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HER Number: 1532
Record Type: Building
Name: Fragment of Castle to N of Ascott d'Oyley Manor House


  • Scheduled Monument () 1008401: Ascott d'Oyley 12th century motte and bailey castle and associated earthworks
Grid Reference: SP 301 190

Monument Type(s):


Includes the C12 castle, its stone keep, the associated early bailey earthworks, later pond features and associated walkways and part of the shrunken medieval village.

Associated Monuments

  • None
  • Associated Finds:

  • None
  • Description

    1) The motte survives as a small earthen and clay mound measuring 32m across and standing up to 3m high. It has a 20m diameter flat summit on which can be seen the open remains of a central tower, partly excavated in 1946, and consisting of a 5m square room enclosed by walls between 2.5m and 3.5m thick. The exposed inside walls of this tower are 0.8m high and of dry stone construction. The excavations showed that the tower stands on the old ground level and that the mound is built against it rather than the more usual method of building a tower on the top of an artificial mound. A quantity of medieval pottery and two arrowheads were also found in the tower. From documentary sources, which support the excavated evidence, it is known that the castle was built between 1129 and 1150 and that the tower was deliberately demolished in c.1175.
    To the SW of the motte stands an interrupted platform bounded by a broad outer ditch. This has been interpreted as the remains of the original bailey. The platform stands 1m high and is cut by a 3m wide ditch which runs S from the mound. The main platform is a roughly square area measuring 28m from E to W and 32m from N to S. A spur to the N measures 35m in length and varies in width from 2.5m to 6m.
    To the N and W of the motte is a series of earthworks contained within an outer bank and ditch which enclose an area c. 200m from SW to NE and c.50m from NW to SE. This area represents the main bailey. The inner bank of this bailey measures up to 10.6m across and stands up to 0.7m high. The surrounding ditch measures up to 110m across and, although partially infilled, is visible as a 0.3m deep feature. Beyond this is a counterscarp bank which measures up to 5m across and stands up to 0.3m high. Two ditches run from the NW and NE corners of the bailey to the River Evenlode, forming an enclosed meadow along a 212m length of the river bank.
    To the W of this bailey is a series of low earthworks which represent the house platforms of a medieval settlement outside the castle. These extend up to a well established hedge line which marks a change in the ground level beyond which the land is 0.2m lower. These earthworks represent part of the village which was divided between two manors in the medieval period with the other manor of Ascott Earl also possessing a motte and bailey castle, only c.600m to the SW.
    The bailey earthworks were altered at a later date to provide garden earthworks for the manor. These include 6m wide banks which provide raised walkways and a number of pond bays connected by a series of open ditches. Such water garden earthworks are often associated with later medieval and early post-medieval manors and houses.
    The area of the bailey immediately W of the motte has been built over by the farmyard of the later manor and includes a number of listed buildings including: The Manor House (Grade II*), a doorway in the wall to the SE of The Manor House (Grade II), the granary to the W of The Manor House (Grade II) and a fragment of the castle to the N of The Manor House (Grade II).
    Excluded from the scheduling are the surface of the drive to The Manor House, the boundary fences which separate the paddock and fields, the listed buildings (except for the fragment of the castle which is included) and the other standing buildings and their service trenches; the ground beneath all of the above features is, however, included in the scheduling.
    2) Documentary sources suggest castle built c.1129-50, demolished soon after 1175. Small motte NE of manor house (PRN 3956), bailey ditches to NW and West. Excavated 1946-7. Mound found to encase a stone tower 35' square, which has been deliberately demolished, probably c.1180 to within 6' of its footings, and the mound smoothed off to its present shape. Important group of mid C12th pottery.
    3) Excavation not backfilled, tower foundations still visible.
    5) Further excavations show that the stone tower was built and clay mound piled against it.
    7) Survey of earthworks undertaken by members of Wychwoods Local History Society under direction of J Bond, October 1999. Possible small bailey SE of motte and tower recognised as predecessor(?) of main bailey. Large outer enclosure extending north and west of manor house and castle most likely to represent semi-defensive boundary of a short-lived village site at or shortly after its foundation, but then abandoned or removed to site of present village. The survey suggested a settlement to the south-west of the castle, comprising a series of regular crofts on both sides of a street.
    10) Preliminary report of 1946 excavations. Excavations of a mound in the orchard of the manor house of Ascott D'Oyley revealed remains of a detached stone tower. The remains of the walls stood to 2 feet above the floor and no entrance was detected, although a small projection in the south-west may have supported an external wooden stair. The fill layer above the floor contained C12 pottery. Well preserved woodwork, hazel twigs and nuts, fresh-water mussels, and pottery were recovered from the ditch fill at the north-west corner of the mound.
    11) One of 2 confirmed motte and bailey castles (other Ascott Earl motte and bailey castle, PRN3190) guarding river crossings in Ascott. It is considered likely that the associated settlement would have been partly or fully cleared during the design and construction of the manor house, gardens and associated buildings in 1335.

