Ballands Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014713

Date first listed: 08-Oct-1954

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Jul-1996


Ordnance survey map of Ballands Castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Jan-2019 at 12:43:41.


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

County: Somerset

District: South Somerset (District Authority)

Parish: Pen Selwood

National Grid Reference: ST 75360 31017


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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

The motte and bailey known as `Ballands Castle' survives well and will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the motte and bailey and the landscape in which it was constructed. Ballands Castle, together with a similar site c.1.8km to the north east at Row Farm and another in Cockroad Wood c.1.4km to the north west, form a small localised cluster, and will provide information about the Norman settlement of this part of Somerset.


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


The monument includes a motte and bailey castle built on a natural terrace on a west facing hillside which slopes down to a stream. The motte and an additional mound are at the north of the site, with the inner bailey and an outer bailey extending to the south.

The motte is a flat topped mound, 3m high, the top c.9m north-south by c.14m east-west, surrounded by a ditch c.7m wide and c.1m deep. Beyond the ditch on the west side is an additional mound thought to represent an outwork. This has dimensions of c.35m north-south, c.8m east-west and c.1m high.

To the south of the motte are two baileys. The inner bailey measures 25m north-south and 16m east-west. A bank on the south side of the inner bailey is c.0.75m high and c.3m wide. The ditch between the inner bailey and the outer bailey, to the south, is 7m wide and 1m deep to the top of the bank of the inner bailey, and 2m deep to the top of the bank of the outer bailey. The outer bailey stands c.1m higher than the inner bailey. The bank on the north edge of the outer bailey is c.0.6m high and c.3m wide, and the bank on the west side of the bailey is of similar dimensions. The outer bailey is c.50m north-south and c.25m east-west, and the ditch on its south side is c.7m wide and c.1m deep. Along the east side of both inner and outer baileys is a c.1m drop to a stream. On the west side the inner bailey stands 4m higher than ground level, and the outer bailey stands 5m higher than ground level. The outer bailey is marked by the OS as `Site of Church', but there is no evidence on the ground to support an ecclesiastical foundation here, and the nature of the earthwork supports the premise that it is part of the motte and bailey castle.

The post and wire fence around the west and south sides of the motte and the east side of the inner and outer bailey, is excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath is included.

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: 22074

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing