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HER Number:MDV1388
Name:Bampton Castle


A large motte and bailey presumed to be 11th to 12th century in date.


Grid Reference:SS 958 225
Map Sheet:SS92SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBampton
DistrictMid Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBAMPTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 36568
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS92SE/1
  • Old SAM County Ref: 233

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CASTLE (Built, XI to XII - 1066 AD to 1136 AD)
  • MOTTE AND BAILEY (Built, XI to XII - 1066 AD to 1136 AD)

Full description

Bampton Town Council, Bampton Castle Information Board (Illustration). SDV359136.

Unknown, Bampton Motte (Ground Photograph). SDV359129.

Photograph of Bampton Castle motte, overlooking the town and church.

Ministry of Works, Bampton, The Mount, Motte and Bailey Castle (Schedule Document). SDV344012.

The remains of a large motte and bailey castle at Bampton. The motte or mound is circa 50 foot (15.24 metres) high and dominates the town of Bampton. The bailey lay to the east overlooking the valley towards Somerset. The outer bank of the bailey forms the hedge bank of the field. In 1336 R Coggin obtained a licence to crenellate his house at Bampton, which may refer to this site although the motte and bailey are more likely to have been built by William of Douai possibly in 1086. Robert of Bampton was besieged in 1136 by Stephen. Other details: Monument Number 233. Map object based on this Source.

Fox, A., Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV337933.

The motte, 15 metres high, dominates the town of Bampton. The outer bank of the bailey to the east now forms the hedgebank of the field. In 1336, Coggin obtained a licence to crenellate his house at Bampton, and this may be the site. Built ?1086. Robert of Bampton was besieged in 1136 by King Stephen.

Timms, S. C., 15/11/1982, Bampton Castle (Plan - sketch). SDV337950.

Sketch map of tithe map fields 55-6 and 213-6 with names.

Swete, R. J. (Revd), 1792-1801, 564M 'Picturesque Sketches of Devon' by Reverend John Swete, 564M/12/32,20/131/136,139 (Record Office Collection). SDV337942.

Motte described as conical; with tree-covered sides and a crest of firs on the top. In the bailey were "portions of walls yet standing", and "masses of ruins". Also a pit, probably the well. Other details: Illustrations and Worksheet.

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

'Bampton Castle (Site of)' and 'The Mount Site of Keep' shown on 19th century map as a circular earthwork with an earthwork bank around the south and east sides.

Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 615-6 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

Bampton Castle motte and bailey. Situated at the end of the present Castle Street. The mount has an escarpment of 12 metres and is slightly hollowed at the top with a breastwork 0.6 metres in height. A rectangular bailey lies to the northeast, 152 metres by 122 metres which utilises the natural slope of the hill, although a strong artificial ditch and counterscarp bank have been created. The entrance was at the south, where there are indications of an inner work. A castle was erected here by R Coggin in 1336. Other details: Plan.

Adams, M., 1919, Proceedings at the 58th Annual Meeting, 34 (Article in Serial). SDV55584.

Minor reference only.

Rose-Troup, F., 1934 - 1935, Batthentona, 372 (Article in Serial). SDV337937.

Disputes the identification of 'Batthentona' with Bampton in connection with the siege of 1136.

Hoskins, W. G., 1952, The Making of the Agrarian Landscape, 59-77 (Article in Monograph). SDV320933.

Historical background to siege of 1136 described. Other details: Uffculme.

Donn, B., 1965, A Map of the County of Devon, 1765 (Reprint) (Monograph). SDV336413.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1967, SS92SE4 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV337934.

Bampton Castle consists of a motte with a part of the bailey surviving in southeast. The field to the north is a partly levelled recreation ground. No trace of the bailey can be seen across it. In 1969 1 week's excavation work took place on the site of proposed football pavilion north of motte. Rock cut ditch found running east-west approximately parallel with the motte ditch. Width and depth not discovered. No Medieval finds were made. Other details: Plan and sections.

Renn, D. F., 1968, Norman Castles in Britain (Monograph). SDV74059.

Possibly the castle of Robert de Bathentona 1135, mentioned in the 'Gesta Stephani'.

Anon, 1969, Preliminary report on excavations at Bampton Castle, 4 (Article in Serial). SDV337948.

Hamlin, A., 1970, Archaeological Excavations in 1969 (Monograph). SDV337947.

Grinsell, L. V., 1970, The Archaeology of Exmoor, 133,135,213 (Monograph). SDV1641.

Hamlin, A., 1972, Untitled Source, 51 (Article in Serial). SDV337936.

In 1972 trenches dug for services were watched to supplement the 1969 excavation.

Child, P. C., 1975, Bampton Castle (Personal Comment). SDV337938.

Bulldozer in process of levelling ground in bailey for construction of town council sports facilities.

