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were superseded by other types of castle.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 Dykes is a well preserved example of a substantial but isolated motte
and bailey castle with two well-defined inner baileys, and an embanked outer
bailey. The undisturbed remains of the motte mound contain foundations of a
stone castle, making this one of the best surviving examples of its type in
The monument consists of the motte and bailey castle known as Castle Dykes
which lies to the north of the village of Farthingstone.
The mound of the castle motte stands 5m above the surrounding ditch and is
about 80m in diameter at its base. The remains of stone walls are
identifiable on the motte mound. The motte is centrally placed between two
lateral inner baileys which lie to east and west of the motte. The baileys
consist of well defined floor areas, approximately 70m wide in the west
bailey and about 62m wide in the east bailey. Both are surrounded by a
substantial bank 3m high. To the north of the motte and inner baileys lies
the outer bailey which measures about 108m x 110m. The whole monument is
enclosed by a large ditch up to 3m deep, with an outer bank up to 2.5m high.
A causeway crosses the ditch and provides access from the outer bailey to the
western inner bailey.
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.