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HER Number:MDV1123
Name:Croft Castle, Winkleigh


The remains of a motte presumed to be 11th to 12th century in date.


Grid Reference:SS 630 080
Map Sheet:SS60NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishWinkleigh
Ecclesiastical ParishWINKLEIGH

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS60NW/4
  • Old SAM Ref: 30303
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS60NW4

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CASTLE (XI to XII - 1066 AD to 1200 AD)
  • MOTTE (XI to XII - 1066 AD to 1200 AD)

Full description

Devon County Council, Watching Brief (Ground Photograph). SDV11994.

Other details: 6 Slides.

Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 613-4 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

A mount with an escarpment 6 metres high on the summit is a platform 1.8 metres wide surrounding a hollow which descends 3.6 metres into the mound. Other details: Plan 615.

Allcroft, A. H., 1908, Earthwork of England, 404,420-1 (Monograph). SDV11975.

Brief description in Allcroft. Mound measures 33.5 metres diameter at base.

Radford, C. + Radford, R., 1939, 18th Report on Ancient Monuments, 67 (Article in Serial). SDV11940.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 516 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Croft Castle, sunken motte or ringwork, partly destroyed by building. At the southwest end of Castle Street is a small mount known as Croft Castle. May have been a fortified manor house rather than a true Norman castle site.

Renn, D. F., 1959, Mottes. A Classification, 110 (Article in Serial). SDV11931.

A siege work for Court Castle.

King, D. J. C. + Alcock, L., 1969, Ringworks of England and Wales, 113 (Article in Serial). SDV39240.

A class 'A' ringwork (ie enclosed area at ground level). Fragment of bank.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1971 - 1977, SS60NW4 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV11977.

Site visit: 15th June 1971. This feature is a castle mound consisting of a crescentic bank encompassed by a berm resulting from a driveway, and outside this the remains of a largely infilled ditch. The centre and south west quadrant has been destroyed and is occupied by the village hall, built 1936-38. It is now impossible to judge whether the central hollow was an original feature, but where the interior is now sectioned, the composition is that of a clean soil with no signs of masonry, sleeper trenches or postholes.

Higham, R. A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon, 124-6,248-9,260,293,296, 298,315,317,321, Fig 36 (Post-Graduate Thesis). SDV336189.

Description as above. A mound with sunken top. No bailey visible, though may be suggested by field boundaries. Castle probably founded in 1130's or 1140's (the Civil War of Stephen's reign) in opposition to Court Castle. In the 13th century it was a separate manor from Court Castle. Other details: PHD Thesis, Exeter University.

Devon County Council, 1982, Film 539/5-8, Film 542/2-3 (Photograph). SDV11989.

Griffiths, D. M., 1982, Motte - Watching Brief (Worksheet). SDV11978.

Watching brief rendered necessary by collapse and rebuilding of front (south) part of village hall, which involved the digging of new foundations. Results were rather inconclusive. No medieval pottery was recovered. Tip lines seen in section may represent the rampart or edge of motte or make-up for village hall. There is some doubt as to the original form of the castle. Other details: Plan. Slides.

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

Probert, S. A. J. + Dunn, C. J., 1993, Court Castle, Winkleigh, Devon (Report - Survey). SDV11936.

New survey carried out, prompted by a survey of Court Castle, Winkleigh in May 1992.

Probert, S. A. J. + Dunn, C. J., 1993, Croft Castle, Winkleigh, Devon (Report - Survey). SDV355548.

