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Nant y bar, Dorstone

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Mynyddbrydd Tump 2

In the civil parish of Dorstone.
In the historic county of Herefordshire.
Modern Authority of Herefordshire.
1974 county of Hereford and Worcester.
Medieval County of Herefordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO27844102
Latitude 52.06284° Longitude -3.05398°

Nant y bar, Dorstone has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a Masonry Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


earthwork and buried remains of a motte castle, situated on the eastern tip of an east-west ridge, near the head of the Golden Valley. The ridge slopes steeply down to tributaries of Pont-y-Weston Brook to north and south. The remains include an earthen motte mound of circular form, c.32m in diameter at the base, whose steep sides rise c.3m to a top of roughly 22m diameter. An earthen bank runs around the rim of this otherwise flat top, barely visible in the eastern quarter but standing to a height of c.0.6m and c.2m wide to the west. This bank will have supported a timber palisade around the motte to enhance its defences. The motte is surrounded by a ditch which is now mostly infilled, but is clearly visible as an almost continuous circle of thicker and darker grass up to 4m wide. Around the north and west it remains as a depression c.0.3m deep, and is narrower around the south and east where the ground slopes steeply away. Where the ground slopes less steeply to the north, north east, and westwards along the ridge, an earthen bank has been cast up outside the ditch, to improve the defences of these more vulnerable areas. To the north west and east this counterscarp bank is visible as a slight rise some 3m wide, but to the north it survives up to 0.5m high, probably due to its incorporation into a later field boundary bank. To the ENE the ditch is interrupted by a causeway which continues as a hollow up the side of the mound. A small amount of masonry is visible in this hollow, at the foot of the mound to the right of it, and in the counterscarp bank near its junction with the causeway. This causeway probably represents the original access to the motte, the masonry perhaps being the remains of stairs or footings for a bridge. The motte castle 230m north west of Nant-y-bar is part of a concentration of medieval defensive monuments in the area. It commands impressive views in all directions, and is most closely associated with the separately scheduled motte and bailey at Mynydd Brith, only 500m to the NNE. (Scheduling Report)

Phillips makes the point that the motte is larger in volume than the volume of the ditches and may, therefore, be an enlargement of a pre-existing earthwork, such as a barrow. He states a small bailey may have existed to the north-west but, if so, it has been destroyed by ploughing. He considers this site either to be an early 'watch-tower' motte or a later 'fortified site' (a farmstead?). The modern farmhouse in 150m SE and, Gatehouse suspects the motte is its precursor. It may have been constructed as a 'watch tower' but it may be questioned if the funding and organisation existed to maintain such a function over any length of time.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:52

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