Castle mound (or Castle Hill)
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1004560
Date first listed: 15-Oct-1924
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: East Dorset (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SU 05970 12638
Motte and bailey castle at Castle Hill.
Reasons for Designation
Cranborne Chase is an area of chalkland well known for its high number, density and diversity of archaeological remains. These include a rare combination of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age sites, comprising one of the largest concentrations of burial monuments in England, the largest known cursus (a linear ritual monument) and a significant number and range of henge monuments (Late Neolithic ceremonial centres). Other important remains include a variety of enclosures, settlements, field systems and linear boundaries which date throughout prehistory and into the Romano-British and medieval periods. This high level of survival of archaeological remains is due largely to the later history of the Chase. Cranborne Chase formed a Royal Hunting Ground from at least Norman times, and much of the archaeological survival within the area resulted from associated laws controlling land-use which applied until 1830. The unique archaeological character of the Chase has attracted much attention over the years, notably during the later 19th century, by the pioneering work on the Chase of General Pitt-Rivers, Sir Richard Colt Hoare and Edward Cunnington, often regarded as the fathers of British archaeology. Archaeological investigations have continued throughout the 20th century and to the present day.
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 a subsequent horse burial the motte and bailey castle at Castle Hill survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, longevity, territorial, strategic, political, social and economic significance, domestic arrangements, trade, abandonment, function and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 15 December 2015. The 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.
The monument includes a motte and bailey castle situated on the summit of the prominent Castle Hill overlooking the valley of the River Crane. The castle survives as a circular mound or motte measuring up to 54m in diameter and 8.5m high surrounded by a partially buried ditch with outer rampart bank to the north and west and to the east is a crescent shaped bailey defined by a rampart bank of up to 7.6m high and a similar partially buried outer ditch. A narrow causeway, possibly the original entrance way crosses the ditch at the southern end of the bailey. On the summit of the motte is a mound which measures up to 1.3m high. This mound was raised by LDG Tregonwell in the 19th century over the burial site of two of his favourite horses. The castle is known locally as ‘Castle Mound’.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: DO 17
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape Monument No:-213663
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