    <1> English Heritage, Scheduled Ancient Monuments Record, SM 21790 (Scheduling record). SOX283.

    <2> Antiquaries Journal, Vol XXXIX nos 3-4, July-Oct 1959; pp 219-273. Jope and Threlfall; in DRF (Serial). SOX358.

    <3> Field Notes/Field Visit, C J Bond, J Campbell, J Rhodes, May 1976 (Unpublished document). SOX261.

    <4> Dept of Environment/DCMS, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, West Oxon List 89: 4/11, p.5 (Index). SOX260.

    <5> Medieval Archaeology, Vol II (1958) p.195 (Serial). SOX318.

    <6> General reference, Norman Castles in Britain, pp.91,94 (1973). (Bibliographic reference). SOX373.

    <7> Oxford Architectural & Historical Society, Oxoniensia, Vol LXVI (2001) pp.43-69. C J Bond (Serial). SOX284.

    <8> Black and White print photographs, 2 of bank taken 1969 (Photograph). SOX315.

    <9> Black and White print photographs, 2 of Ascott D'oilly moat taken in 1969 by D Benson (PRN 1139) (Photograph). SOX315.

    <10> Oxford Architectural & Historical Society, Oxoniensia, vol. 11-2 (1946-7) pp. 165-7. (Serial). SOX284.

    <11> Victoria County History of Oxford, vol. xix, p. 82, 88 (Serial). SOX252.


    <1>XY>English Heritage. Scheduled Ancient Monuments Record. SM 21790. [Mapped feature: #50396 Scheduled area, ] [Scheduling record / SOX283]
    <2>Antiquaries Journal. Vol XXXIX nos 3-4, July-Oct 1959; pp 219-273. Jope and Threlfall; in DRF. [Serial / SOX358]
    <3>Field Notes/Field Visit. C J Bond, J Campbell, J Rhodes, May 1976. [Unpublished document / SOX261]
    <4>Dept of Environment/DCMS. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. West Oxon List 89: 4/11, p.5. [Index / SOX260]
    <5>Medieval Archaeology. Vol II (1958) p.195. [Serial / SOX318]
    <6>General reference. Norman Castles in Britain, pp.91,94 (1973).. [Bibliographic reference / SOX373]
    <7>Oxford Architectural & Historical Society. Oxoniensia. Vol LXVI (2001) pp.43-69. C J Bond. [Serial / SOX284]
    <8>Black and White print photographs. 2 of bank taken 1969. [Photograph / SOX315]
    <9>Black and White print photographs. 2 of Ascott D'oilly moat taken in 1969 by D Benson (PRN 1139). [Photograph / SOX315]
    <10>Oxford Architectural & Historical Society. Oxoniensia. vol. 11-2 (1946-7) pp. 165-7.. [Serial / SOX284]
    <11>Victoria County History of Oxford. vol. xix, p. 82, 88. [Serial / SOX252]