Tunbridge, A. L., 1977, Motte and Bailey Castle, Bampton (Correspondence). SDV344013.

Preservation order on the motte and bailey castle at Bampton. Map object based on this Source.

Higham, R. A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon, 83-84,244,253,258,298, 315,317,321 (Post-Graduate Thesis). SDV336189.

The motte is flat-topped, giving way to sloping shoulder and steep sides. Bailey (as described above) now incomplete, but its extent is reflected in former field boundaries. Surviving bailey area has indications of underlying features, apparently stone. At northern limit of surviving bailey is a mound which may represent a bailey rampart tower. A baronial foundation, with first documentary reference in the early 12th century, although origin could be earlier. Probably out of use by 14th century, the licence to crenellate (supra) referring to an unlocated site. Other details: Figure 17.

Timms, S. C., 1982, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV337939.

The motte is tree-covered and fenced off. The area within the bailey to the east of the motte has an undulating surface, but has been reseeded and grassed over with the rest of the level recreation ground to the north (of which it now forms a part). The sports pavilion on the north side of the motte at SS95852257 is presumably the building site which was examined by Hamlin in 1969. The bailey bank to the east has been faced with stone and forms the hedgebank. It terminates at the north end in a small tree-covered mound at SS95922257. A field to the south of the A361 was called 'Lower Green' in circa 1840 and is now pasture. Following the works noted by Child in 1975, the Department of the Environment served an interim preservation notice on this site, and this was probably confirmed as a preservation order.

Griffith, F. M., 1983, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV337941.

Condition of mound, bank etc as recorded by Timms (above). Shown on Donn's map of 1765. Other details: Slides in HER.

Griffith, F. M., 1983, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV337943.

Flat topped motte with remains of rectangular bailey. Bailey defences survive to the east. To the northeast there is also an outer bank. The line of further (now invisible) earthworks may be preserved by field boundaries shown on early Ordnance Survey maps. A small inturned bank close to the southeast of the motte may represent an original entrance. The small mound inside the scarp at the northeast could mark the site of a defensive tower on the bailey perimeter. There are reports of mortared masonry being found during ploughing of 'the bailey field' (the field east of the motte), which Ordnanace Survey maps mark 'Site of Keep'.

Higham, R. A., 1986, Bampton Motte (Ground Photograph). SDV365096.

Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/GB, 8-9 (Aerial Photograph). SDV35318.

Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/HA (Aerial Photograph). SDV337964.

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

Higham, R. A. + Hamlin, A., 1990, Bampton Castle: History and Archaeology, 101-10 (Article in Serial). SDV337944.

Gesta Stephani (1135-54) refers to a castle at Bampton. It is not certain that it had been established at the Norman conquest, but it may have originated as the fortified Caput of the Domesday manor owner, Walter (aka Walscin) of Douai. Other details: Plate 1 and Figure 1.

Wilson-North, W. R., 1991, Bampton Castle: an earthwork survey, 115-9 (Article in Serial). SDV337946.

Surveyed by Royal Commission on Historic Monuments in May 1992. Remains comprise substantial motte and bailey created in late 11th - mid 12th century. Motte is generally well preserved, while only the south and southeast sides of the bailey survive intact. The position of the north side, previously unrecorded, was identified, leading to rejection of earlier suggestions of a more extensive bailey. The survey found that the motte ditch, previously thought to be infilled, survives as an earthwork on the west; the probable remains of a substantial building on the motte summit; the outer northern enclosure does not exist, and probably never did; the original bailey was a relatively small rectangular area attached to the southeast side of the motte.

Griffith, F. M., 1991, DAP/UJ, 9-13 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337966.

Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1992, Bampton Castle, Mid Devon (Monograph). SDV337965.

Wilson-North, R., 1992, Bampton Castle, Mid Devon (Report - Survey). SDV355550.

A survey of the earthworks at Bampton Castle was undertaken in May 1992 at the request of the Devon Archaeological Society. The DAS are working with the Bampton Town Council sub-committee for the motte and bailey towards making the site more accessible to the public.
The castle occupies a strategic position overlooking the town. The surviving earthworks, which date to the late 11th-mid 12th century, comprise a motte and bailey. There is also evidence for a larger enclosure to the north.
The motte, which is well-preserved, is 55m diameter at the base. A length of ditch survives around its south-western side. The motte stands about 8.7m high. The top is oval, 30m by 25m with a sub-rectangular mound, circa 17m by 8m which may represent the remains of a building.
The bailey is on the eastern side of the motte and covers about 0.6ha. The defences survive well on the southern and eastern sides but the earthworks along the northern side have been largely levelled but is visible as a slight scarp, 0.6m high
It has been suggested that the bailey once extended further to the north, evidenced by a pecked line shown on the first and second edition Ordnance Survey maps and the VCH plan. The area is now occupied by a playing field. However, the lack of a strong earthwork component on the mapping suggests that the boundary relates to a field or enclosure. The location of the boundary together with its curving shape, which does not fit in with the surrounding rectangular field pattern, furthermore suggests that it predates these fields and could potentially be earlier than the castle.

