Motte castle 20m west of Great Somerford Church
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Sep-2019 at 21:18:08.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
- Great Somerford
- National Grid Reference:
- ST 96384 83099
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-bai1ey 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the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other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.
The Great Somerford motte survives well and is one of few such monuments surviving in the south of England. The importance of the site is enhanced by the likelihood of the survival of below-ground waterlogged and organic remains, as a result of its location on the floodplain of the River Avon. These remains will give a detailed insight into the economy of the people who inhabited the site and the environment in which they lived.
The monument includes a motte castle set on low-lying level ground immediately
south of the River Avon. It survives as a steep-sided earthen mound 3.4m high
and 40m in diameter with a flat top 25m across. Excavations on the mound in
1811 and again in 1910 produced medieval pottery and the remains of a 12th
century building comprising walls and semi-circular arched windows; a quantity
of charcoal and ashes suggests the building was destroyed by fire. A ditch,
from which earth was quarried during the construction of the monument,
surrounds the motte. This has become largely infilled over the years although
traces are still visible as a low earthwork to the east of the mound. The
motte could be one of three castles known to have been built near Malmesbury
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
'Wiltshire Notes and Queries' in Wiltshire Notes and Queries, , Vol. 2, ()
'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine: Volume 45, , Vol. 11, ()
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