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HER Number:MDV7602
Name:Motte and Bailey within Loddiswell Rings


Motte and bailey castle on Blackdown Hill within the prehistoric hillfort.


Grid Reference:SX 719 520
Map Sheet:SX75SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishLoddiswell
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishLODDISWELL

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 444695
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX75SW/5/1
  • Old SAM County Ref: 30
  • Old SAM Ref: 24853
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX75SW5

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CASTLE (XI to XII - 1001 AD to 1200 AD (Between))
  • MOTTE AND BAILEY (XI to Late Medieval - 1050 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Woollcombe, H., 1839-1850, Woollcombe Manuscript (Un-published). SDV16214.

Mound and bank inside northwest entrance.

Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 618-9 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

Motte or ringwork with bailey within Iron Age enclosure. Motte with interior hollow surrounded by ditch crossed by shallow earthen causeway. The inner bailey encloses about 1 acre and is defended by a 4.2 metre high rampart and a wide ditch. It has two entrances. The outer bailey (i.e. the hillfort) encloses 10 acres. Other details: Figure 617.

Allcroft, A. H., 1908, Earthwork of England, 407-408,410,420 (Monograph). SDV11975.

Brief description and plan. Other details: Figure 128.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1952 - 1961, SX75SW4 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV346494.

Ring motte and bailey in the north-west corner of Early Iron Age hillfort.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1952 - 1961, SX75SW5 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV346506.

Motte and bailey in north-west corner of Hill Fort. Both motte and bailey make use of the defences of the hill fort. The bailey is mainly of bank and ditch construction but there is a slight counterscarp bank to the ditch on the north-east. The causewayed entrance is on the east side but the entrance to the bailey is not obvious as the ditch is interrupted. The former existence of a bridge may be indicated by a flattening of the rampart in the centre of the east side. Other details: Photograph.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 425 (Monograph). SDV17562.

It seems to be a 12th century castle site with no documentary record.

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

A class 'A' ringwork (ie enclosed area is at ground level) with bailey.

Higham, R. A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon, 142-145,250,252,257,260, 295-6,312,315,321 (Post-Graduate Thesis). SDV336189.

There was formerly an outwork to the south-west, probably related to the entrance through the outer defences, but it has now gone, and its date is unknown. Very strong defences. The central feature is of a unique form in Devon, being a deeply concave motte linked to the bailey by a causeway cut so deeply that the motte takes on the appearance of an incomplete circular earthwork. The bailey is built on a higher level than the outer enclosure. Probably founded as a campaign castle during the Norman conquest, and of short life. Other details: Figure 44, Plate 45.

Department of Environment, 1981, The Rings (Schedule Document). SDV346492.

Fine 'Mount and Bailey' Castle. Condition excellent, neither disfigured by plantation nor touched by plough or cultivation. Other details: Monument 30.

Higham, R. A., 1981, Untitled Source, 77 (Monograph). SDV64195.

Griffith, F. M., 1983, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV346495.

Site visited on 21st May 1983. Condition still excellent except for some poaching by stock.

King, D. J. C., 1983, Untitled Source, 117 (Article in Serial). SDV346507.

Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/FW, 1-6 (Aerial Photograph). SDV147956.

Higham, R. A., 1988, Devon Castles: An Annotated List, 145 (Article in Serial). SDV341278.

Griffith, F., 1988, Devon's Past. An Aerial View, 74 (Monograph). SDV64198.

Inner bailey tucked into the north-west corner of the hillfort, while the hollow-centred earthen mound within it surrounded the actual castle, which was perhaps only a single timber tower.

Wilson-North, W. R. + Dunn, C. J., 1990, 'The Rings'. Loddiswell: A New Survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 87-100 (Article in Serial). SDV346504.

Devon County Council, 1991, Blackdown Rings, Loddiswell (Leaflet). SDV346502.

Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1991, The Rings, Loddiswell (Report - Survey). SDV346497.

Earthworks surveyed in 1990. Within the Iron Age hillfort is a Norman ring-motte with a small bailey on its south-east side. Strategic site in relation to the Avon valley and through route to the sea. It occupies a prominent location at the east end of an elevated plateau with extensive views, particularly to the east. Loddiswell manor was held by Indhael of Totnes in 1086. Berm visible round perimeter of hillfort, as break of slope along north-west side of ring-motte and along bailey bank. This suggests the berm is no earlier than the castle. The western entrance to the hillfort may be associated with the castle's construction or adapted as a consequence. The ring-motte consists of a penannular bank, surrounding a hollow interior, 45 metres in overall diameter and 4 metres high. The interior is a roughly rectangular hollow, 11 metres by 7 metres, which represents either a yard or the remains of the cellars of a substantial building. On its north-west and north sides are at least two platforms, which may have held buildings. Motte bank strongest on the north and west where it incorporates the hillfort rampart, being only 2 metres high on the east where it faces the bailey. Access from the bailey was via a causeway on the east side, probably augmented by a timber superstructure. Motte ditch utilises hillfort ditch on north-west and west. The ditch is shallower on the east but is more sharply defined. The bailey occupies one third hecatre on the south-east side of the ring-motte and is defended by a bank 1.3 metres high on average but 2 metres high where it re-uses the hillfort rampart. An intermittent second bank 0.3 metres high along its inner lip may represent a hedge-line or less likely the site of a parapet. The south-west stretch of the bank has been badly disturbed by rabbit activity and slumping. The bank is fronted by a substantial ditch, 8 metres wide and 1.2 metres deep at its greatest, with a slight counterscarp beyond which has been obscured by later boundary and overploughing. There is no obvious entrance to the bailey thought a stretch of lowered bank at circa SX72005205 is a possible location. The first known depiction of the monument appears in the scrapbook of Wiliam Chapple who visited the site on 19 May 1752. He describes the monument "On Blackdown at Blackadon in the parish of Loddiswell said by the county people to be a Danish work". The ring-motte is represented by an exact circle, labelled "The Keep", with an entrance on the south-east opening into the bailey. Woollcombe (1839) planned the site in 1827 and shows the overall plan of the castle. He describes the earthworks as being in "a state of considerable perfection". Also shown on (1839) Tithe Map and the (1857) Inclosure Map. Other details: Plan.

Saunders, A. D., 1991, Untitled Source, 2 (Article in Serial). SDV346501.

Griffith, F. M., 1995, DAP/YO, 9 (Aerial Photograph). SDV156001.

Devon County Council, 1996, DAP/AAK, 7-8 (Aerial Photograph). SDV346459.

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

A fine example of a motte and bailey constructed in the the north-west corner of a prehistoric hillfort. It occupies a prominent location on the western side of the valley of the river Avon, commanding good views over the surrounding countryside.
The origins of the castle are unknown; there is no known documentary evidence until the 18th century when it is shown on a plan. However, it is presumed to be 11th to 12th century in date, perhaps built during the Norman conquest of Devon, the subsequent consolidation of estates or in the civil war of Stephen's reign.
The castle comprises a ditched ring bank or concave motte, 4 metres high and 45 metres diameter which utilises the hillfort rampart on one side. It encloses a hollow about 11 by 7 metres which is suggestive of the basement of a large building or a small yard. Platforms on the ring bank suggest the sites of other structures, one of which may be the beacon shown on the plan of 1752. A gap in the ringwork rampart marks the entrance and is connected by a causeway to the kidney-shaped bailey to the south-east. The bailey is 25 by 60 metres and surrounded by a substantial ditch and bank.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 1997, Blackdown Rings Prehistoric Hillfort and Medieval Castle (Schedule Document). SDV346493.

In the north-west part of the hillfort defences are the earthwork remains of a Medieval castle, taking the form of a ringwork and bailey. The ringwork, which occupies the highest ground available within the hillfort, is represented by a substantial penannular earthen bank surrounded by a ditch. The bank is about 35 metres in external diameter at base (natural ground level), flat topped, and with sides that slope steeply both externally and internally to form a rampart up to 4 metres in height on its highest north side. The bank would have originally supported a wooden palisade. The interior of the ringwork consists of a relatively small level area of some 7 metres diameter and is offset to the south-east of the centre of the ringwork towards a narrow entrance through the bank. At this point the bank is at its lowest at about 2 metres in height. The interior slope of the bank is very uneven, having been cut into several large scoops and gullies. The outer face of the bank slopes directly into the encircling 'V' shaped ditch which is up to 7 metres wide and 2 metres deep. In its north-west quadrant the ditch is contiguous with the ditch of the hillfort. There is a low causeway across the ditch opposite the entrance through the bank and the south quadrant of the ditch is subject to seasonal waterlogging. The bailey lies adjacent to the south-east of the ringwork and occupies a level area of approximately 0.2 hectares, measuring about 53 metres by 20 metres, enclosed by an earthwork rampart with an external ditch and counterscarp bank. The rampart consists of a steep-sided bank up to 8 metres wide and 2 metres in height. On its north side the bailey rampart overlies the hillfort rampart and at this point is at its highest. The external face of the rampart slopes directly into a steep sided ditch, about 6 metres wide and 1.2 - 2 metres deep. Material for the rampart was quarried from this ditch which interconnects with the ditches of the ringwork and hillfort. On the outer edge of the ditch there is a low counterscarp bank of about 4 metres width, which is up to 0.6 metres high where the bailey rampart joins the hillfort rampart. The south-east facing aspect of the rampart has two narrow gaps at a point where the rampart is at its lowest and the northern gap has been interpreted as the site of the original entrance into the bailey. There is an area of raised ground in the ditch opposite the entrance which may represent a causeway. Adjacent to the bailey are the slight earthwork remains of later field boundaries. Other details: Monument 24853.

