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HER Number:MDV15339
Name:Motte and Bailey at Castle Hill, Widworthy Park

Summary

Castle Hill may have originated as a Saxon Burh or a medieval moated site. It is visible as a roughly circular earthwork platform, surrounded by a ditch, with additional external wide linear earthwork banks and a ditch on images derived from lidar data captured in 2016.

Location

Grid Reference:SY 212 994
Map Sheet:SY29NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishWidworthy
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishWIDWORTHY

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SY29NW5
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SY29NW/64
  • Old SAM County Ref: 277
  • Old SAM Ref: 29633
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SY29NW 5
  • Pastscape: 449613

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • (Former Type) EARTHWORK (Unknown date)
  • MOTTE AND BAILEY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Hutchinson, P. O., 1868, On Hill Fortresses, Sling-Stones, and other Antiquities in South Eastern Devon, 373-4 (Article in Serial). SDV120058.

The place called Castle Wood. The earthwork is not circular, but rather an irregular triangle. The north side is nearly straight and 103 feet, the west side is nearly straight and 90 feet. The south and east sides form part of a circle 142 feet long. The flat area is surrounded by a terrace some feet lower which perhaps occupies the course of the enclosing ditch.


Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'Castle Hill (Camp)' shown.


Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 613 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.


Ramsden, J. V., 1947, The Hillfort and Castle Hill at Widworthy, 193-6 (Article in Serial). SDV120246.

Seems to have been one of the Saxon Burhs, which were built between 750 and 1000 AD. Other details: Plan.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1951 - 1954, SY29NW5 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV120259.

Early medieval or late Saxon fortified site. Hill-top, 100 feet square, has been scarped and ditched, no bank.


Ministry of Works, 1952, Castle Hill, Widworthy (Schedule Document). SDV120245.

An unusual small fortified site, possibly a late Saxon manor or 'burh', or the counterpart of the medieval moated sites of the lowlands. It occupies the top of a hillock, which has been levelled, scarped and ditched, but not embanked, forming an enclosure about 100 feet long. Entrance probably at south-west angle. A low bank and track extending from this point to a spring-head, which has a leat to a fishpond about 100 yards west-north-west. In fairly good condition.


Higham, R. A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon, 131-134, 249, 252, 260, 293, 296, 298, 312, 315 (Post-Graduate Thesis). SDV336189.

An earthwork created by scarping of a natural knoll. Mound with flat top. No bailey visible. Its interpretation is complicated by landscaping, and it has been variously interpreted as a post-medieval landscaping feature, a windmill mound, Iron Age enclosure or Saxon Burh. It is most likely to be a medieval fortification (castle) modified by later landscaping. It has a long tradition of antiquity (the field name 'Castle Hill' goes back at least to 1780), and the adjacent field name of 'Barbarry' could be a corruption of 'Barbican'. Founded possibly at the time of the Norman conquest, but more probably in the 12th century, during the Civil Wars of Stephen's reign (1130's and 1140's). Other details: Figures 39-40.


Robinson, R., 1982, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1982 (Un-published). SDV342809.

Other details: Site visit 15/12/1982.


Timms, S. C., 1982, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV120247.

This earthwork might possibly be part of the landscaping of Widworthy Court by Repton in circa 1830. See letter from L. V. Grinsell in parish file.


Grinsell, L. V., 1982, Untitled Source (Correspondence). SDV358448.


Griffiths, D. M., 1984, Castle Hill, Widworthy (Personal Comment). SDV120252.

Site visit 03/02/1984. Large trees on top and slight damage by cattle to south-west. Further earthworks (probably quarrying) between mound and corner of field to south. Other details: Photograph.


Griffiths, D. M., 1984, Castle Hill, Widworthy (Ground Photograph). SDV120263.


Robinson, R., 1986, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1986 (Un-published). SDV345664.

Site visit 6th March 1986.


Higham, R. A., 1988, Devon Castles: An Annotated List, 144 (Article in Serial). SDV341278.


Haydon, E. S., 1992, Untitled Source (Correspondence). SDV323978.

None of the original plans and drawings by G. S. Repton indicate any landscape features at this location.


Haydon, E. S., 1995, Castle Hill at Widworthy, 18 (Article in Serial). SDV120265.


Morgan, D., 1995, Widworthy Court, Lower Lodge, Widworthy (Un-published). SDV358449.


Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 1997, Castle Hill (Schedule Document). SDV343161.

