Motte and bailey castle in Cockroad Wood


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1008256.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 21-Jan-2021 at 21:47:37.


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

South Somerset (District Authority)
Charlton Musgrove
National Grid Reference:
ST 74618 32147

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

The site in Cockroad Wood survives as a particularly intact and undisturbed example of the class, and is one of a number of motte and bailey castles in the area.


The monument includes a motte and bailey castle on the western edge of a summit outlying the hills of the Somerset/Wiltshire border. The site would have commanded extensive views although it is at present surrounded by conifer plantation. The castle includes a motte lying on the east edge of the site between two external baileys, the larger rectangular bailey on the level ground to the south and a small sub-triangular bailey sloping down to the north-west. The motte is a conical mound 6m-7.5m high and c.13m broad on the top, with an uneven surface, and is ditched except on the steep west side. The rectangular bailey has an internal area of 0.3 ha., defended by a bank 1.5m high internally and a ditch 1.5m-2m deep externally, with a counterscarp bank up to 1m high on the south-west. The defences become a scarp and terrace on the steeper west side. On the far side of the ramparts from the motte there is a projecting terrace between the bank and ditch, and it is possible that this formed an abutment for a bridge. The bailey is subdivided by internal banks, or perhaps raised walkways, into three smaller areas, at the junction of which is a slight platform. The smaller bailey encloses 0.07 ha within a bank up to 1.5m high, a ditch up to 1.5m deep, and a counterscarp bank up to 1m high. The banks of the baileys separate them from the ditched motte. The bailey defences adjoin on the west and run up to the motte either side of a neck of ground. There are no obvious entrances to the castle, suggesting the use of bridges, walkways and steps. There is another motte and bailey castle 2.5km to the east in Wiltshire, and a possible site at Ballands Castle 1.5km to the south-east. The castle was in the medieval parish of Wincanton, the manor of which, together with Castle Cary and Bridgwater (both with a castle), was held at the time of the Domesday survey by Walter of Douai. By the reign of Henry II the hills in which Cockroad Wood castle was situated had become a royal forest and the castle would have been redundant.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Aston, M, Burrow, I (eds) , The Archaeology of Somerset, (1982), 125
Dunning, Dr R, (1993)


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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].