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Motte with two baileys and a multivallate hillfort at Burley Wood

A Scheduled Monument in Bridestowe, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6669 / 50°40'0"N

Longitude: -4.1295 / 4°7'46"W

OS Eastings: 249604.105349

OS Northings: 87415.347396

OS Grid: SX496874

Mapcode National: GBR NX.7740

Mapcode Global: FRA 2779.WK4

Entry Name: Motte with two baileys and a multivallate hillfort at Burley Wood

Scheduled Date: 10 August 1923

Last Amended: 4 February 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018519

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30350

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Bridestowe

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Bridestowe

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes a motte with two baileys and an Iron Age hillfort with
multiple defences lying juxtaposed on a prominent ridge overlooking the
valleys of the River Lew and one of its major tributaries in an area known as
Burley Wood.
The monument survives as a prominent motte with two baileys to its north west
and a large oval enclosure defined by ramparts and an outer ditch with a
series of smaller enclosures, and five outer defensive ramparts and ditches to
the south.
The motte is a circular mound which measures 44m in diameter and is up to 4m
high. On the summit are two roughly oval depressions. Surrounding the mound is
a ditch which measures up to 4m wide and 1.2m deep. Immediately to the west of
the motte is a `D' shaped bailey. This is enclosed by a rampart which measures
up to 8.5m wide and 0.9m high internally enclosing an area which measures
36.2m long by 19.6m wide maximum. This bailey is largely level. Beyond the
rampart is a ditch which measures up to 5m wide and 1.2m deep. To the north
and west of the first bailey lies a second outer bailey which is defined by
another rampart and outer ditch. The rampart measures 3.2m wide and up to 0.3m
high internally. The ditch measures 4.9m wide and is up to 0.8m deep. This
rampart encloses an area which measures 38m long by 35m wide maximum, although
the width decreases to 14.5m in the west. This bailey also slopes to the north
and east. Beyond the rampart and ditch is a further defensive outer bank which
sits on the summit of the steep natural slope. This measures up to 3m wide and
2.3m high externally.
To the south west of the motte, at some 36m distance, lies a hillfort. This
consists of a roughly oval enclosure which measures 144m long from east to
west and 94m wide internally. The enclosure is defined by a double rampart and
ditch. The outermost ditch is preserved mainly as a buried feature. The outer
rampart bank measures up to 9m wide and is 1.3m high; the inner ditch is up to
7.2m wide and 0.8m deep; the inner rampart measures up to 6.8m wide and 2.2m
high. On the southern side of the hillfort are a series of irregularly shaped
defended enclosures. The first of these is roughly rectangular in shape and
the whole is enclosed by a bank which measures up to 3.6m wide and 1.2m high.
This is surrounded by a ditch up to 6.3m wide and 0.8m deep. To the south east
are two roughly circular quarry type depressions the largest of which is up to
10m in diameter and 2.2m deep. Beyond these lies a further substantial outer
bank which surrounds the first enclosure and merges with the outer rampart of
the hillfort, then extends to enclose a further area which measures 104m long
by 42.6m wide maximum. The bank itself measures up to 5.3m wide and 1.3m high
internally. Within this enclosure is a clearly defined entrance to the south
On this southern side of the hillfort, local topography has necessitated the
use of further ramparts and ditches which are not present on any other side of
the monument. The first bank has been fossilised within an existing field
boundary and measures up to 4.3m wide and 1.3m high. The ditch for this bank
is preserved as a buried feature. Further south and parallel to this bank is
the second rampart and ditch. The rampart measures up to 4.2m wide and 0.5m
high. The ditch is up to 4.1m wide and 0.3m deep. This has been cut at its
western end by a farm road. Further south again lies the third rampart which
is less obvious and possibly marks the position of a naturally occurring
geological feature, since there is no obvious ditch. It measures up to 4m wide
and 0.5m high. Further south again lies a fourth rampart with outer ditch. The
rampart measures up to 9.2m wide maximum and 1.6m high. The ditch measures up
to 9.4m wide and 0.4m deep. This rampart has a central entrance which measures
up to 24m wide and is slightly in turned. The fifth and outermost rampart lies
further south again. This links two naturally steep valley slopes to form a
major defensive outer line and thus cut off the promontory. The outer rampart
measures up to 4.8m wide maximum and 2.5m high. The outer ditch measures up to
8.9m wide and up to 2m deep maximum. This is a long defensive line and has
been cut in several places over the years to provide access to fields. Within
the upper fill of the ditch a stone built farm building was erected and a well
sunk, probably during the 19th century, this building, its track and well are
still extant.
The building, now being used as a field barn, and field boundaries are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.
The well is totally excluded from the scheduling.

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.

Despite afforestation and agricultural activity, the motte with two baileys
and multivallate hillfort at Burley Wood survive well and provide an unusual
example of defences of very different periods lying adjacent to each other. In
most instances where Iron Age and medieval defences share a hilltop, the
earlier hillfort is reused. There is however no evidence of this having
happened at Burley Wood and therefore the earlier hillfort remains intact.

Source: Historic England


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX48NE5, (1987)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX48NE6, (1992)

Source: Historic England

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