Motte and bailey castle and associated earthworks south of Locking Head Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1008301
Date first listed: 13-Dec-1977
Date of most recent amendment: 20-May-1994
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This copy shows the entry on 25-Apr-2019 at 19:25:00.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: North Somerset (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: ST 36373 60881
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were superseded by other types of castle.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 motte and bailey castle south of Locking Head Farm survives particularly well as an outstanding example of its class. Partial excavation of the site in 1902-3 has demonstrated that archaeological and environmental information will survive relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.
The monument includes a motte and bailey castle and associated earthworks
situated south of Locking Head Farm on the top of a small knoll known as
The motte, which is at the south end of the site, has an artificial mound
c.20m in diameter and c.3m high surrounded by a ditch c.3m wide from which
material was quarried during its construction. The ditch is now infilled but
is visible as a slight depression and as an area of enhanced crop growth,
caused by increased moisture in the area of the buried ditch.
Partial excavations on the mound in 1902-3 revealed the presence of 12th
century pottery and a coin of Edward IV-V. The presence of a small dry stone
walled structure was also identified on the top of the mound.
Adjacent to the motte on its northern side is the bailey. This is defined on
the western side of the monument by a bank c.60m long and c.1.5m high and an
external ditch which runs parallel with the bank and joins with the ditch of
the motte. The remainder of the bailey is defined by the natural steep slopes
of the hilltop which provides a good defensive position over the surrounding
levels. The interior of the bailey contains traces of earthworks which are
considered to relate to the occupation of the site during the medieval period.
Outside and to the west of the bailey are further earthworks including a
possible pillow mound c.10m long, c.2m wide and c.0.4m high.
Excluded from the scheduling are the fence posts of the field boundaries and
the water tank, although the underlying ground is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 22825
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Burrow, E J, Ancient Earthworks and camps of Somerset, (1924), 120
Motte and bailey classification, Leach PE, Motte and Bailey Castles, Monument Class Description, (1988)
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