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Historic England Research Records

Castle Neroche

Hob Uid: 190295
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Curland
Grid Ref : ST2720015800
Summary : Earthwork remains of a Medieval motte and bailey overlying the possible earthworks of an Iron Age hillfort. Excavations in the 19th century and 1903 discovered Iron Age artefacts. Excavations between 1961 and 1964 revealed three phases. Firstly an undated rampart was built enclosing 7.5 acres. In the second period a small enclosure was built within the earlier defences. Imported French pottery was found. In the third period the site was converted into a motte and bailey. The castle appears to have passed out of permanent use by the early 12th century, but was refurbished for a brief period during the mid 12th century. Scheduled.
More information : [ST 27201580] CASTLE NEROCHE [GT]
[ST 27111586] CASTLE BEACON [GT]
[ST 27121579] Wooden Coffin found A.D.1845 [TI]
[ST 27261578] HUT CIRCLES [GT]
[ST 27181581] Sword found A.D.1845 [TI] (1)

Castle Neroche, known locally as Castle Rache, (and the summit is known as The Beacon), has been described as a prehistoric earthwork later formed into a Md. castle. It has been shown as an IA multivallate hill-fort on the OS IA Map (7). It occupies a promontory and there are four concentric lines of earthwork defences with a small motte (possibly with a stone shell-keep) and bailey set into a corner of an earlier enclosure. A modern farmhouse and garden occupy part of the area. (2-4)

Iron arrowheads, an iron sword blade and inhumation-burials (one said to have been in a wooden coffin) were found before 1854 and are sited by Warre(6) - [See AO/63/373/2.] In 1903, excavations by H. St. George Gray produced Norman and Md. potsherds and finds, now in Taunton Museum, but nothing IA or Roman. [See AO/63/373/1 for a plan of these excavations.] Gray excavated a Md. pit which may be one of the features described by Warre as conical pits, 8-10 feet in diameter and 7-8 feet deep, discounted as hut-circles but possibly storage-pits. Excavations, in 1961, 1962 and continuing, by B.K. Davison, (see plans AO/63/373/6), were inconclusive in dating the outermost earthworks but indicate a late 11th/early 12th c. dating for much of the inner work. A timber-building was found withing the bailey.
The earthworks are scheduled. (5-8)

The motte, at ST 27111586 is a natural hill steepened by scarping, and with vesiges of two defences on the N., now shallow ditches and berms. The small bailey is centred at ST 27121581. To the N. of the motte there is a low lying complex of banks and ditches in a dense forestry plantation. These were first noted by Warre in 1854, but were ignored by St. G. Gray in his report of 1903 and have not been investigated since. They appear to be merely a combination of natural scarps, terraced tracks, old field banks and sand diggings. The main ramparts to the S.E. of the motte and bailey are of uncertain origin although of I.A. appearance. The utilization of the innermost rampart in the 12th century indicates a second bailey, centred at ST 27161577. An apparently original entrance in the second rampart, at ST 27241569, was found during the 1961/2 excavations, but entrances through the other ramparts are as yet uncertain. No certain evidence has been found for the existence of the beacon, but a low mound on the S.E. edge of the motte's level summit may be significant. The site commands a very extensive view. There is a pillow-mound in the area between the outer ramparts (2).
Re-survey at 1/2500. (9)

The earthworks are as described and surveyed by N. V. Quinnell. The excavations by B.K. Davison were concluded in 1963. Exploratory trenches indicated that the motte and small inner bailey represented the final stage in the fortification of the site, and a stone wall was encountered around the summit of the motte. The evidence from the excavations was inconclusive, but suggests that the total period of occupation was from c.1070 to c.1150 (9a). A final report is now being prepared for publication in the Proc. of the Somer. Arch. and Nat. Hist. Soc. (10)