DNH, 1992, Untitled Source (Correspondence). SDV337945.

Scheduled Monument Consent granted for creation of 'Official' footpath, and garden and hedge maintenance.

Devon Archaeological Society, 1994, Bampton Castle (Leaflet). SDV337953.

Exeter Archaeology, 1996, Archaeological Assessment of a Proposed River Flood Alleviation Scheme at Bampton, 8 (Report - Assessment). SDV336861.

Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P., 1996, Devon Castles (Draft Text), 2, 3, 7, 8, 11, Gazetteer (Monograph). SDV354350.

Bampton Castle is first referred to in the 1130s but it may have been built earlier as it was owned by the family who had held it since the Norman conquest. Its location on a spur site controlled a crossing point of the River Batherm. The castle comprises a classic motte and bailey. The motte survives to almost 9.0 metres high with a base of 55.0 metres diameter together with part of the defences of a subrectangular bailey which are particularly impressive to the south and east where they take advantage of the natural slope. A slight mound on top of the motte may be the remains of a building. The lack of stonework or masonry foundations on the site suggest that the original buildings were of timber or timber and cob construction.

Wild, P. (English Heritage), 1999, Section 17 Management Agreement - Bampton Castle (Motte and Bailey) (Correspondence). SDV344014.

Three year management agreement concluded.

Stratascan, 2002, A gradiometer survey at the recreation ground, Bampton (Report - Geophysical Survey). SDV337967.

Context One Archaeological Services, 2006, Castle Grove, Bampton: an archaeological field evaluation, 3 (Report - Evaluation). SDV337932.

It has been suggested that the castle originated as the fortified caput of the Medieval manor owner. Evidence suggests substantial stonework was still visible in the early 19th century and castle remains are clearly shown on Donn's map of 1765.

Higham, R. A., 2009, Devon Castle Studies. A Personal Reflection. Devon Archaeological Society Presidential Lecture 2009, 12 (Article in Serial). SDV344775.

The mound is the motte of a castle occupied by a rebellious lord and underwent a violent siege by King Stephen. Other details: Figure 9.

Bampton Town Council, 2014, Bampton Castle (Site Visit). SDV356630.

The remains consist of a motte with an associated bailey to the east. It was previously thought that a further enclosure was located to the north of the motte as defined by the now reduced earthworks visible on the football pitch. The motte and bailey survive well and the area to the north is now used as a football pitch.
Motte: The motte is declining in condition with increasing bramble cover, scrub and sapling growth. Brambles cover the motte banks, particularly on the Northern, eastern and southern slopes. Sycamores and blackthorns are also prevalent on the slopes of the motte forming dense impenetrable thickets. Several mature trees are growing on the level top of the motte top but appear healthy and are of no immediate concerns. The top of the motte is pitted in places by tree boles and former seat posts. Around the base of the motte a revetment wall, approximately 1m high partially survives. On top of this an overgrown hedge is growing which requires re-laying. A flight of steep wooden steps on the western side of the Motte are gradually deteriorating. The angle of the stair way is also very steep.
Bailey: The interior of the bailey to the east of the motte is in good condition. The earthworks of the bailey are topped with a hedge that is need of re-laying. The possible defensive tower is overgrown with saplings and scrub. Mature trees are also present. The steep slopes below the bailey are becoming overgrown with bramble and in places scrub vegetation. A former orchard once grew here but consists of a few neglected apple trees.
To the north of the motte and bailey the ground is now occupied by the football pitch so is covered by short managed grass. The slight earthworks that can be seen running on the north side of the football pitch survive well. Following the earthwork survey of 1992 (see plan) it has since been suggested these remains are associated with a former field boundary and do not represent an outer bailey.
A number of proposal were put forward by Bampton Town Council and can be put into two categories; A) those relating to improving the condition and amenity value of the site and, B) more substantial proposals to rebuild the existing sports pavilion and the installation of practise cricket nets.
English Heritage was overall supportive of the proposals and have put forward their advice (see report for details)