A survey of the remaining earthworks of Croft Castle, which is situated on the south-western side of Winkleigh, was carried out in 1993. It is one of a pair of castles in the village. The other, Court Castle is situated at the north-eastern end of the village. It is difficult to say whether or not they were once intervisible as they are both now tree-covered and the view between obscured by the village.
The earthworks of Croft Castle originally comprised a circular or oval motte surrounded by a ditch on at least the north, west and east sides and with an oval hollow in the top. There is no evidence for a bailey. The Victoria County History depicts a circular motte, giving its height as 20 feet (6.2m) with a 6 feet (1.8m) wide platform on top surrounding a central hollow, 12 feet (3.7m) deep.
The motte was compromised in 1938 when the village hall was built into the southern and western side, resulting in the reduction in the height of the motte in this area. What now survives is a tree-covered crescent shaped mound representing the north and eastern sides of the motte flanking the remains of the interior and south-western rim. Only the western part of the ditch appears to survive, although now infilled. The north and eastern sections are now covered by a trackway.
Nevertheless it is still possible to establish the basal diameter of the motte, of 44.5m by 42m. It’s maximum height is 4.4m, with the truncated western part still standing 2.7m above the infilled ditch. The surviving rim-like top is flat, 1.8m-2.1m wide. Its inner face is a steep scarp, up to 3.1m deep, all that remains of the eastern side of the central depression, and which now marks the perimeter of a small lawn which now occupies part of the former hollow.
The hollowed form of the motte has been the subject of much discussion, whether it was a motte or a ringwork or even the site of a fortified manor house rather than a castle.
It is possible that Croft Castle represents a siege castle built during the time of the civil war in the 12th century. At that time the manor of Winkleigh was divided in two. The Tracey’s, who were supporters of the king, held the smaller portion which appears to have included Croft Castle while the Keynes, who were allied to the Duke of Gloucester [brother of the Empress Matilda] held the larger part with Court Castle. Alternatively, rather than a siege castle, Croft Castle could have been built as a status symbol, the result of competition between the two manors.

Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P., 1996, Devon Castles (Draft Text), 3, 4, 7, 11, Gazetteer (Monograph). SDV354350.

Croft Castle lies at the south-western end of Winkleigh and may have originally been intervisible with Court Castle at the other end of the village. There is no medieval documentary evidence for Croft Castle but it is almost certainly the second of the two castles in Winkleigh mentioned by Risdon in 1640. Their close proximity suggests that they may have been a product of the division of the manor into two in the 12th century. It is also possibly that Croft Castle, which is the smaller of the two, was a siege work constructed in opposition to Court Castle during the civil war of Stephen's reign.
Only a crescent shaped section of the motte now survives, the rest having been destroyed to build the village hall in 1938.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 1997, Croft Castle (Schedule Document). SDV339172.

This monument survives as an oval mound, although part of the rampart which originally enclosed the summit of the mound also remains. The ditch surrounding the mound is preserved mainly as a buried feature, although its extent appears to be fossilised in the adjacent road and boundary layouts. The mound itself measures 45 metres north-east to south-west and 42 metres from north-west to south-east. Where it has been cut to produce a platform for the village hall it is up to 2.7 metres high, but the arc which survives uncut, on the east side, is up to 4.5 metres high. A portion of the rampart which originally enclosed the hollow centre of the mound survives. It measures 7 metres wide at the top. The west side of the mount remains largely intact to a height of 2.7 metres although the upper sections have been removed to facilitate the construction of the village hall. The hall also has a small cellar which has cut into the mound on its north-west side. To the south, the mound has been cut to enable the construction of a stone built retaining wall which prevents subsidence from the mound onto the public highway. This retaining wall continues around the base of the mound as it passes an adjacent building called Castle School. The gate piers and adjoining walls to the northeast of the monument are listed grade II. The ditch which surrounds the mound is preserved largely as a buried feature. On the southeast side, the alignment of the public highway indicates the line of the ditch. A 6.7 metres wide vehicular access to the rear of the village hall follows the line of the ditch around the base of the mound from the north of the monument to the east. However, this feature is not as wide as the original ditch which extends into the garden of an adjacent property. Within this property, the edge of the ditch appears to be marked by a coursed stone retaining wall, 6 metres beyond and parallel to the edge of the track. On the southwest side, the ditch has been cut by the construction of Castle School rooms dated to 1840 and listed grade II. The gardens of this building are seen to curve around to northeast, thus following the line of the original ditch. The castle is thought to have been founded in the mid 1100's, possibly in opposition to the nearby Court Castle and by the 13th century it certainly formed part of a separate manor. The village hall, Castle School rooms and road surface of Castle Street are all excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included. Monument includes a medieval ringwork, known as Croft Castle which is located on a ridge overlooking the valley of the Bullow Brook to the south. To the north-east lies a second medieval castle which is the subject of a separate scheduling.

