Reasons for Designation
Motte 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-bai1ey 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 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 and motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. Some 100-150 examples do not have baileys and are classified as motte castles. 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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle. The motte castle 80m north west of the church at Week St Mary survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, longevity, strategic, political, social and economic significance, abandonment and overall landscape context.
The monument includes a motte castle situated on the northern side of the settlement of Week St Mary. The castle survives as a circular mound measuring 32m in diameter and standing up to 1.5m high. It is surrounded by a largely buried outer ditch up to 5m wide and 0.4m deep which is broken by a causeway to the north east. The top of the mound has an encircling bank up to 0.7m high which is thought to represent the base of a palisade, and in the centre is a platform measuring 11m long, 8m wide and up to 0.3m high representing the possible base of a tower.
Although no medieval documentation relating to the castle is known to survive, it is thought to have been built in the late 11th or early 12th century by Richard Fitz Turold, owner of the manor of Week at Domesday, or by an immediate descendant. Shortly afterwards it would have been tenanted by the de Wykes. Full occupation of the castle probably ceased after the marriage of Isabella (the last of the de Wykes) to Ranulph De Blanchminster, whose principal residence was at Stratton. Week St Mary was known in the past as St Mary Wyke and taxed as a borough in 1306 - 7 at which time it had a mayor and burgages. Although recognised by antiquarians, Henderson in the 1920's was the first to positively identify the castle. The entire complex of earthworks was surveyed in the 1980's by the Cornwall Committee for Rescue Archaeology.
PastScape Monument No:-436512