Motte and bailey castle known as Bampton Castle.
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 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. 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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle. Bampton Castle survives well, despite reduction to the northern rampart. The motte is particularly steeply sided and striking. Bampton Castle will contain buried layers, deposits and structures containing important archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, use and landscape setting.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 3 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 known as Bampton Castle situated on a prominent ridge with commanding views over the valleys of the River Exe and the River Batherm and of Bampton. The monument survives as a flat topped circular mound up to 60m in diameter with an outer partially buried ditch with a rectangular enclosure to the east measuring up to 75m long by 70m wide internally defined by a substantial bank and ditch to the south and east, the motte to the west and a buried ditch to the north. To the east is an outer counterscarp bank. On the north eastern edge of the bailey is a further circular mound possibly a tower. On the summit of the motte are the remains of a substantial building with breastwork formed by banks up to 0.6m high. Bampton was possibly the castle of Robert de Bathetona mentioned in the 1135 ‘Gesta Stephani’. Robert of Bampton was besieged by King Stephen here in 1136. In 1336 Coggin obtained a licence to crenellate his house, probably this castle and it is shown on Donn’s map of 1765. From 1961 to 1972 partial excavations revealed a large rock cut ditch to the northern side of the bailey running east to west.