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Somerset Historic Environment Record


Site Name: Motte and Bailey Castle, Cockroad Wood, Charlton Musgrove
SCHEDULED MONUMENT: Motte and bailey castle in Cockroad Wood [No:24018]
Civil Parish: Charlton Musgrove
Grid Ref: ST 7461 3218 (ST 73 SW)
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Image: Image of HER 53716 - Mick Aston. Photo by Somerset County Council (09 March 1976)
  HER 53716 - Mick Aston. Photo by Somerset County Council (09 March 1976)

Public access:

The public accessibility of this site is unknown or has not been checked. Please ask locally and do not visit without permission. [Information last updated on 21 May 2003]


The HER is currently being transferred to a new system. Please ask about this changed entry. {0}

Motte with two baileys, one to the S and the other to the NW, the whole situated along a ridge running N-S. The S bailey appears to have been divided into three smaller enclosures and there is evidence of a slight platform at the junction of these. No masonry is apparent in the construction and there is no obvious entrance, though there may have been one to the E of the motte where the ditch around the S bailey ends. The small counterscarp, partway down the bank around the S bailey, appears to be contemporary but has no obvious purpose. {1}

Strong defensive position. The motte is 6-7.5m high from the bottom of the ditch which completely encircles it and which is 1-1.25m deep and 13.5m wide The motte has a flat irregular top some 13.5m diameter with no traces of stone buildings. The rectangular bailey to the S is surrounded by a strong bank and ditch. On the W it is scarped out of the hillside, on the S the ditch is 1.5-3m deep and the inner bank 4.5m high, on the E the ditch is 1.5m deep with the bank 3m high. The bailey appears to be divided by an internal bank but it is not visible clearly because of the undergrowth. In addition there is a triangular shaped bailey on the NW side of the motte with dimensions 36m N-S and 32m at its widest point. This bailey lies under a fir plantation with some silver birch as well. Bracken is growing in the ditches The remaining areas of the site are surrounded by fir plantations but were obviously carefully avoided when the trees were planted. Birch trees are invading this clear area which is covered with bracken. {3}

Motte and bailey castle on the edge of a summit. Counterscarp bank outside bailey ditch on S. On the far side of the bailey rampart from the motte is a projecting terrace between bank and ditch (referred to as a small counterscarp in earlier entry above), and it is possible that this formed an abutment for a bridge. One of the internal banks in the bailey leads from inside this, and the banks may have been raised walkways. The smaller bailey on the NW is enclosed by a bank, ditch and counterscarp bank; it has been suggested that this may be a ringwork and overlain by the motte. {5}

Both baileys are separated from the ditched motte by banks. There are no obvious entrances to the castle, suggesting the use of bridges, walkways and steps. {6}

The land was held by Walter of Douai at the time of the Domesday survey, together with Castle Cary and Bridgwater, both of which later had a castle. By the reign of Henry II the area had become a royal forest. {7}

Scheduled area affirmed with new national number 24 March 1994 (was Somerset 285). {8}

Monument lies within mature conifer plantation, although itself is unplanted, with a cover of bracken and some fairly mature birch trees. Monument is in excellent, stable condition, except NW lower slope of motte where badger activity continues. {9}

The castle forms part of a group of three similar sites with Ballands Castle (PRN 54381) and Castle Orchard (in Wiltshire). All are undocumented but it is possible that they are related to the subjugation following the uprising against Montacute in 1069. Several of the manors in the area show a distinct reduction in value between 1066 and 1086 as recorded in Domesday. {10}


0 Compiler comment - Webster, CJ (Chris). Somerset Historic Environment Record (12/02/2016). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained.
1 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division record card. Record ID: ST 73 SW 5 (1966) Location: HER file. HER digital source: 1838.
2 Mention - Page, W. Victoria History of the County of Somerset.  Vol. 2 (1911), 513.
3 Detailed records - Various. Department of the Environment and English Heritage (1980s) Location: HER collections.
4 Aerial photographs - RAF CPE/UK/1924 1258-9. (16/01/1947) Location: Somerset Studies at Somerset Heritage Centre.
5 Illustration - Aston, M and Burrow, I (eds). The Archaeology of Somerset.  (1982), 125.
6 Detailed records - Preece, A. Motte and bailey castle in Cockroad Wood.  (17/9/1993) unpublished Monuments Protection Programme report for English Heritage. Location: HER file. HER digital source: 24077.
7 Verbal communication - Dunning, RW [Robert]. Victoria County History of Somerset (1993). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained
8 Correspondence - English Heritage to Somerset County Council. (31/3/1994) Location: HER files.
9 Site visit report - Graham, A (Alan). English Heritage Field Monument Warden (24/2/1999) Location: HER file. HER digital source: 16702.
10 Description - Creighton, OH. Early castles in the medieval landscape of Wiltshire. Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine  93 (2000), 105-19 (page 112). Copy available in SANHS library at Somerset Heritage Centre.

Record created in October 1984

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