4.60NC

Mapcode Global: FRA 1718.CY9

Entry Name: Motte and bailey castle at Boscastle

Scheduled Date: 22 April 1974

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005455

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 913

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Forrabury and Minster

Built-Up Area: Boscastle

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Forrabury

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes part of a motte and bailey castle, situated at the summit of a steep natural spur, overlooking River Jordan at the head of the impressive Jordan Valley and with wide views to the coast. The castle survives as a circular mound or motte with a small bank at the summit representing a possible building. Part of a steeply embanked bailey wall with a terrace, representing a silted ditch, is located to the north, with further small terraces and platforms within.

Known locally as 'Bottreaux Castle', this was the principal residence of the Bottreaux family, one of the most important in medieval Cornwall, who settled here in the reign of Henry II (1154-1189). The castle may date from this time, although one is not actually documented until the 13th century. The last member of the family died in 1462, and the castle soon fell into decay. William Worcester (c. 1478) mentioned the castle, as did Leland in the mid-16th century. Carew, in about 1600, suggested the rooms and prisons of tradition were no longer discernible in the mound. By Maclaughlan's survey in 1852, although some walls were found, he noted only about half of the castle motte was still visible. The settlement of Boscastle was named after Bottreaux Castle.

A war memorial lies within the scheduled area and is excluded although the ground beneath is included.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-432075

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. The motte and bailey castle at Boscastle survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, social, political, economic and territorial significance, abandonment, function and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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