Motte with two baileys and a multivallate hillfort at Burley Wood


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018519

Date first listed: 10-Aug-1923

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Feb-1999


Ordnance survey map of Motte with two baileys and a multivallate hillfort at Burley Wood
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 12-Dec-2018 at 17:20:12.


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

County: Devon

District: West Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Bridestowe

National Grid Reference: SX 49551 87404


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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 afforestation and agricultural activity, the motte with two baileys and multivallate hillfort at Burley Wood survive well and provide an unusual example of defences of very different periods lying adjacent to each other. In most instances where Iron Age and medieval defences share a hilltop, the earlier hillfort is reused. There is however no evidence of this having happened at Burley Wood and therefore the earlier hillfort remains intact.


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


This monument includes a motte with two baileys and an Iron Age hillfort with multiple defences lying juxtaposed on a prominent ridge overlooking the valleys of the River Lew and one of its major tributaries in an area known as Burley Wood. The monument survives as a prominent motte with two baileys to its north west and a large oval enclosure defined by ramparts and an outer ditch with a series of smaller enclosures, and five outer defensive ramparts and ditches to the south. The motte is a circular mound which measures 44m in diameter and is up to 4m high. On the summit are two roughly oval depressions. Surrounding the mound is a ditch which measures up to 4m wide and 1.2m deep. Immediately to the west of the motte is a `D' shaped bailey. This is enclosed by a rampart which measures up to 8.5m wide and 0.9m high internally enclosing an area which measures 36.2m long by 19.6m wide maximum. This bailey is largely level. Beyond the rampart is a ditch which measures up to 5m wide and 1.2m deep. To the north and west of the first bailey lies a second outer bailey which is defined by another rampart and outer ditch. The rampart measures 3.2m wide and up to 0.3m high internally. The ditch measures 4.9m wide and is up to 0.8m deep. This rampart encloses an area which measures 38m long by 35m wide maximum, although the width decreases to 14.5m in the west. This bailey also slopes to the north and east. Beyond the rampart and ditch is a further defensive outer bank which sits on the summit of the steep natural slope. This measures up to 3m wide and 2.3m high externally. To the south west of the motte, at some 36m distance, lies a hillfort. This consists of a roughly oval enclosure which measures 144m long from east to west and 94m wide internally. The enclosure is defined by a double rampart and ditch. The outermost ditch is preserved mainly as a buried feature. The outer rampart bank measures up to 9m wide and is 1.3m high; the inner ditch is up to 7.2m wide and 0.8m deep; the inner rampart measures up to 6.8m wide and 2.2m high. On the southern side of the hillfort are a series of irregularly shaped defended enclosures. The first of these is roughly rectangular in shape and the whole is enclosed by a bank which measures up to 3.6m wide and 1.2m high. This is surrounded by a ditch up to 6.3m wide and 0.8m deep. To the south east are two roughly circular quarry type depressions the largest of which is up to 10m in diameter and 2.2m deep. Beyond these lies a further substantial outer bank which surrounds the first enclosure and merges with the outer rampart of the hillfort, then extends to enclose a further area which measures 104m long by 42.6m wide maximum. The bank itself measures up to 5.3m wide and 1.3m high internally. Within this enclosure is a clearly defined entrance to the south west. On this southern side of the hillfort, local topography has necessitated the use of further ramparts and ditches which are not present on any other side of the monument. The first bank has been fossilised within an existing field boundary and measures up to 4.3m wide and 1.3m high. The ditch for this bank is preserved as a buried feature. Further south and parallel to this bank is the second rampart and ditch. The rampart measures up to 4.2m wide and 0.5m high. The ditch is up to 4.1m wide and 0.3m deep. This has been cut at its western end by a farm road. Further south again lies the third rampart which is less obvious and possibly marks the position of a naturally occurring geological feature, since there is no obvious ditch. It measures up to 4m wide and 0.5m high. Further south again lies a fourth rampart with outer ditch. The rampart measures up to 9.2m wide maximum and 1.6m high. The ditch measures up to 9.4m wide and 0.4m deep. This rampart has a central entrance which measures up to 24m wide and is slightly in turned. The fifth and outermost rampart lies further south again. This links two naturally steep valley slopes to form a major defensive outer line and thus cut off the promontory. The outer rampart measures up to 4.8m wide maximum and 2.5m high. The outer ditch measures up to 8.9m wide and up to 2m deep maximum. This is a long defensive line and has been cut in several places over the years to provide access to fields. Within the upper fill of the ditch a stone built farm building was erected and a well sunk, probably during the 19th century, this building, its track and well are still extant. The building, now being used as a field barn, and field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included. The well is totally excluded from the scheduling.

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: 30350

Legacy System: RSM


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX48NE5, (1987)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX48NE6, (1992)

End of official listing