Castle Hill is a motte castle, of possible 12th century date, sculptured from the natural hillside in a commanding position overlooking the ancient settlements of Widworthy and Wilmington, both recorded in Domesday. Mottes are usually constructed as artificial mounds thrown up by means of piling soil and/or stone, but the motte at Castle Hill was created by the scarping of a natural irregularly-shaped knoll which sits on the top of the hill. The knoll, as modified, is sub-rectangular in shape, being near circular on its southern and eastern sides whilst the north and west sides are nearly straight, measuring about 31 metres and 27 metres in length respectively. The apex of the knoll has been flattened to provide a platform about 35 metres across. The resulting platform is about 5 metres in height with no encircling bank. It slopes at a 45 degree angle on all sides to a ditch which survives as a faint trace, more visible to the north than the south, with a width of about 3 metres. The tradition of the antiquity and function of the site goes back at least until 1780 when it was known as Castle Hill and its original use as a fortification is possibly confirmed by the adjacent field name `Barbarry' which is perhaps a corruption of barbican. Dr Robert Higham has suggested that Castle Hill may date from the second major period of motte construction, during the civil wars of King Stephen's reign in the 1130s and 1140s. Other details: Originally scheduled 29/05/1952.


Salvatore, J. P., 1997, Motte Castle on Castle Hill, 144367 (Un-published). SDV343160.

The sculptured knoll known as Castle Hill, which overlooks Widworthy to the south and Wilmington to the north, has been suggested by Dr Higham of the University of Exeter, to be a fortification dating from the time of King Stephen's conflict with Matilda in the middle of the 12th century although it could be earlier and of the Conquest period. Higham's suggestion that the monument is military in nature is supported by the field-name Barberry in a field adjacent to the monument, this name thought to be a corruption of barbican. Additionally, the name Castle Hill goes back at least until 1780 and the tradition of a castle is therefore clearly earlier than the period of landscaping in the 1830's when George Repton built Widworthy Court which, it has been suggested, could account for the shape of the knoll. The platformed mound, which is in a prominent position in the landscape, has attracted a great number of alternative interpretations including the proposition that it could be a Saxon burh, an Iron Age enclosure, or a Roman fort; These alternatives are summarised in a publication by Haydon who concluded that the question of interpretation of Castle Hill was still open to debate although he argued that the artificial shape of the knoll is not the result of 19th century landscaping and that one of the trees on the platform is at least 250 years old.


Exeter Archaeology, 2003-2004, East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey, Site No. 858 (Archive - Survey). SDV351568.

Earthwork created by scarping natural knoll. Most likely to be medieval castle of 11th century or 12th century modified by later landscaping (SMR). Area marked 'Castle Hill' on modern map and 'Castle' field names on Tithe Map/Tithe Apportionment are probably associated with the feature (Castle Wood Tithe Apportionment No. 64 at SY 2129 9954; Part of Castle Wood Tithe Apportionment No. 45 at SY 2137 9972). Scheduled Monument.
SMR; Widworthy Tithe Map/Tithe Apportionment 1839/1838


English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West, 99 (Report - non-specific). SDV342694.

Generally satisfactory but with significant localised problems. Principal vulnerability scrub/tree growth.


English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West, 91 (Report - non-specific). SDV344777.


English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West, 95 (Report - non-specific). SDV355280.

Generally satisfactory but with significant localised problems. Declining. Principal vulnerability scrub/tree growth.


Historic England, 2015-2016, NRHE to HER prototype, 445463 (Website). SDV359652.

Summary description
Castle Hill is a motte, of possibly 12th century date, sculptured from the natural hillside. The motte at Castle Hill was created by the scarping of a natural irregularly-shaped knoll which sits on the top of the hill. The knoll, as modified, is sub-rectangular in shape, being near circular on its southern and eastern sides whilst the north and north west sides are nearly straight, measuring about 31 metres and 27 metres in length respectively. The apex of the knoll has been flattened to provide a platform about 35 metres across. The resulting platform is about 5 metres in height with no encircling bank. It slopes at a 45 degree angle on all sides to a ditch which survives as a faint trace, with a width of about 3 metres. It is suggested that Castle Hill may date from the second major period of motte construction, during the civil wars of King Stephen's reign in the 1130s and 1140s. Scheduled.
Full description
(Centred SY 21269948) Castle Hill (NR) (1)
Castle Hill at Widworthy, once a Saxon Burgh, is a strong point with a flat-topped mound, the middle and lower terraces of which were probably stockaded. Stone ruins suggest the site of barbican gates and a crescent shaped mound may indicate an underground passage to castle mound.
The remains of a fish pond are fed by a spring and communication trench leads to the pool of the larger northern spring. The remains of a stone wall are still visible on the west side of the trench,a route for cattle. (2)
An irregular triangle, the north side 103 ft. long the west side 90ft and the south and east sides are a curved 142 ft long. The flat area is surrounded by a terrace some feet lower which perhaps occupies the course of a ditch. (3)
Castle Hill: an early Medieval or late Saxon fortified site. The hill-top, 100 ft square, has been scarped and ditched; no bank. (4)
Castle Hill, Widworthy appears to be essentially a natural mound. The absence of masonry and defence works akin to the Norman/Edwardian periods suggest that the site was never occupied by an important military structure. Signs of scarping and terracing on the hillock suggest that it could probably have been the site of a Norman hall. (5)
Additional reference. (6)
Sources
1 Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date) OS 6" 1963
2 Devonshire Association reports and transactions 193-96 79 (1947)
3 Devonshire Association reports and transactions 373-4 2 (1867)
4 Annotated Record Map Correspondents Annotated 6" Sheet (Lady A Fox 1950)
5 Devonshire Association news 3-5 33 (1970)
6 Scheduled Monument Notification 08/12/1997
Monumnet types, periods and evidence
Mound: Uncertain. Earthwork
Motte: 1130-1149, medieval. Conjectural evidence
Related monuments: None recorded
Related events: None recorded
Related archives/objects
ORD01/01 Ordnance Survey: Portfolios
AO0749
Copy of a survey of Widworthy Castle, Castle Hill and surroundings, with sections and contours
Compiler: John Williams Stone, 1975
Record created: Prior to 01/04/1999


