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Castle Neroche: a motte and bailey castle and earlier defences above Castle Plantation

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Castle Neroche: a motte and bailey castle and earlier defences above Castle Plantation

List entry Number: 1008252

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Somerset

District: South Somerset

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Buckland St. Mary

County: Somerset

District: Taunton Deane

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Curland

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 12-Feb-1925

Date of most recent amendment: 20-Apr-1994

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 24006

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 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.

Castle Neroche survives as a fine example of its class and is of interest as excavations have shown its development from an earlier Norman ringwork and perhaps originally from an Iron Age or Saxon fortification.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes a motte and bailey castle associated with multi-phase defensive enclosures on a spur of land protruding from the Blackdown escarpment. The site commands extensive views northwards over the Vale of Taunton Deane. Partial excavation has identified four phases of construction. The outer defence consisting of a rampart 1.6m high and a ditch c.0.5m deep is undated but considered to be earliest, part of either an Iron Age hillfort or perhaps an Anglo-Saxon work. The second phase was the construction of a ringwork, probably early Norman, within this enclosure. The ramparts of this have been heightened by later works. An unfinished outer work associated with it, consisting of a rampart 1m high and a ditch 0.7m deep, was seen by the excavator as an attempt to reduce the area of the old enclosure. The next phase saw the construction of a motte and ditch over the north edge of the ringwork, the remainder of which was heightened to form a bank 3m-4m high and became a sub-rectangular bailey. At some stage a second line of ramparts 1.3m high with ditches 1.7m deep was added around this, creating three lines of ramparts. One corner of the bailey was subdivided to form a barbican. Down the north tip of the spur in an area not investigated by excavation, below the motte, are two lines of scarps, with a lobed or sub-rectangular bailey at the foot. This bailey encloses 0.18 ha., with an internal bank dividing it into two, and is defended by a steeply scarped face up to 2m high with a bank 0.5m high on top, a ditch 0.5m deep at the bottom, and a counterscarp bank 0.5m high outside the ditch. In the final phase a stone shell keep and curtain wall were added to the top of the motte, and the ruins of these were noted in 1854. There is a pillow mound - a low linear mound for keeping rabbits - within the outer defences. The construction of the ringwork took place soon after the Norman Conquest and it may have been used in the suppression of local disturbances in 1067-9. The later building of the motte and bailey castle is likely to have taken place under Robert de Mortain, a major landowner in the west country from the Conquest to 1103. The castle seems to have passed out of use by the early C12 but was refurbished for a time, probably during the Anarchy of King Stephen's reign, by the construction of the curtain wall and keep on the motte. Excavations within the castle have produced evidence of cobbled building footings, post-holes and local pottery of northern French style. In the 19th century, a farm was constructed within the inner bailey, and this continues in use today. Sand diggings have left deep hollows in the outer areas of the site, which on the surface can be confused with the castle ditches. The extent of the area of the scheduling is indicated on the mapped depiction, and includes a 10m wide strip in the field on the south-west. Excluded from the scheduling are all modern buildings, structures, fences and posts, though the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Davison, B K, 'Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Nat.Hist. Society' in Castle Neroche, , Vol. 116, (1972), 16-58
Davison, B K, 'Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Nat.Hist. Society' in Castle Neroche, , Vol. 116, (1972), 16-58
Davison, B K, 'Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Nat.Hist. Society' in Castle Neroche, , Vol. 116, (1972), 16-58
Other
Castle Neroche 43844,

National Grid Reference: ST 27202 15708

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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This copy shows the entry on 20-Nov-2017 at 12:08:35.

End of official listing