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Sherborne Old Castle

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Sherborne Old Castle

List entry Number: 1015328

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: West Dorset

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Castleton

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 09-Oct-1981

Date of most recent amendment: 03-Jul-1997

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 22986

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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

Reasons for Designation

An enclosure castle is a defended residence or stronghold, built mainly of stone, in which the principal or sole defence comprises the walls and towers bounding the site. Some form of keep may have stood within the enclosure but this was not significant in defensive terms and served mainly to provide accommodation. Larger sites might have more than one line of walling and there are normally mural towers and gatehouses. Outside the walls a ditch, either waterfilled or dry, crossed by bridges may be found. The first enclosure castles were constructed at the time of the Norman Conquest. However, they developed considerably in form during the 12th century when defensive experience gained during the Crusades was applied to their design. The majority of examples were constructed in the 13th century although a few were built as late as the 14th century. Some represent reconstructions of earlier medieval earthwork castles of the motte and bailey type, although others were new creations. They provided strongly defended residences for the king or leading families and occur in both urban and rural situations. Enclosure castles are widely dispersed throughout England, with a slight concentration in Kent and Sussex supporting a vulnerable coast, and a strong concentration along the Welsh border where some of the best examples were built under Edward I. They are rare nationally with only 126 recorded examples. Considerable diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and defence and with respect to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples retaining significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally important.

The enclosure castle at Sherborne survives well as a combination of upstanding ruined structures and buried deposits, as recorded in part excavations on the site. The site is one of only two enclosure castles in Dorset and represents one of the best examples of 12th century architecture in the county. Sherborne Castle has a different internal design from many contemporary enclosure castles: a great tower formed part of a central block which, unusually, was arranged around a central courtyard. This design is comparable to that of a cloister, a factor which may reflect the ecclesiastical background of Roger de Caen who designed the structure at Sherborne as his own residence. The historical role of the castle is well documented and it is known to have formed the administrative centre of a large and wealthy estate. An extensive archive of records has been maintained. Sherborne Castle is open to the public.

