Chideock Castle: a moated site and associated features 520m south west of Chideock Manor


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017033

Date first listed: 25-Feb-1953

Date of most recent amendment: 29-Oct-1999


Ordnance survey map of Chideock Castle: a moated site and associated features 520m south west of Chideock Manor
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: West Dorset (District Authority)

Parish: Chideock

National Grid Reference: SY 42350 93065


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

Reasons for Designation

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

Chideock Castle is a well preserved example of a moated site in an area of the country where moats are rare. It will contain archaeological and environmental remains providing information about medieval society, economy and landscape. The survival of external features surrounding the moat provides an unusual and significant association allowing a fuller understanding of the nature and development of the site.


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


The monument includes Chideock Castle, the earthwork remains of a moated site of manorial status and associated enclosures, fish ponds, building platforms and terraces within the field known as Ruins Field. The site was surveyed and mapped by students from Bournemouth University in 1977 and 1993. The moat and site occupies a west facing slope on an outcrop of marl and clay which extends to a stream to the west. A square platform, 42m across, containing earthworks which reflect the positions of previous buildings, is surrounded by a deep moat, on average 15m wide and 2.5m deep. The gatehouse was located at the south eastern corner of the platform, where the moat was probably originally bridged; there is now a modern causeway at this point. The moat on the eastern side is now partly filled in and the eastern edge of it is buried under soil deriving from the field up slope. The ditch on the northern side has been filled in and a series of terraces constructed over it, possibly for agricultural use or landscaping associated with the later use of the site when the moat ditch was no longer in use. The moat is now largely dry. Hutchins reported in 1866 that the moat was fed by lead pipes from a spring rising at the foot of Quarry Hill to the east, although this could not be verified on the ground. The narrowing of the moat ditch on the north eastern corner may suggest a sluice to control water levels. Channels run westwards from the moat down to two fishponds. Other platforms and banks in this area may also indicate building sites and horticultural activities. Platforms and other earthworks to the east of the moat ditch probably also represent the sites of outbuildings. A lynchet, which runs north-south from the southern edge of the moat, appears to predate it and may be associated with the bank and ditch running down slope to the west, enclosing what may have been an earlier field. The whole complex covers about 4.2ha and is enclosed by a bank, which now supports a hedge and which may define the original boundary. Documentary evidence indicates that the manor of Chideock was given to Sir Thomas le Brithun in 1248. In the late 13th century the manor passed to John Gervase who was granted a licence to crenellate his hall. Licences to crenellate were also granted in the late 14th century. The house was built in stone with later brick additions and was destroyed in the Civil War. The ruins of the gatehouse were still visible in 1733 when they were pictured in an engraving by Buck, showing a tower at each corner, but were destroyed by the middle of the 18th century. A wooden cross on a bonded stone base in the centre of the platform commemorates the seven Roman Catholic Chideock martyrs executed in the 1590s. All fence and gate posts, the cross, overhead electricity supply poles and the stone trough are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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: 31076

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hutchins, J, History of Dorset: Volume II, (1863), 258-9
Manuscript report, Gale J, Chideock Castle: A preliminary report on a geophysical survey, (1994)
Manuscript report, Upton, K, The Moated Sites of Dorset, (1978)

End of official listing