Motte 160m east of St Peter's Church
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1020268
Date first listed: 30-Jul-1971
Date of most recent amendment: 24-Jul-2002
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: West Devon (District Authority)
Parish: North Tawton
National Grid Reference: SS 66608 01753
Reasons for Designation
Motte 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-bai1ey 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 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
and motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from
most regions. Some 100-150 examples do not have baileys and are classified as
motte castles. 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the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other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.
The motte 160m east of St Peter's Church survives comparatively well, despite some disturbance as a result of its position within a formal garden, and will contain archaeological information relating to its construction and use. It holds an important location close to the church.
This monument includes a motte situated on a gentle hillslope overlooking the
valley of the River Taw to the east of the present centre of North Tawton.
The monument survives as an approximately circular mound measuring up to 35m
in diameter, up to 2m high and surrounded by a ditch up to 12.1m wide and a
maximum 1.5m deep. The mound and ditch are bisected by a field boundary which
runs in a north west to south east direction. To the east, the ditch and a
small section of the motte are clearly defined within a field. To the west,
the motte and ditch lie within a garden. The mound in this western area has
been cut on the southern side by two depressions, which are consistent with
the area having been landscaped at some time in the past. A small wooden
summer-house has also been erected in this area while to the north and
overlying the ditch is a large woodshed which abuts a garden wall. Beyond this
garden wall the ground surface has been deeply cut away and levelled for
formal gardens and further buildings.
The field boundaries, statues, garden ornaments and buildings, and the paths
which cross the monument 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: 34286
Legacy System: RSM
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS60SE10, (1992)
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