Ancient Monuments

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Chideock Castle: a moated site and associated features 520m south west of Chideock Manor

A Scheduled Monument in Chideock, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.7343 / 50°44'3"N

Longitude: -2.8182 / 2°49'5"W

OS Eastings: 342351.12108

OS Northings: 93060.895747

OS Grid: SY423930

Mapcode National: GBR PM.V6S8

Mapcode Global: FRA 47Z4.HW8

Entry Name: Chideock Castle: a moated site and associated features 520m south west of Chideock Manor

Scheduled Date: 25 February 1953

Last Amended: 29 October 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017033

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31076

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Chideock

Built-Up Area: Chideock

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Chideock St Giles

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes Chideock Castle, the earthwork remains of a moated site
of manorial status and associated enclosures, fish ponds, building platforms
and terraces within the field known as Ruins Field. The site was surveyed and
mapped by students from Bournemouth University in 1977 and 1993.
The moat and site occupies a west facing slope on an outcrop of marl and clay
which extends to a stream to the west. A square platform, 42m across,
containing earthworks which reflect the positions of previous buildings, is
surrounded by a deep moat, on average 15m wide and 2.5m deep. The gatehouse
was located at the south eastern corner of the platform, where the moat was
probably originally bridged; there is now a modern causeway at this point. The
moat on the eastern side is now partly filled in and the eastern edge of it is
buried under soil deriving from the field up slope. The ditch on the northern
side has been filled in and a series of terraces constructed over it, possibly
for agricultural use or landscaping associated with the later use of the site
when the moat ditch was no longer in use. The moat is now largely dry.
Hutchins reported in 1866 that the moat was fed by lead pipes from a spring
rising at the foot of Quarry Hill to the east, although this could not be
verified on the ground. The narrowing of the moat ditch on the north eastern
corner may suggest a sluice to control water levels. Channels run westwards
from the moat down to two fishponds. Other platforms and banks in this area
may also indicate building sites and horticultural activities. Platforms and
other earthworks to the east of the moat ditch probably also represent the
sites of outbuildings. A lynchet, which runs north-south from the southern
edge of the moat, appears to predate it and may be associated with the bank
and ditch running down slope to the west, enclosing what may have been an
earlier field. The whole complex covers about 4.2ha and is enclosed by a bank,
which now supports a hedge and which may define the original boundary.
Documentary evidence indicates that the manor of Chideock was given to Sir
Thomas le Brithun in 1248. In the late 13th century the manor passed to John
Gervase who was granted a licence to crenellate his hall. Licences to
crenellate were also granted in the late 14th century. The house was built in
stone with later brick additions and was destroyed in the Civil War. The ruins
of the gatehouse were still visible in 1733 when they were pictured in an
engraving by Buck, showing a tower at each corner, but were destroyed by the
middle of the 18th century.
A wooden cross on a bonded stone base in the centre of the platform
commemorates the seven Roman Catholic Chideock martyrs executed in the 1590s.
All fence and gate posts, the cross, overhead electricity supply poles and the
stone trough are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches,
often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more
islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some
cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites
served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the
provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was
between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in
central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built
throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and
exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a
significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding
of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples
provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

Chideock Castle is a well preserved example of a moated site in an area of the
country where moats are rare. It will contain archaeological and environmental
remains providing information about medieval society, economy and landscape.
The survival of external features surrounding the moat provides an unusual and
significant association allowing a fuller understanding of the nature and
development of the site.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hutchins, J, History of Dorset: Volume II, (1863), 258-9
Manuscript report, Gale J, Chideock Castle: A preliminary report on a geophysical survey, (1994)
Manuscript report, Upton, K, The Moated Sites of Dorset, (1978)

Source: Historic England

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