Castle Neroche, a strongly-defended earthwork, situated on the north-east scarp of the Blackdown Hills. Excavation in 1961-4 revealed four main phases of construction:
Period I, (undated) a rampart was built which enclosed nearly 7 1/2 acres.
Period II, (soon after the Norman Conquest) is defined by a smaller enclosure constructed within the earlier defences. Locally produced pottery of a distinctively Northern French type was connected with this period.
Period III, the site was converted into a motte and bailey by the building of a motte astride the Period II enclosure, one corner of which was sub-divided to form a barbican and an outer line of defence was added.
The new castle appears to have passed out of permanent use by the early 12th century but was refurbished for a brief period during the mid-12th century. (11)

(Centred ST 27191579) Castle Neroche (NR) (12)

Published 1:2500 survey correct.
No change from report of 29.9.65. (13)

Castle Neroche, Norman built enclosure on an existing site, converted later by the building of a motte. (14-16)

Castle Neroche. The earthworks as described and surveyed are generally well preserved but some have suffered superficial damage from uprooted trees and public access. Gravel car parking areas and tracks have been created within the S rampart and railed footpaths have been constructed across the mound. The forestry plantation has been thinned out and the scrub cleared. (The pillow mound mentioned by auth 9 as being in the area between the outer ramparts is now recorded as ST 21 NE 16). (17)

Site resurveyed at 1:1000 scale by EH investigators Jan-March 2003 (19). See Newman P 2003 for full report (20)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1903
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 2
Source : South and west Somerset
Source details :
Page(s) : 252
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1958
Source Number : 10
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 GHP 29-SEP-65
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : Somerset archaeology and natural history : the proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
Source details : (BK Davison)
Page(s) : 16-58
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Vol(s) : 116 - 1972
Source Number : 12
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 25" 1965
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Source Number : 13
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F3 MJF 18-SEP-75
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Source Number : 14
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Ancient Earthworks and Camps of Somerset 1924 pp126-7 illus (EJ Burrow)
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Source Number : 15
Source : The archaeology of south west Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 207, 208
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Source Number : 16
Source : The archaeology of medieval England
Source details :
Page(s) : 108, 122
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Source Number : 17
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F4 MJF 05-APR-90
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Source Number : 18
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Volume II : Norfolk-Yorkshire and the islands
Source details :
Page(s) : 442
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2
Source Number : 19
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Newman P 04-Aug-2003 EH Archaeological Field Investigation
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Source Number : 3
Source : The Victoria history Somerset, volume two
Source details :
Page(s) : 519
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Vol(s) : 1911
Source Number : 20
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Newman P 2003. Castle Neroche, Staple Fitzpain, Somerset: an earthwork survey. EH AI survey report AI/12/2003 NMR
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Source : Field report on ST 21 NE 8 - 05-APR-1990
Source details :
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Source Number : 4
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : Ancient Mons 1961 (MOW) p83
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Source Number : 5
Source : Somerset archaeology and natural history : the proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
Source details : (H St G Cray)
Page(s) : 23
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 49 - 1903
Source Number : 6
Source : Somerset archaeology and natural history : the proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
Source details : (F Warre)
Page(s) : 29
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1854
Source Number : 7
Source : Ordnance Survey map of southern Britain in the Iron Age
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 1963
Source Number : 8
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Somerset & Dorset Notes and Queries 28 1962 pp49ff, 101ff (Plans) (BK Davidson)
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Source Number : 9
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 NVQ 18-OCT-62
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Source Number : 9a
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : F Hawtin Taunton Museum
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Hillfort
Evidence : Conjectural Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date :
Monument End Date : 1150
Monument Start Date : 1070
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Disused mid C12
Monument End Date : 1166
Monument Start Date : 1133
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 24006
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 4/33/14
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : SO 19
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : ST 21 NE 8
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, CASTLE NEROCHE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1903-01-01
End Date : 1903-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CASTLE NEROCHE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1961-01-01
End Date : 1964-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON ST 21 NE 8
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1962-10-18
End Date : 1962-10-18
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON ST 21 NE 8
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-09-29
End Date : 1965-09-29
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON ST 21 NE 8
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1975-09-18
End Date : 1975-09-18
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: OS SWEEPS
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1983-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ST 21 NE 8
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1990-04-05
End Date : 1990-04-05
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND ADJACENT TO CASTLE NEROCHE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CASTLE NEROCHE, BLACKDOWN HILLS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31