Humphreys, C., 2005, Land between Shute Lane & Exeter Road, Winkleigh, 2.2, 2.3 (Report - Assessment). SDV322214.

Winkleigh Tracey is associated with the ring-work known as Croft Castle at the western end of Winkleigh village. From an early date the manor was divided into two associated with the Keynes and Tracey families. Winkleigh Tracey remained a separate manor into the 18th century when the two manors were reunited in the family of Lethbridge.

English Heritage, 2010, Croft Castle, Winkleigh, Torridge, Devon (Correspondence). SDV344693.

Scheduled Monument Consent granted, subject to conditions, in respect of proposed works concerning the relaying of a path.

Ordnance Survey, 2010, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV344030.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV11931Article in Serial: Renn, D. F.. 1959. Mottes. A Classification. Antiquity. 33. Unknown. 110.
SDV11936Report - Survey: Probert, S. A. J. + Dunn, C. J.. 1993. Court Castle, Winkleigh, Devon. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field Investigation. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV11940Article in Serial: Radford, C. + Radford, R.. 1939. 18th Report on Ancient Monuments. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 71. A5 Paperback. 67.
SDV11975Monograph: Allcroft, A. H.. 1908. Earthwork of England. Earthwork of England. Unknown. 404,420-1.
SDV11977Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1971 - 1977. SS60NW4. SS60NW. Card Index.
SDV11978Worksheet: Griffiths, D. M.. 1982. Motte - Watching Brief. Worksheet + Digital.
SDV11989Photograph: Devon County Council. 1982. Film 539/5-8, Film 542/2-3. Planning Dept: Conservation Section. Slide.
SDV11994Ground Photograph: Devon County Council. Watching Brief. Slide.
SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 516.
SDV322214Report - Assessment: Humphreys, C.. 2005. Land between Shute Lane & Exeter Road, Winkleigh. Southwest Archaeology Report. 050720. A4 Stapled + Digital. 2.2, 2.3.
SDV336189Post-Graduate Thesis: Higham, R. A.. 1979. The Castles of Medieval Devon. University of Exeter Thesis. Unknown. 124-6,248-9,260,293,296, 298,315,317,321, Fig 36.
SDV339172Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 1997. Croft Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV341278Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 1988. Devon Castles: An Annotated List. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 46. Paperback Volume. 144.
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 613-4.
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #71695 ]
SDV344693Correspondence: English Heritage. 2010. Croft Castle, Winkleigh, Torridge, Devon. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Letter.
SDV354350Monograph: Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P.. 1996. Devon Castles (Draft Text). Devon Castles. A4 Unbound + Digital. 3, 4, 7, 11, Gazetteer.
SDV355548Report - Survey: Probert, S. A. J. + Dunn, C. J.. 1993. Croft Castle, Winkleigh, Devon. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV39240Article in Serial: King, D. J. C. + Alcock, L.. 1969. Ringworks of England and Wales. Chateau Gaillard. 3. Unknown. 113.

Associated Monuments

MDV1124Related to: Court Castle, Winkleigh (Monument)
MDV21763Related to: Winkleigh Borough (Monument)
MDV71523Related to: Winkleigh County Primary School (Building)
MDV71522Related to: Winkleigh, Castle School (Building)
MDV71520Related to: Winkleigh, Settlement (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV1859 - SS60NW 4
  • EDV1861 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV1862 - Film 539/5-8, Film 542/2-3
  • EDV1863 - Land between Shute Lane & Exeter Road, Winkleigh

Date Last Edited:Nov 30 2023 4:21PM