Ancient Monuments

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Ballands Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Pen Selwood, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.0779 / 51°4'40"N

Longitude: -2.3531 / 2°21'10"W

OS Eastings: 375362.861828

OS Northings: 131015.247541

OS Grid: ST753310

Mapcode National: GBR 0V5.CX9

Mapcode Global: FRA 56Y8.R3B

Entry Name: Ballands Castle

Scheduled Date: 8 October 1954

Last Amended: 10 July 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014713

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22074

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Pen Selwood

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a motte and bailey castle built on a natural terrace on
a west facing hillside which slopes down to a stream. The motte and an
additional mound are at the north of the site, with the inner bailey and an
outer bailey extending to the south.

The motte is a flat topped mound, 3m high, the top c.9m north-south by c.14m
east-west, surrounded by a ditch c.7m wide and c.1m deep. Beyond the ditch on
the west side is an additional mound thought to represent an outwork. This has
dimensions of c.35m north-south, c.8m east-west and c.1m high.

To the south of the motte are two baileys. The inner bailey measures 25m
north-south and 16m east-west. A bank on the south side of the inner bailey is
c.0.75m high and c.3m wide. The ditch between the inner bailey and the outer
bailey, to the south, is 7m wide and 1m deep to the top of the bank of the
inner bailey, and 2m deep to the top of the bank of the outer bailey. The
outer bailey stands c.1m higher than the inner bailey. The bank on the north
edge of the outer bailey is c.0.6m high and c.3m wide, and the bank on the
west side of the bailey is of similar dimensions. The outer bailey is c.50m
north-south and c.25m east-west, and the ditch on its south side is c.7m wide
and c.1m deep. Along the east side of both inner and outer baileys is a c.1m
drop to a stream. On the west side the inner bailey stands 4m higher than
ground level, and the outer bailey stands 5m higher than ground level.
The outer bailey is marked by the OS as `Site of Church', but there is no
evidence on the ground to support an ecclesiastical foundation here, and the
nature of the earthwork supports the premise that it is part of the motte and
bailey castle.

The post and wire fence around the west and south sides of the motte and the
east side of the inner and outer bailey, is excluded from the scheduling, but
the ground beneath is included.

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 known as `Ballands Castle' survives well and will
contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the
motte and bailey and the landscape in which it was constructed. Ballands
Castle, together with a similar site c.1.8km to the north east at Row Farm and
another in Cockroad Wood c.1.4km to the north west, form a small localised
cluster, and will provide information about the Norman settlement of this part
of Somerset.

Source: Historic England

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