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Somerset Historic Environment Record

54678

Site Name: Croft Castle, Castle Hill, West Crewkerne
Civil Parish: West Crewkerne
Comprises:
PRN 29508Geophysical survey (2010), Croft Castle, West Crewkerne
PRN 29997Excavation (2011), Castle Hill, West Crewkerne
PRN 31593Geophysical survey (2011), Croft Castle, Castle Hill, West Crewkerne
Grid Ref: ST 4206 1075 (ST 41 SW)
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Image: Image of HER 54678 - From SE. Photo by Somerset County Council (05 May 2011)
  HER 54678 - From SE. Photo by Somerset County Council (05 May 2011)

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]

Details:

"Castle Hill" printed on Ordnance Survey map. {1}

William de Redvers (d1217) divided his land between two daughters and part of the land given to Joan was described as 'de castris'. Joan was the wife of William de Briwere and gave some of this land to Christchurch Priory (Dorset) in 1256 by a charter dated at 'Craft', evidently her residence at Crewkerne. By 1267/8 an estate known as 'Craft and Cruk' was owned by the Countess of Devon but there are no later references to a residence here. Local traditions from at least C17 locate the centre of this estate to Croft Castle. On the tithe map the isolated hill is called 'Castles'. It lies within an area of demense land which was divided into tenths by the end of the C16 but was then still known as 'Countes Croft' from the C13 ownership by the countess. The hill was planted with trees by Earl Paulett early in the C19 but was subsequently returned to grass. No visible earthworks. On the strength of the discovery of two fragments of C12 pottery, together with the name of Castle Hill, the site has been suggested as that of a Norman Castle. Ploughing in 1976 revealed eight more similar sherds, two nails and a piece of hamstone. An alternative location for the manorial centre is at at Upcroft (PRN 54679) but it may be possible that this succeeded the castle sometime in the C13. {2}

Geophysical survey (PRN 29508) in 2010 revealed a ditch seemingly enclosing the hilltop where a square area of masonry appeared to be sited. Further structures may have been detected to the SW. Further work in 2011 (PRN 31593) added to the plan which was then tested by limted excavations (PRN 29997) that confirmed the presence of defensive ditches and a stone tower or keep. Finds suggested that occupation of the site was fairly short-lived. {5}

References:

1 Map - Ordnance Survey 1:10,560 National Grid Series map. Sheet: ST41SW. (1962).
2 Detailed records - Dunning, RW. Croft Castle. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History  121 (1977), 129-30. Copy available in Local Studies collection at Somerset Heritage Centre.
3 Map - Crewkerne tithe map.  (1839) Available at Somerset Heritage Centre (digital image, fiche and originals). Reference: D/D/Rt/M/439
4 Description - Anon (Dunning, RW). Croft Castle.  (not dated) photocopy of typescript text for SANH 121. Location: HER files under PRN 54679. HER digital source: 14216.
5 Compiler comment - Webster, C [Chris]. Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record (5/1/2012). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained

Record created in January 1985

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