Sources / Further Reading

SDV1641Monograph: Grinsell, L. V.. 1970. The Archaeology of Exmoor. The Archaeology of Exmoor: Bideford Bay to Bridgwater. A5 Hardback. 133,135,213.
SDV320933Article in Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1952. The Making of the Agrarian Landscape. Devonshire Studies. 59-77.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #81072 ]
SDV336189Post-Graduate Thesis: Higham, R. A.. 1979. The Castles of Medieval Devon. University of Exeter Thesis. Unknown. 83-84,244,253,258,298, 315,317,321.
SDV336413Monograph: Donn, B.. 1965. A Map of the County of Devon, 1765 (Reprint). A Map of the County of Devon, 1765 (Reprint). Hardback Volume.
SDV336861Report - Assessment: Exeter Archaeology. 1996. Archaeological Assessment of a Proposed River Flood Alleviation Scheme at Bampton. Exeter Archaeology Report. 96.40. A4 Stapled + Digital. 8.
SDV337932Report - Evaluation: Context One Archaeological Services. 2006. Castle Grove, Bampton: an archaeological field evaluation. Context One Archaeological Services Report. A4 stapled + Digital. 3.
SDV337933Personal Comment: Fox, A.. Ancient Monuments.
SDV337934Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1967. SS92SE4. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV337936Article in Serial: Hamlin, A.. 1972. Archaeological Review. 7. Unknown. 51.
SDV337937Article in Serial: Rose-Troup, F.. 1934 - 1935. Batthentona. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 18. Unknown. 372.
SDV337938Personal Comment: Child, P. C.. 1975. Bampton Castle.
SDV337939Personal Comment: Timms, S. C.. 1982.
SDV337941Personal Comment: Griffith, F. M.. 1983.
SDV337942Record Office Collection: Swete, R. J. (Revd). 1792-1801. 564M 'Picturesque Sketches of Devon' by Reverend John Swete. Devon Record Office Collection. Unknown + Digital. 564M/12/32,20/131/136,139.
SDV337943Personal Comment: Griffith, F. M.. 1983.
SDV337944Article in Serial: Higham, R. A. + Hamlin, A.. 1990. Bampton Castle: History and Archaeology. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 48. A5 Paperback. 101-10.
SDV337945Correspondence: DNH. 1992. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Letter.
SDV337946Article in Serial: Wilson-North, W. R.. 1991. Bampton Castle: an earthwork survey. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 49. A5 Paperback. 115-9.
SDV337947Monograph: Hamlin, A.. 1970. Archaeological Excavations in 1969. Archaeological Excavations in 1969. Unknown.
SDV337948Article in Serial: Anon. 1969. Preliminary report on excavations at Bampton Castle. Devon Archaeological Society Newsletter. 29. A5 Paperback. 4.
SDV337950Plan - sketch: Timms, S. C.. 15/11/1982. Bampton Castle. Plan + Digital.
SDV337953Leaflet: Devon Archaeological Society. 1994. Bampton Castle. Field Guide. 2. Leaflet.
SDV337964Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/HA. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper).
SDV337965Monograph: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1992. Bampton Castle, Mid Devon. Bampton Castle, Mid Devon. Unknown.
SDV337966Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1991. DAP/UJ. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 9-13.
SDV337967Report - Geophysical Survey: Stratascan. 2002. A gradiometer survey at the recreation ground, Bampton. Stratascan Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
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. 615-6.
SDV344012Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. Bampton, The Mount, Motte and Bailey Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV344013Correspondence: Tunbridge, A. L.. 1977. Motte and Bailey Castle, Bampton. Preservation Order. A4 Stapled.
SDV344014Correspondence: Wild, P. (English Heritage). 1999. Section 17 Management Agreement - Bampton Castle (Motte and Bailey). Management Agreement. Digital.
SDV344775Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 2009. Devon Castle Studies. A Personal Reflection. Devon Archaeological Society Presidential Lecture 2009. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 67. Paperback Volume. 12.
SDV35318Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/GB. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 8-9.
SDV354350Monograph: Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P.. 1996. Devon Castles (Draft Text). Devon Castles. A4 Unbound + Digital. 2, 3, 7, 8, 11, Gazetteer.
SDV355550Report - Survey: Wilson-North, R.. 1992. Bampton Castle, Mid Devon. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV356630Site Visit: Bampton Town Council. 2014. Bampton Castle. Digital.
SDV359129Ground Photograph: Unknown. Bampton Motte. Photograph (Paper) + Digital.
SDV359136Illustration: Bampton Town Council. Bampton Castle Information Board. A4 Single Sheet + Digital.
SDV365096Ground Photograph: Higham, R. A.. 1986. Bampton Motte. Photograph (Paper) + Digital.
SDV55584Article in Serial: Adams, M.. 1919. Proceedings at the 58th Annual Meeting. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 51. A5 Hardback. 34.
SDV74059Monograph: Renn, D. F.. 1968. Norman Castles in Britain. Norman Castles in Britain. Unknown.

Associated Monuments

MDV12378Related to: Castle Grove (Building)
MDV43034Related to: Castle Grove Manor House (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4190 - Castle Grove, Bampton Evaluation

Date Last Edited:Nov 30 2023 4:17PM