Ringwork and bailey at Motleys Copse


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019110

Date first listed: 05-Feb-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Nov-2000


Ordnance survey map of Ringwork and bailey at Motleys Copse
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This copy shows the entry on 09-Dec-2018 at 23:29:59.


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

County: Hampshire

District: East Hampshire (District Authority)

Parish: Rowlands Castle

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: SU 72500 12190


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

Reasons for Designation

Ringworks are medieval fortifications built and occupied from the late Anglo-Saxon period to the later 12th century. They comprised a small defended area containing buildings which was surrounded or partly surrounded by a substantial ditch and a bank surmounted by a timber palisade or, rarely, a stone wall. Occasionally a more lightly defended embanked enclosure, the bailey, adjoined the ringwork. Ringworks acted as strongholds for military operations and in some cases as defended aristocratic or manorial settlements. They are rare nationally with only 200 recorded examples and less than 60 with baileys. As such, and as one of a limited number and very restricted range of Anglo-Saxon and Norman fortifications, ringworks are of particular significance to our understanding of the period.

The ringwork and bailey at Motleys Copse survives well despite some disturbance by later quarrying, and has previously been described by J P Williams-Freeman as `one of the most complete and perfect of Norman remains in Hampshire.' It can be expected to retain important archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the original construction of the monument and its later use. It forms part of a group of three or four well preserved mottes and ringworks, including Rowlands Castle to the south east, which lie in close proximity within the boundaries of the medieval forest of Bere, and for which documentary evidence survives of an historical association with Robert, Earl of Arundel.


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


The monument includes a ringwork and bailey of probable 11th or 12th century date, situated on level ground within Motleys Copse, near Rowlands Castle. The ringwork includes a low circular platform, 35m in diameter and raised up to 1m high, enclosed by a substantial defensive bank and outer ditch. It is internally subdivided by two low earthen banks with flint foundations which radiate from a central well surviving as a shallow circular pit, 6m wide. The larger bailey abuts the ringwork to the west. It sits level with the surrounding woodland and forms a semicircular area, approximately 80m by 60m in diameter. It is enclosed by a bank and outer ditch which close to within 20m of the ringwork to the south, but these have been cut by a later quarry pit where they approach the ringwork on the northern side. The defences are relatively uniform around the circumference of the monument, but are most impressive on the south side of the ringwork where the bank and ditch are each 9m wide and the bank is raised up to 1.5m above the interior and 3.5m above the ditch. The gap between the ringwork and bailey ramparts at this point may have provided an original entrance. Additional entrances are provided by three causeways which span the bailey defences at regular intervals on the western and northern sides, and by a similar causeway between the bailey and the ringwork, although these are probably trackway features associated with the later use of the site. Two intersecting crescent shaped banks and ditches, of similar proportions to the outer ramparts, subdivide the bailey into two inner loops and a large outer area, significantly strengthening the ringwork's defences on its western approach. The main, outer area of the bailey is further subdivided by a linear ditch, 0.3m deep and 6m wide, which is included in the scheduling where it projects from the southern ditch terminal for 87m to the south east. It links the monument with a series of intersecting enclosure banks and/or trackways situated 80m further to the south east, some of which were the subject of archaeological excavations in 1984 which indicated they may be contemporary features. A further series of banks which skirt the ringwork to the north and east are associated with the later enclosure of the site for woodland and are therefore not included in the scheduling, except where they project onto the monument. The construction and use of the monument has not been accurately dated, although medieval pottery has been recovered from within the ringwork. Its location within the boundaries of the medieval royal hunting forest of Bere and the Hundred of Finchdean, owned by Robert, Earl of Arundel, suggests it may form one of a number of strongholds he defended against Henry I before being banished from the kingdom in 1101. A smaller motte situated approximately 200m to the south west may represent an earlier defence or a contemporary seige castle and is the subject of a separate scheduling. A number of wooden pheasant pens situated on the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 32546

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cox, P W, The survey and excavation of earthworks near Motley's Copse, (1984)
Cox, P W, The survey and excavation of earthworks near Motley's Copse, (1984)
Hughes, M, Settlement and landscape in medieval Hampshire75,77
Williams-Freeman, JP, Introduction to field archaeology as illustrated by Hampshire, (1915), 379
Hughes, M F, 'Landscape Hist' in Hampshire Castles and the Landscape 1066-1216, , Vol. 11, (1989), 56

End of official listing