Bluesky International, 2016, LiDAR DTM data (0.5m resolution) Blackdown Hills and East Devon AONBs: 3 transects, LIDAR SY2199 Bluesky International DTM 24 & 30-APR-2016 (Cartographic). SDV359714.

A roughly circular earthwork platform, surrounded by a ditch, is visible. Additional external wide linear earthwork banks and a ditch are visible.


Ordnance Survey, 2016, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359352.

Map object previously based on this source.


Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R., 2016-2018, The Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV359463.

A roughly circular earthwork platform surrounded by a ditch is visible on images derived from lidar data captured in 2016, on the site of ‘Castle Hill (Camp)’ depicted on the late-19th century mapping. External to this, a wide linear earthwork bank and a ditch were indistinctly visible to the north-east and north-west, and their hilltop location suggests that they could be the ploughed out remains of bailey-type defences. Additional narrower linear banks were visible to the south and south-west and could be part of the boundary. These external features are not depicted on any maps and are only indistinctly visible on aerial photographs, and tree cover obscures the ground surface of the remains of the motte.


Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R., 2016-2018, The Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project Site Visit, 07-FEB-2018 (Site Visit). SDV359588.

The south side of the motte appears to be actively eroding. The external banks and ditches are clearly visible as earthworks under grass.

Sources / Further Reading

  • Article in Serial: Hutchinson, P. O.. 1868. On Hill Fortresses, Sling-Stones, and other Antiquities in South Eastern Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 2 part 2. A5 Hardback. 373-4.
  • Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. 1952. Castle Hill, Widworthy. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
  • Article in Serial: Ramsden, J. V.. 1947. The Hillfort and Castle Hill at Widworthy. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 79. A5 Hardback. 193-6.
  • Personal Comment: Timms, S. C.. 1982.
  • Personal Comment: Griffiths, D. M.. 1984. Castle Hill, Widworthy.
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1951 - 1954. SY29NW5. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
  • Ground Photograph: Griffiths, D. M.. 1984. Castle Hill, Widworthy. Unknown. Slide.
  • Article in Serial: Haydon, E. S.. 1995. Castle Hill at Widworthy. The Devon Historian. Unknown. 18.
  • Correspondence: Haydon, E. S.. 1992. Letter to County Archaeologist. A4 Stapled + Digital.
  • Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
  • Post-Graduate Thesis: Higham, R. A.. 1979. The Castles of Medieval Devon. University of Exeter Thesis. Unknown. 131-134, 249, 252, 260, 293, 296, 298, 312, 315.
  • Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 1988. Devon Castles: An Annotated List. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 46. Paperback Volume. 144.
  • Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 613.
  • Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2009. Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West. English Heritage Report. A4 Bound +Digital. 99.
  • Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1982. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1982. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Unknown.
  • Un-published: Salvatore, J. P.. 1997. Motte Castle on Castle Hill. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Digital. 144367.
  • Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 1997. Castle Hill. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
  • Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2010. Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West. English Heritage Report. Digital. 91.
  • Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1986. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1986. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
  • Archive - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2003-2004. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. Digital + Mixed Archive Material. Site No. 858.
  • Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2011. Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West. english Heritage. Digital. 95.
  • Correspondence: Grinsell, L. V.. 1982. Letter + Digital.
  • Un-published: Morgan, D.. 1995. Widworthy Court, Lower Lodge, Widworthy. File Note. A4 Stapled + Digital.
  • Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
  • Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R.. 2016-2018. The Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project. Historic England Research Report. Digital.
  • Site Visit: Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R.. 2016-2018. The Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project Site Visit. AC Archaeology. Photograph (Digital). 07-FEB-2018.
  • Website: Historic England. 2015-2016. NRHE to HER prototype. https://nrhe-to-her.esdm.co.uk/home. Website. 445463.
  • Cartographic: Bluesky International. 2016. LiDAR DTM data (0.5m resolution) Blackdown Hills and East Devon AONBs: 3 transects. Not applicable. Digital. LIDAR SY2199 Bluesky International DTM 24 & 30-APR-2016. [Mapped feature: #81556 ]

Associated Monuments

MDV18562Related to: Widworthy Court, Widworthy (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7508 - The Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme (NMP) project (Ref: ACD1228)

Date Last Edited:Mar 20 2018 1:27PM