Sturminster Castle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Dorset (Unitary Authority)
Sturminster Newton
National Grid Reference:
ST 78394 13421


Promontory fort re-used as a fortified medieval manor house at Castle Farm.

Reasons for Designation

Promontory forts are a type of hillfort in which conspicuous naturally defended sites are adapted as enclosures by the construction of one or more earth or stone ramparts placed across the neck of a spur in order to divide it from the surrounding land. Coastal situations, using headlands defined by steep natural cliffs, are common while inland similar topographic settings defined by natural cliffs are also used. The ramparts and accompanying ditches formed the main artificial defence, but timber palisades may have been erected along the cliff edges. Access to the interior was generally provided by an entrance through the ramparts. The interior of the fort was used intensively for settlement and related activities, and evidence for timber- and stone- walled round houses can be expected, together with the remains of buildings used for storage and enclosures for animals. Promontory forts are generally Iron Age in date, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are broadly contemporary with other types of hillfort. They are regarded as settlements of high status, probably occupied on a permanent basis, and recent interpretations suggest that their construction and choice of location had as much to do with display as defence. Promontory forts are rare nationally with less than 100 recorded examples. Manor houses were the major dwellings of local aristocracy who controlled the associated estates and the lives of those who dwelled and worked within them. They reflect the relative importance of the Lord of the manor some with Royal connections and are of key importance for understanding social, political, strategic and economic conditions and developments during the medieval and later periods during the rise of feudalism following the Norman Conquest. Despite adaptive re-use and later agricultural activity the promontory fort re-used as a fortified medieval manor at Castle Farm survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, periods of adaptive re-use, longevity, strategic, economic and political significance, agricultural practices, domestic arrangements, abandonment and overall landscape context throughout a prolonged time period.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 16 December 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 promontory fort re-used as a medieval manor house and a length of lynchet situated on a steep spur on the southern valley side of the River Stour commanding a natural crossing place in the settlement of Newton. The promontory fort survives as a single curving rampart bank of up to 12m wide and 3m high and an outer ditch of up to 18m wide and 6m deep which originally enclosed the tip of the spur representing an area of approximately 1ha. The lynchet is situated west of the promontory fort and forms part of a field system. The interior of the promontory fort was subsequently re-used as a medieval fortified manor house and one building which survives as a roofless structure of three storeys, contains many architectural features such as arched doorways, a solar with fireplace on the first floor, a staircase leading to a chamber above and beneath part of the service range which lead to the butteries and kitchen. This building dates to the 14th century. Beyond the building to the north east are several low banks and scarps indicating further largely buried buildings and structures and elsewhere within the enclosure are further banks and hollows indicating yards and other ancillary buildings. The manor house is that of Newton Manor, acquired by Glastonbury Abbey in 968 AD and retained until the Dissolution. Known locally as ‘Sturminster Castle’ it has been misidentified as a motte and bailey castle in the past.

The upstanding building is listed Grade II*.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
DO 129
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument No:-202251


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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