Motte castle known as Bossiney Castle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


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

Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SX 06572 88762

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-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 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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle. Despite some reduction in the height of the earthworks through subsequent landscaping and building, the motte castle known as Bossiney Castle survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, use, social, political, economic and military significance, domestic arrangements, abandonment and overall landscape context.


The monument includes a motte situated in the heart of Bossiney on a prominent coastal ridge overlooking Bossiney Haven. The motte survives as a circular mound measuring up to 46m in diameter at the base and up to 5.9m high, surrounded by a partially buried outer ditch measuring up to 20m wide and 0.9m deep. The earthworks are best preserved on the northern side. Bossiney Castle is associated with the Domesday manor of Botcinnii held by Robert Count of Mortain in 1086. He was responsible for building castles at Launceston and Trematon and may have built Bossiney Castle or it might have been constructed by the Earls of Cornwall or their tenant in the 12th century. It was replaced by the nearby Tintagel Castle as the centre of power by the mid-13th century. Bossiney became a borough at this time and elections were held on the motte. It was recorded by Maclaughlan in 1852 and has been re-surveyed several times since. Modern buildings within the monument are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath them is included.

Sources: HER:- PastScape Monument No:-431892


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

Legacy System number:
CO 83
Legacy System:


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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