History

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

Details

The monument includes an enclosure castle with a central building, incorporating a great tower within a large bailey, an earlier Christian cemetery, and Civil War siegeworks at Sherborne, situated on a natural knoll in the Yeo Valley. The earliest deposits identified at the site include the remains of the Christian cemetery which dates from the ninth century AD. Part excavations have located burials across the hilltop, although many had been disturbed by the structures of the later castle. Some of the graves were found to have distinctive rounded ends. The ditches of a rectangular enclosure have also been identified nearby and this may be later than the cemetery. The function of the enclosure is uncertain. During the early 12th century an enclosure castle was built on the hilltop. The site is now known as `Sherborne Old Castle', distiguishing it from the later residence now known as `Sherborne Castle', 300m to the south. The enclosure castle had at its centre a block of buildings constructed of local stone, using a rubble core with Ham Hill ashlar facing. This was surrounded by a curtain wall and outer ditch, enclosing an octagonal area of 1.4ha. The natural hilltop was extensively levelled for the construction of the castle and to increase the gradient of the outer slopes, thus enhancing its defences. The central building survives as a partly upstanding ruin within the centre of the bailey. The great tower consists of a main block, and a turret on the west side and a southern extension. The central building dates from around 1130, although the surviving remains also include at least three additional phases of construction. The ground floor of the tower is divided by a spine wall, aligned north-south, supporting two barrel vaults linking with added groined vaults supported on a re-used 12th century cylindrical column. This vaulting is a later insertion. The west wall of the main block of the tower stands to first floor level and was supported by two buttresses. Access to the first floor was by means of an internal staircase situated on the northern side. The upper part of the south buttress of the tower retains its ashlar facing, and its eastern wall retains junctions with the demolished walls of the east range of the central building. The turret on the west appears to have possessed no means of direct access to the ground floor. A stone stair dating to the late 14th century, on the northern side of the turret also provided access into the tower. To the north of the great tower was a 12th century range of two storeys, which formed the northern side of a small courtyard. The northern range contained chapels on each floor. The ground floor was of four bays with buttresses to the north wall. The three bays to the east were vaulted with groined rubble vaults, and the western bay a barrel vault; all of which have collapsed. Much of the southern and eastern walls survive to their original height, as does the eastern part of the northern wall, however the remainder is now much ruined. The eastern wall has a window, the southern wall evidence of two entrances, and the northern wall several windows and a doorway. The former eastern range, linking the chapel range with the south range is now much ruined. Part excavations conducted at the site by Mr C Bean between 1932 and 1954 and Mr P White between 1968 and 1978 have identified additional structural foundations and buried deposits. The area south east of the central building was found to contain building foundations which have been interpreted as a kitchen block. The well to the south of this block was circular in plan, 1.5m in internal diameter and retained by walls constructed of Ham Hill Stone extending to a depth of 8.4m. Below this, the natural rock had been quarried out. The well was excavated to a depth of 12.8m; the modern water table was encountered at a depth of about 12m, and the well found to be rectangular in plan at its lowest level. At a depth of 3.5m there was considerable wearing of the wall surfaces. This has been interpreted as bucket-rub and may indicate the normal water-level within the well during its use. The well contained extensive archaeological deposits, including pottery, shells, domestic rubbish and the remains of timber lifting gear. The deposits dated from the 13th century and extended around the area surrounding the well-head. The foundations of substantial buildings were also located within the area adjacent to the south east corner of the curtain wall. These extended south from the tower for a distance of at least 53m and included traces of doorways thought to date from the 12th century. The foundations of a possible garderobe tower have been identified within the north western corner of the central building. The remains of a tiled floor were identified within the north eastern area of the Great Hall in the South Range. This included tiles arranged in alternating colours of yellow and brownish-green, and an outer border of tiles of similar alternating colours. The circuit of the outer walls was constructed as straight flanks enclosing an interior area, with dimensions of 143m by 100m, forming an octagonal plan. The curtain walls have been largely reduced to ground level along the northern and western flanks, although the eastern end of the northern flank and part of the north eastern flank stand to a height of 8.4m. The walls had an inner walkway and originally incorporated four towers. Two of the towers had gates providing access into the bailey. The main entrance was through the south west tower which faced towards the town and was designed to be impressive upon approach. This tower was built over the scarp of the ditch and had the appearance of a three storey structure from outside the castle, but only two storeys from within. The second entrance was provided through the smaller north eastern tower. On the northern flank there was also a central gateway protected by a small outer court from which a narrow barrel vaulted passage descended to the level of the former lake or mere on the northern side of the castle. Outside the bailey was a substantial rock-cut ditch which survives between 5m (in the south eastern corner) and 15m (in the south western corner) wide. On the southern side, the ditch has a depth of between 8m-10m below the base of the curtain wall. To the west of the site is a semi-hexagonal earthwork which is approximately 25m in diameter and c.1.5m high. This represents the remains of a Civil War siegework. To the north east the foundations of a small rectangular late 17th century building and the remains of 12th century ranges partly robbed out during the Civil War were excavated by C Bean. They are all within the area of the scheduling. Sherborne Old Castle was constructed by Roger de Caen, Bishop of Sarum 1107- 1139. Roger was also the Abbot of Sherborne and a principal advisor to King Henry I, who eventually assumed the role of vice-regent while Henry was abroad. Roger relinquished his abbacy in 1122, although he retained the episcopal estate surrounding Sherborne and Sherborne Castle. Following Henry's death in 1135, Roger lost royal favour and in 1139 the castle was seized by King Stephen. Later it was maintained as a royal castle and accommodation at the site was enhanced by the construction of a court with ranges on the west side of the central building. In 1354 the castle was regained by Bishop Wyvill of Salisbury and reused for administrative and residential purposes by the bishopric. As a result, less finance was available for the maintainance of the castle and this led to some contraction in the size and number of the internal buildings in use. Structures such as the garderobe turrets, areas of the west court and the northern postern appear to have been demolished during the 15th century. It may not have been until the late 15th century that any refurbishment or significant improvements were made to the site. Leland records that Bishop Langton built a new work at the western end of the hall during the period 1485-87, and part excavations suggest that an extension was added to the southern tower. During the 16th century extensive diocesan boundary changes contributed to a change in the ownership of the site. In 1592 Sir Walter Raleigh gained possession of Sherborne Castle and began to remodel the castle including the great tower and south west gate tower. However, he turned his attention to developing the former hunting lodge to the south of the castle as his home, and the castle became less important. During the Civil War, the castle proved useful as a Royalist stronghold and resisted a siege by Parliamentarian forces in 1642. However, following a further siege in 1645, the castle was stormed by the Parliamentarians on August 15th and surrendered to General Fairfax. The fortifications of the castle were slighted soon afterwards to prevent re-possession. This included the reduction of the eastern defences. From this time the castle remained unoccupied and, in the 18th century, its ruins were incorporated as a feature in the landscaped park and gardens of the former lodge to the south now called Sherborne Castle. Sherborne Old Castle is now in the care of the Secretary of State and is open to the public. It is also a Listed Building Grade I. Excluded from the scheduling are the modern office buildings situated on the south western side of the castle entrance, the timber structure of the entrance bridge across the castle moat, all benches, all notice boards and other modern fixtures and fittings, the wooden gate along Pinford Lane, the stone wall flanking the road to the north and all fence posts; however the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 66
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 65-6
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 65
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 64
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 64
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 64
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 64
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 64
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 65
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 65
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 64
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 64
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 65
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 65
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 64
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 64
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 65
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 65
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 65
Other
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
10th century date, White, Peter , Sherborne Old Castle, The Archaeological Journal, (1983)
Details of 1953-4 excavations,
Details of debris around well head,
Details of lifting gear of well,
Details of south-eastern structures,
Details of tiled floor,
Details of well,
Mention excavations,
Mention interpretation of kitchens,
Occurrence of graves across hilltop,
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Series Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Interpretation as a possible chapel

National Grid Reference: ST 64842 16785

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Apr-2018 at 10:14:38.

End of official listing