A motte with two baileys immediately north of Park Pond
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1019897
Date first listed: 20-Jul-2001
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: South Somerset (District Authority)
Parish: Castle Cary
National Grid Reference: ST 64169 32192
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
A tower keep castle is a strongly fortified residence in which the keep is the
principal defensive feature. The keep may be free-standing or surrounded by a
defensive enclosure; they are normally square in shape, although other shapes
are known. Internally they have several floors providing accommodation of
various types. If the keep has an attached enclosure this will normally be
defined by a defensive wall, frequently with an external ditch. Access into
the enclosure was provided by a bridge across the ditch, allowing entry via a
gatehouse. Additional buildings, including stabling for animals and workshops,
may be found within the enclosure. Tower keep castles were built throughout
the medieval period, from immediately after the Norman Conquest to the mid-
15th century, with a peak in the middle of the 12th century. A few were
constructed on the sites of earlier earthwork castle types but most were new
creations. They provided strongly fortified residences for the king or leading
families and occur in both urban or rural situations. Tower keep castles are
widely dispersed throughout England with a major concentration on the Welsh
border. They are rare nationally with only 104 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 to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples retaining
significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally
Despite part of the western side of the inner and outer baileys of the castle site at Castle Cary having been destroyed by development, the site as a whole survives well and it is known from partial excavation to contain archaeological information relating to the castle, the lives of its inhabitants, their economy and the landscape in which they lived.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the site of a medieval castle, including a motte with
the foundations of a stone keep, an inner and an outer bailey and three
earthwork mounds, situated on Lodge Hill overlooking Castle Cary to the west.
The site occupies a natural spur formed by two conjoining irregularly shaped
mounds extending from the north east to the south west. The ground gradually
rises to the north and, more steeply, to the east, and falls away to the
south. The outer bailey is located on the larger mound on the north side of
the inner bailey which occupies the mound to the south. The outer bailey is
defined on the north side by a low broad bank with a shallow external ditch.
The east side is enclosed by a central ditch flanked on both sides by parallel
banks between 2.5m and 7m high above the base of the ditch, with an overall
width of approximately 42m. The banks form a curve at the south east corner of
the outer bailey at its junction with the north east corner of the inner
The east side of the inner bailey is enclosed by a ditch with an inner bank of
approximately 12m wide and an outer bank approximately 5m wide. The south side
of the inner bailey drops steeply down to Park Pond, a wide marshy area which
is fed by springs and is the source of the River Cary. A steep drop to an
area of modern development now defines the western side of the castle site. An
evaluation in 1998, prior to this development, revealed that a continuous
ditch of between 10m and 12m wide enclosed the inner and outer baileys and
from this it is possible to plot the complete defensive circuit of the castle
site, although nothing now remains of the western defences and therefore they
do not form part of the scheduling. The two baileys are separated by a ditch
of which only the easternmost part is now visible, however a continuation of
the buried ditch was observed during a watching brief carried out in 1977.
The remains of the stone keep are situated on relatively flat ground within
the raised level of the inner bailey in the lee of a curving bank 4m high,
located to the north and east and adjacent to the eastern inner defensive
bank. The stone foundations were uncovered during a 19th century partial
excavation and were located on an irregular surface at a depth of between 1.5m
and 1.8m below the present ground level. A large rectangular keep was
revealed, approximately 24m by 23m in ground plan and constructed from locally
quarried stone faced with Ham and Doulting stone dressings.
Also included in the monument are three low rectangular earthwork mounds of
uniform shape, aligned broadly from north east to south west within the outer
bailey. Each mound is 6m wide, the central mound is 18m long and the north
east and south west mounds are 12m long. Although the precise nature and date
of the mounds has not been definitely identified it is likely that they are
minor building platforms or possibly pillow mounds for the rearing of rabbits
in the post-medieval period.
An agricultural settlement known as Cari had already been established by the
time of Domesday, and it is likely that the town was initiated by the founder
of the castle. It is known to have been built in the late 11th or early 12th
century and remained in use for a comparatively short period until 1153 when
it was besieged for a third, and final time, having been first besieged in
1138 and again in 1148 during King Stephen's reign. The castle was abandoned
in favour of a new manorial settlement immediately to the west which was later
to become a moated site and subsequently Manor Farm.
The half-buried bulk water tank, located near the centre of the site, the
adjoining concrete well house, the buried mains water pipes which cross the
west side of the site together with all telegraph poles, fence and gate posts
are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all 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: 33722
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Aston, M, Leech, R, Historic Towns in Somerset, (1977), 26-30
Gregory, R C, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society' in Notes on the Discovery of the Site of Castle Cary, , Vol. 36, (1890), 168-174
ST 63 SW 8, National Monuments Record, (1966)
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing