Ancient Monuments

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Orchard Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Zeals, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.0861 / 51°5'9"N

Longitude: -2.3306 / 2°19'50"W

OS Eastings: 376939.828755

OS Northings: 131915.388836

OS Grid: ST769319

Mapcode National: GBR 0V0.ZHT

Mapcode Global: FRA 6607.V64

Entry Name: Orchard Castle

Scheduled Date: 24 April 1956

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005639

English Heritage Legacy ID: WI 333

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Zeals

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Upper Stour

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


Motte and bailey castle 225m west of Row Farm.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 9 July 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records. As such they do not yet have the full descriptions of their modernised counterparts available. Please contact us if you would like further information.

This monument includes a motte and bailey castle situated on a steep ridge which forms the watershed between the valley of the River Stour and a tributary in a valley called Combe Bottom. The castle survives as a roughly circular motte of approximately 55m in diameter defined by a surrounding rock cut ditch with a western bailey which measures up to 64m long by 25m wide internally and a further outer bailey at a lower level to the north which is up to 81m long by 77m wide. The outer bailey chiefly incorporates the steep natural slopes for its defences although the inner bailey has a bank of up to 2m high and a largely filled ditch of up to 0.4m deep. Known locally as either ‘Orchard Castle’ or ‘Castle Orchard’ the castle was first excavated by Pitt-Rivers in 1879-80. Norman and medieval pottery were recovered and pits which formed part of the Pen Pits quarry (scheduled separately) were found beneath the castle earthworks. Subsequent excavations by the Ministry of Works in 1939 located a length of stone walling about 15m long on the summit of the motte.

Further archaeological remains in the vicinity are scheduled separately.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Cranborne Chase is an area of chalkland well known for its high number, density and diversity of archaeological remains. These include a rare combination of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age sites, comprising one of the largest concentrations of burial monuments in England, the largest known cursus (a linear ritual monument) and a significant number and range of henge monuments (Late Neolithic ceremonial centres). Other important remains include a variety of enclosures, settlements, field systems and linear boundaries which date throughout prehistory and into the Romano-British and medieval periods. This high level of survival of archaeological remains is due largely to the later history of the Chase. Cranborne Chase formed a Royal Hunting Ground from at least Norman times, and much of the archaeological survival within the area resulted from associated laws controlling land-use which applied until 1830. The unique archaeological character of the Chase has attracted much attention over the years, notably during the later 19th century, by the pioneering work on the Chase of General Pitt-Rivers, Sir Richard Colt Hoare and Edward Cunnington, often regarded as the fathers of British archaeology. Archaeological investigations have continued throughout the 20th century and to the present day. 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 225m west of Row Farm survives comparatively well and will contain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, longevity, development, social, political, strategic and economic significance, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England


PastScape 202574
Wiltshire HER ST73SE451

Source: Historic England

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