National Monuments Record, 2011, 444695 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV346512.

The earthwork remains of a Medieval ringwork and bailey castle situated within the north-western part of Blackdown Rings Prehistoric hillfort. The ringwork, which occupies the highest ground available within the hillfort, is represented by a substantial penannular earthen bank surrounded by a ditch.

Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

'Motte and Bailey' shown on modern mapping.

Houghton, P., 2015, An Archaeological and Historical Report on The Upper Tamar Valley including Excavations at Lamerhooe Volume One, 67 (Report - Assessment). SDV363240.

Ringwork site with later Medieval motte added; site contrasts with that in Burley Wood, Bridestowe.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV11975Monograph: Allcroft, A. H.. 1908. Earthwork of England. Earthwork of England. Unknown. 407-408,410,420.
SDV147956Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/FW. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1-6.
SDV156001Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1995. DAP/YO. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 9.
SDV16214Un-published: Woollcombe, H.. 1839-1850. Woollcombe Manuscript. Manuscript.
SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 425.
SDV336189Post-Graduate Thesis: Higham, R. A.. 1979. The Castles of Medieval Devon. University of Exeter Thesis. Unknown. 142-145,250,252,257,260, 295-6,312,315,321.
SDV341278Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 1988. Devon Castles: An Annotated List. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 46. Paperback Volume. 145.
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 618-9.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #103059 ]
SDV346459Aerial Photograph: Devon County Council. 1996. DAP/AAK. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 7-8.
SDV346492Schedule Document: Department of Environment. 1981. The Rings. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV346493Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 1997. Blackdown Rings Prehistoric Hillfort and Medieval Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV346494Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1952 - 1961. SX75SW4. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV346495Personal Comment: Griffith, F. M.. 1983.
SDV346497Report - Survey: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1991. The Rings, Loddiswell. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Report. Plan.
SDV346501Article in Serial: Saunders, A. D.. 1991. Fortress. 10. Unknown. 2.
SDV346502Leaflet: Devon County Council. 1991. Blackdown Rings, Loddiswell. Leaflet.
SDV346504Article in Serial: Wilson-North, W. R. + Dunn, C. J.. 1990. 'The Rings'. Loddiswell: A New Survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 48. Paperback Volume. 87-100.
SDV346506Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1952 - 1961. SX75SW5. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV346507Article in Serial: King, D. J. C.. 1983. Castellarium Anglicanum. 1. Unknown. 117.
SDV346512National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2011. 444695. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
SDV354350Monograph: Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P.. 1996. Devon Castles (Draft Text). Devon Castles. A4 Unbound + Digital. 3, 7, gazetteer.
SDV39240Article in Serial: King, D. J. C. + Alcock, L.. 1969. Ringworks of England and Wales. Chateau Gaillard. 3. Unknown. 113.
SDV64195Monograph: Higham, R. A.. 1981. Archaeology of the Devon Landscape. Unknown. 77.
SDV64198Monograph: Griffith, F.. 1988. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Paperback Volume. 74.

Associated Monuments

MDV41980Parent of: Beacon on Motte on Blackdown Hill (Monument)
MDV7601Part of: Blackdown Rings (Monument)
MDV418Related to: Hembury Castle Hillfort, Buckland Brewer (Monument)
MDV1613Related to: Motte and Baileys in Burley Wood, Bridestowe (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Nov 28 2019 2:35PM