Ancient Monuments

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Circular earthwork

A Scheduled Monument in West Dean, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.046 / 51°2'45"N

Longitude: -1.635 / 1°38'5"W

OS Eastings: 425684.659788

OS Northings: 127470.30683

OS Grid: SU256274

Mapcode National: GBR 635.7H4

Mapcode Global: FRA 76GC.2VW

Entry Name: Circular earthwork

Scheduled Date: 16 May 1951

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005653

English Heritage Legacy ID: WI 312

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: West Dean

Built-Up Area: West Dean

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: West Dean with East Grimstead St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


Motte castle 175m north-east of Church Farm.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 2 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 situated on a small spur overlooking the valley of the River Dun. The motte survives as a circular mound measuring approximately 53m in diameter and up to 2.9m high surrounded by a partly buried ditch of up to 12m wide and 0.8m deep with a causeway to the south west of approximately 3m wide. The top of the motte was deliberately levelled in the 18th century to produce a bowling green approached by a causeway and this has led to the alternative interpretation of the earthwork as a ringwork. Norman pottery has been found by chance associated with the earthwork.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Motte 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-bai1ey 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 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 and motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. Some 100-150 examples do not have baileys and are classified as motte castles. 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 later adaptive re-use the motte castle 175m north east of Church Farm survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, maintenance, social, strategic, political and economic significance, longevity, abandonment, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England


PastScape 222959
Wiltshire HER SU22NE452

Source: Historic England

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