A motte and bailey castle 220m north-west of Woodford Bridge.
Reasons for Designation
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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 being bisected by a field boundary and some limited quarrying the motte and bailey castle 220m north west of Woodford Bridge survives comparatively well and occupies a commanding position above a natural fording place over the River Torridge. The weakest side to its natural defences i.e. the west and south west are protected by an additional bank and ditch creating a more unusual barbican outside the bailey entrance. The motte and bailey will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, use, abandonment, military and social significance, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 11 November 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
This monument includes a motte and bailey castle situated at the north eastern end of a broad prominent ridge overlooking the very steep sided valley of the River Torridge. The motte survives as a circular mound measuring approximately 20m in diameter at the base and up to 2.4m high, with an elliptical top which measures up to 16m long by 10m wide. The base of the mound is surrounded by a ditch of up to 6m wide and 1m deep. The bailey survives as a roughly rectangular enclosure measuring 27m long by 23m wide internally and lies on lower ground to the north east of the motte. It is defined by an outer bank which measures up to 7m wide and 2.7m high and is surrounded by an approximately 5m wide and 0.8m deep outer ditch. To the north east both the outer ditch and bank terminate abruptly and make use of the naturally steep scarp. The bailey entrance is to the west and is protected both by the motte and an outer rectangular enclosure defined by a bank measuring 2m wide and 0.2m high with an outer 2m wide and 0.2m deep ditch, probably a barbican. A similar sized ditch and bank run parallel to and 5m out from the motte ditch on the south western side.