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Ringwork and bailey at Motleys Copse

A Scheduled Monument in Rowlands Castle, Hampshire

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Latitude: 50.9046 / 50°54'16"N

Longitude: -0.9706 / 0°58'13"W

OS Eastings: 472480.866626

OS Northings: 112182.523138

OS Grid: SU724121

Mapcode National: GBR CDF.7F7

Mapcode Global: FRA 86VQ.9PY

Entry Name: Ringwork and bailey at Motleys Copse

Scheduled Date: 5 February 1951

Last Amended: 24 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019110

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32546

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: Rowlands Castle

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Blendworth Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Portsmouth


The monument includes a ringwork and bailey of probable 11th or 12th century
date, situated on level ground within Motleys Copse, near Rowlands Castle. The
ringwork includes a low circular platform, 35m in diameter and raised up to
1m high, enclosed by a substantial defensive bank and outer ditch. It is
internally subdivided by two low earthen banks with flint foundations which
radiate from a central well surviving as a shallow circular pit, 6m wide.
The larger bailey abuts the ringwork to the west. It sits level with the
surrounding woodland and forms a semicircular area, approximately 80m by 60m
in diameter. It is enclosed by a bank and outer ditch which close to within
20m of the ringwork to the south, but these have been cut by a later quarry
pit where they approach the ringwork on the northern side.
The defences are relatively uniform around the circumference of the monument,
but are most impressive on the south side of the ringwork where the bank and
ditch are each 9m wide and the bank is raised up to 1.5m above the interior
and 3.5m above the ditch. The gap between the ringwork and bailey ramparts at
this point may have provided an original entrance. Additional entrances are
provided by three causeways which span the bailey defences at regular
intervals on the western and northern sides, and by a similar causeway between
the bailey and the ringwork, although these are probably trackway features
associated with the later use of the site.
Two intersecting crescent shaped banks and ditches, of similar proportions to
the outer ramparts, subdivide the bailey into two inner loops and a large
outer area, significantly strengthening the ringwork's defences on its western
approach. The main, outer area of the bailey is further subdivided by a linear
ditch, 0.3m deep and 6m wide, which is included in the scheduling where it
projects from the southern ditch terminal for 87m to the south east. It links
the monument with a series of intersecting enclosure banks and/or trackways
situated 80m further to the south east, some of which were the subject of
archaeological excavations in 1984 which indicated they may be contemporary
features. A further series of banks which skirt the ringwork to the north and
east are associated with the later enclosure of the site for woodland and are
therefore not included in the scheduling, except where they project onto the
The construction and use of the monument has not been accurately dated,
although medieval pottery has been recovered from within the ringwork. Its
location within the boundaries of the medieval royal hunting forest of Bere
and the Hundred of Finchdean, owned by Robert, Earl of Arundel, suggests it
may form one of a number of strongholds he defended against Henry I before
being banished from the kingdom in 1101. A smaller motte situated
approximately 200m to the south west may represent an earlier defence or a
contemporary seige castle and is the subject of a separate scheduling.
A number of wooden pheasant pens situated on the monument are excluded from
the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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

Ringworks are medieval fortifications built and occupied from the late
Anglo-Saxon period to the later 12th century. They comprised a small defended
area containing buildings which was surrounded or partly surrounded by a
substantial ditch and a bank surmounted by a timber palisade or, rarely, a
stone wall. Occasionally a more lightly defended embanked enclosure, the
bailey, adjoined the ringwork. Ringworks acted as strongholds for military
operations and in some cases as defended aristocratic or manorial settlements.
They are rare nationally with only 200 recorded examples and less than 60
with baileys. As such, and as one of a limited number and very restricted
range of Anglo-Saxon and Norman fortifications, ringworks are of particular
significance to our understanding of the period.

The ringwork and bailey at Motleys Copse survives well despite some
disturbance by later quarrying, and has previously been described by J P
Williams-Freeman as `one of the most complete and perfect of Norman remains in
Hampshire.' It can be expected to retain important archaeological remains and
environmental evidence relating to the original construction of the monument
and its later use. It forms part of a group of three or four well preserved
mottes and ringworks, including Rowlands Castle to the south east, which lie
in close proximity within the boundaries of the medieval forest of Bere, and
for which documentary evidence survives of an historical association with
Robert, Earl of Arundel.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cox, P W, The survey and excavation of earthworks near Motley's Copse, (1984)
Cox, P W, The survey and excavation of earthworks near Motley's Copse, (1984)
Hughes, M, Settlement and landscape in medieval Hampshire75,77
Williams-Freeman, JP, Introduction to field archaeology as illustrated by Hampshire, (1915), 379
Hughes, M F, 'Landscape Hist' in Hampshire Castles and the Landscape 1066-1216, , Vol. 11, (1989), 56

Source: Historic England

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