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Croft Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Winkleigh, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.8556 / 50°51'20"N

Longitude: -3.9468 / 3°56'48"W

OS Eastings: 263065.037438

OS Northings: 108035.6506

OS Grid: SS630080

Mapcode National: GBR KW.VHYR

Mapcode Global: FRA 26MV.25Q

Entry Name: Croft Castle

Scheduled Date: 24 October 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018011

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30303

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Winkleigh

Built-Up Area: Winkleigh

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Winkleigh All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Details

The monument includes a medieval ringwork, known as Croft Castle which is
located on a ridge overlooking the valley of the Bullow Brook to the south. It
lies in the village of Winkleigh, to the west of its centre. To the north east
lies a second medieval castle which is also in the village and is the subject
of a separate scheduling.
This monument survives as an oval mound, although part of the rampart which
originally enclosed the summit of the mound also remains. The ditch
surrounding the mound is preserved mainly as a buried feature, although its
extent appears to be fossilised in the adjacent road and boundary layouts.
The mound itself measures 45m from north east to south west and 42m from north
west to south east. Where it has been cut to produce a platform for the
village hall it is up to 2.7m high, but the arc which survives uncut, on the
eastern side, is up to 4.5m high. A portion of the rampart which originally
enclosed the hollow centre of the mound survives. It measures 7m wide at the
top. The western side of the mound remains largely intact to a height of 2.7m,
although the upper sections have been removed to facilitate the construction
of the village hall. The hall also has a small cellar which has cut into the
mound on its north western side. To the south, the mound has been cut to
enable the construction of a stone-built retaining wall which prevents
subsidence from the mound onto the public highway. This retaining wall
continues around the base of the mound as it passes an adjacent building
called Castle School. The gatepiers and adjoining walls to the north east of
the monument are Listed Grade II.
The ditch which surrounds the mound is preserved largely as a buried
feature. On the south eastern side, the alignment of the public highway
indicates the line of the ditch. A 6.7m wide vehicular access to the rear of
the village hall follows the line of the ditch around the base of the mound
from the north of the monument to the east. However, this feature is not as
wide as the original ditch which extends into the garden of an adjacent
property. Within this property, the edge of the ditch appears to be marked by
a coursed stone retaining wall, 6m beyond and parallel to the edge of the
track. On the south western side, the ditch has been cut by the construction
of a building, Castle School Rooms, dated to 1840 and Listed Grade II. The
gardens of this building are seen to curve around to the north east thus
following the line of the original ditch.
The castle is thought to have been founded in the mid 1100s, possibly in
opposition to the nearby Court Castle, and by the 13th century it certainly
formed part of a separate manor.
The village hall, Castle School Rooms and the road surface of Castle Street
are all excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these
features is included.

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

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.

Despite some damage, Croft Castle survives comparatively well, contains
archaeological information relating to Norman military activity in this part
of Devon and forms a notable landscape feature within the village of
Winkleigh. The proximity of this castle to another one in the village is
unusual.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Probert, S A J, Dunn, C J, Croft Castle, Winkleigh, Devon : A new survey by the RCHME, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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