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Dunster Castle

Hob Uid: 36863
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Dunster
Grid Ref : SS9911043440
Summary : Castle of 11th century origins, rebuilt in the mid 13th century and 1420. The house was built circa 1617 and altered in 1867. By 1086 a castle, probably of the motte and bailey type, was established here by the Mohun family using the strong natural defences of the hill. A stone-built castle was in existence by 1138 but no masonry from this seems to survive. At about that time the castle was held by William de Mohun against Henry de Tracy and although seigeworks were erected, no structures remain. In the Civil War it was held against the Royalists, but was taken by them in 1642. Later in 1645-6, after a six month seige, it was retaken by the Parliamentarians. In 1649 it was ordered to be dismantled, although little demolition was carried out. A view of the castle in 1733 shows the motte used as a gazebo and pleasure garden, but with much of the rest of the castle retaining medieval features. The scheduling relates to the natural features and associated below ground remains which together formed the medieval motte and bailey of Dunster Castle.
More information : [Centred SS 99114344] Dunster Castle [NR] Site of Keep [NR] (1)

Dunster Castle. Nothing now remains of the Norman castle or of the later medieval buildings. The old gateway to the Lower Ward with the towers flanking it, and some sections of wall are probably mid 13th century. In 1420 Sir Hugh Luttrell built a new gatehouse spanning the approach from the town; this still stands, but two towers were added on its inner side in the 18th century. The existing house dates in the main from c.1571 but since then, substantial alterations have taken place culminating in those of 1867 (2).

Description and plan - see Illustration Card . (2-3)

The castle is sited on a steep sided hill. The Norman motte seems to have been formed by scarping the hill top, and it is difficult to differentiate between natural and artificial slopes. This difficulty has been further increased by later terracing of the hill, for a carriage drive and landscape gardening. Earthworks surveyed at 1:2500. (4)

Dunster Castle and gatehouse, Grade I, Castle Hill. Built originally by William de Mohun in the 11th century. Of the Norman castle no trace remains, the oldest surviving feature is the 13th century gateway. The gatehouse was erected in 1420. (For full description see list.) (5)

The place name Dunster indicates that in the Saxon period the torre, presumably Castle Hill, belonged to a man called Dun and it is possible that the hill may have been fortified in pre-Conquest times. By 1086 a castle, probably of the motte and bailey type, was established here by the Mohun family using the strong natural defences of the hill. A stone built castle was in existence by 1138 but no masonry from this seems to survive. At about that time the castle was held by William de Mohun against Henry de Tracy and although seigeworks were erected, no structures remain. There are many medieval references to buildings and structures in both an upper and lower ward of the castle. In the Civil War it was held against the Royalists, but was taken by them in 1642. Later in 1645-6, after a six month seige, it was retaken by the Parliamentarians. In 1649 it was ordered to be dismantled, although little demolition was carried out. A view of the castle in 1733 shows the motte used as a gazebo and pleasure garden, but with much of the rest of the castle retaining medieval features. (6-8)

Additional bibliography. (9-21)

As reported by authy 4, the site of the original Norman motte and bailey is difficult to discern due to three factors: the extreme topography of the hill on which the castle is sited; later landscaping and dense garden planting; later building and re-building work. The current 1:2500 depiction records the motte as an earthwork centred at SS 9910 4345, with a very level top, the result of early 18th century landscaping. The bailey was in the level area to the northeast, now occupied by the Castle. Part of a curtain wall and tower from the 13th century survive at SS 9914 4354. (22).

The history of the Castle has been researched in considerable dtail by Gibb, who records the site from earliest times onwards (23).

Listed by Cathcart King. (24)

Additional reference. (25)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1928-38
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details : (M Whinney)
Page(s) : 123
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 107, 1950
Source Number : 11
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Armitage E S. 1912. Early Norman Castles
Page(s) : 145-6, 398
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : Medieval military architecture in England. Volume 1
Source details :
Page(s) : 24-32, 146
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 13
Source : Country Life
Source details :
Page(s) : 689-694
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 14
Source Number : 14
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Mackenzie J. 1887. Castles of England 2, 54
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 15
Source : Devonshire Association reports and transactions
Source details :
Page(s) : 34-40
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 60, 1928
Source Number : 16
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Armitage E S. 1904. English Historic Review 19, 229-30
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 17
Source : Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, Bath
Source details :
Page(s) : 56-63
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 52, 1906
Source Number : 18
Source : Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, Bath
Source details : (A W Vivian-Neal)
Page(s) : 63
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 104, 1960
Source Number : 19
Source : Castles
Source details :
Page(s) : 60
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 20
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Turner T H. Domestic Architecture of England 3 Pt 2, 339
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details : (G T Clark)
Page(s) : 309-20, 400-01
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 36, 1879
Source Number : 21
Source : South and west Somerset
Source details :
Page(s) : 156-57
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 22
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Riley H 1998 RCHME Field Investigation
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 22
Source : Register of parks and gardens of special historic interest in England
Source details : Somerset
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : Part 37
Source Number : 23
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 : 24
Source : Ordnance Survey guide to castles in Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 83
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 25
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : Scheduling revision 24-Apr-2002
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 GHP 27-MAY-65
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : District of West Somerset, August 1983
Page(s) : 8
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Historic towns in Somerset
Source details :
Page(s) : 46
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : no.2
Source Number : 7
Source : The National Trust guide
Source details :
Page(s) : 100-2
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, Bath
Source details :
Page(s) : Jan-14
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 125, 1981
Source Number : 9
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details :
Page(s) : 386-404,
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 37, 1880
Source Number : 10
Source : West Country historic houses and their families. Volume 1 : Cornwall, Devon and West Somerset
Source details :
Page(s) : 51-5
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Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : C11 origins
Monument End Date : 1099
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built in stone by 1138
Monument End Date : 1138
Monument Start Date : 1138
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Mid C13
Monument End Date : 1266
Monument Start Date : 1233
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Rebuilt in 1420
Monument End Date : 1420
Monument Start Date : 1420
Monument Type : Castle, Gatehouse
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Constructed c1617
Monument End Date : 1627
Monument Start Date : 1607
Monument Type : Fortified House
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Altered C18
Monument End Date : 1799
Monument Start Date : 1700
Monument Type : Country House
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Alterations of 1869-72
Monument End Date : 1872
Monument Start Date : 1869
Monument Type : Country House
Evidence : Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 34622
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 264651
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 33039
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 99/01193
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 94 SE 6
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 543248
Relationship type : Is referred to by
Associated Monuments : 621258
Relationship type : Is referred to by
Associated Monuments : 36933
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1155909
Relationship type : Is referred to by
Associated Monuments : 1156317
Relationship type : Is referred to by
Associated Monuments : 1156330
Relationship type : Is referred to by
Associated Monuments : 36914
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 36930
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1145491
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 543249
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 36936
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SS 94 SE 6
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-05-27
End Date : 1965-05-27
Associated Activities : Primary, DUNSTER CASTLE, (CARRIAGE DRIVE)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1983-01-01
End Date : 1983-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, DUNSTER CASTLE (DRIVEWAY)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, DUNSTER CASTLE (DRIVEWAY)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, DUNSTER CASTLE ROOF
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2006-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31