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Motleys Castle, Idsworth

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Motleys Copse; Blendworth

In the civil parish of Rowlands Castle.
In the historic county of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Modern Authority of Hampshire.
1974 county of Hampshire.
Medieval County of Hampshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU72481218
Latitude 50.90455° Longitude -0.97056°

Motleys Castle, Idsworth has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The ringwork and bailey at Motleys Copse survives well despite some disturbance by later quarrying, and has previously been described by J P Williams-Freeman as 'one of the most complete and perfect of Norman remains in Hampshire.' It can be expected to retain important archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the original construction of the monument and its later use. It forms part of a group of three or four well preserved mottes and ringworks, including Rowlands Castle to the south east, which lie in close proximity within the boundaries of the medieval forest of Bere, and for which documentary evidence survives of an historical association with Robert, Earl of Arundel.
The monument includes a ringwork and bailey of probable 11th or 12th century date, situated on level ground within Motleys Copse, near Rowlands Castle. The ringwork includes a low circular platform, 35m in diameter and raised up to 1m high, enclosed by a substantial defensive bank and outer ditch. It is internally subdivided by two low earthen banks with flint foundations which radiate from a central well surviving as a shallow circular pit, 6m wide. The larger bailey abuts the ringwork to the west. It sits level with the surrounding woodland and forms a semicircular area, approximately 80m by 60m in diameter. It is enclosed by a bank and outer ditch which close to within 20m of the ringwork to the south, but these have been cut by a later quarry pit where they approach the ringwork on the northern side. The defences are relatively uniform around the circumference of the monument, but are most impressive on the south side of the ringwork where the bank and ditch are each 9m wide and the bank is raised up to 1.5m above the interior and 3.5m above the ditch. The gap between the ringwork and bailey ramparts at this point may have provided an original entrance. Additional entrances are provided by three causeways which span the bailey defences at regular intervals on the western and northern sides, and by a similar causeway between the bailey and the ringwork, although these are probably trackway features associated with the later use of the site. Two intersecting crescent shaped banks and ditches, of similar proportions to the outer ramparts, subdivide the bailey into two inner loops and a large outer area, significantly strengthening the ringwork's defences on its western approach. The main, outer area of the bailey is further subdivided by a linear ditch, 0.3m deep and 6m wide, which is included in the scheduling where it projects from the southern ditch terminal for 87m to the south east. It links the monument with a series of intersecting enclosure banks and/or trackways situated 80m further to the south east, some of which were the subject of archaeological excavations in 1984 which indicated they may be contemporary features. A further series of banks which skirt the ringwork to the north and east are associated with the later enclosure of the site for woodland and are therefore not included in the scheduling, except where they project onto the monument. The construction and use of the monument has not been accurately dated, although medieval pottery has been recovered from within the ringwork. Its location within the boundaries of the medieval royal hunting forest of Bere and the Hundred of Finchdean, owned by Robert, Earl of Arundel, suggests it may form one of a number of strongholds he defended against Henry I before being banished from the kingdom in 1101. A smaller motte situated approximately 200m to the south west may represent an earlier defence or a contemporary siege castle and is the subject of a separate scheduling. (Scheduling Report)

The smaller motte is Holt Pond Motte.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

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