Croft Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018011

Date first listed: 24-Oct-1997


Ordnance survey map of Croft Castle
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This copy shows the entry on 15-Dec-2018 at 15:39:24.


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

County: Devon

District: Torridge (District Authority)

Parish: Winkleigh

National Grid Reference: SS 63065 08035


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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Despite some damage, Croft Castle survives comparatively well, contains archaeological information relating to Norman military activity in this part of Devon and forms a notable landscape feature within the village of Winkleigh. The proximity of this castle to another one in the village is unusual.


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


The monument includes a medieval ringwork, known as Croft Castle which is located on a ridge overlooking the valley of the Bullow Brook to the south. It lies in the village of Winkleigh, to the west of its centre. To the north east lies a second medieval castle which is also in the village and is the subject of a separate scheduling. This monument survives as an oval mound, although part of the rampart which originally enclosed the summit of the mound also remains. The ditch surrounding the mound is preserved mainly as a buried feature, although its extent appears to be fossilised in the adjacent road and boundary layouts. The mound itself measures 45m from north east to south west and 42m from north west to south east. Where it has been cut to produce a platform for the village hall it is up to 2.7m high, but the arc which survives uncut, on the eastern side, is up to 4.5m high. A portion of the rampart which originally enclosed the hollow centre of the mound survives. It measures 7m wide at the top. The western side of the mound remains largely intact to a height of 2.7m, although the upper sections have been removed to facilitate the construction of the village hall. The hall also has a small cellar which has cut into the mound on its north western side. To the south, the mound has been cut to enable the construction of a stone-built retaining wall which prevents subsidence from the mound onto the public highway. This retaining wall continues around the base of the mound as it passes an adjacent building called Castle School. The gatepiers and adjoining walls to the north east of the monument are Listed Grade II. The ditch which surrounds the mound is preserved largely as a buried feature. On the south eastern side, the alignment of the public highway indicates the line of the ditch. A 6.7m wide vehicular access to the rear of the village hall follows the line of the ditch around the base of the mound from the north of the monument to the east. However, this feature is not as wide as the original ditch which extends into the garden of an adjacent property. Within this property, the edge of the ditch appears to be marked by a coursed stone retaining wall, 6m beyond and parallel to the edge of the track. On the south western side, the ditch has been cut by the construction of a building, Castle School Rooms, dated to 1840 and Listed Grade II. The gardens of this building are seen to curve around to the north east thus following the line of the original ditch. The castle is thought to have been founded in the mid 1100s, possibly in opposition to the nearby Court Castle, and by the 13th century it certainly formed part of a separate manor. The village hall, Castle School Rooms and the road surface of Castle Street are all 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: 30303

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Probert, S A J, Dunn, C J, Croft Castle, Winkleigh, Devon : A new survey by the RCHME, (1993)

End of official listing