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Motte and bailey castle 600m north of Castle Combe

A Scheduled Monument in Castle Combe, Wiltshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4998 / 51°29'59"N

Longitude: -2.2337 / 2°14'1"W

OS Eastings: 383874.836437

OS Northings: 177897.779668

OS Grid: ST838778

Mapcode National: GBR 1QG.S4N

Mapcode Global: VH963.7KHM

Entry Name: Motte and bailey castle 600m north of Castle Combe

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 6 February 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009580

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12285

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Castle Combe

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Castle Combe

Church of England Diocese: Bristol

Details

The monument includes a motte with four associated baileys set on a steep
promontory overlooking By Brook, a tributary of the River Avon. The
earthworks are orientated SW-NE and follow the line of contours making the
monument appear ovoid in plan. The motte is close to the steep SW-facing
slope and is 8m high. Traces of a wall around the top of the motte are
visible while in the eastern corner the walls of the rectangular tower survive
to a height of 3.5m. The baileys vary in size, are separated from each other
by banks and ditches and tend to radiate out from the motte towards the
north-east end of the monument. In three of the baileys there are the remains
of a total of around seventeen buildings while the largest bailey, covering
some 1.5ha at the NE end of the monument, contains two linear pillow mounds
aligned NE-SW across the centre of the bailey, probably associated with a
rabbit warren recorded in 1416, and a dry pond on the SE side. Although never
excavated, finds from the monument include iron arrowheads, bucklers, spurs
and a few Saxon coins. The whole of the monument is defined by a single bank
and a ditch with a counterscarp. The ditch averages 5m wide and 2m deep and
the bank up to 3m high. The location of the site and the survival of an outer
bank at the NE end of the monument suggest the site may have been built on the
site of an earlier promontory fort, dating probably to the Iron Age. The
building of the castle may be ascribed to the de Dunstanvilles at around
1140. The family line ended in 1270 and the castle and barony transferred to
Lord de Badlesmere in 1313.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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 at Castle Combe is particularly important as it is an
outstanding example of its class, survives well and has potential for the
recovery of archaeological remains. The importance of the site is enhanced by
the wealth of historical documentation available and by the possible
association with an earlier Iron Age promontory fort.

Source: Historic England

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