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Castle Batch, Kewstoke

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Sand Point; Sandy Point; Woodspring; Swallow Cliff Mound

In the civil parish of Kewstoke.
In the historic county of Somerset.
Modern Authority of North Somerset.
1974 county of Avon.
Medieval County of Somerset.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST32636603
Latitude 51.38932° Longitude -2.97000°

Castle Batch, Kewstoke has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Despite partial disturbance during World War Two, the motte and bailey castle 650m NNW of Sandpoint Farm survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The site is unusual in being positioned on a coastal promontory.
The monument includes a motte and bailey castle situated on the crest of a coastal promontory overlooking Sand Bay 650m NNW of Sandpoint Farm. The motte, known variously as Castle Mound and Castle Batch, is an artificial mound c.30m in diameter and c.2m high. It is situated within the south-west area of the monument and is surrounded by a rock-cut ditch c.8m wide from which material was quarried during its construction. The ditch is visible on the eastern side of the motte as an earthwork c.1.5m deep; elsewhere it survives as a buried feature. Adjacent to the motte is the bailey. This feature is defined by the ditch surrounding the motte in the west and the steep natural slopes of the hill to the south and north. To the east it is defined by the extent of visible earthworks. Numerous building platforms, some surviving to a height of c.0.5m, are visible in this area of the monument. The eastern area of the bailey has been partly disturbed by military activity, possibly dating from the Second World War. (Scheduling Report)

An earthen, originally conical mound occupying a strategic location with extensive views over the whole of the Severn Estuary. On the landward side to the East the remains of a bank and ditch are evident at the foot of the mound while to the North and South the slope of the mound runs into the natural slope of the escarpment to form a natural defense. To the East of the ditch the ground is very uneven probably resulting from quarrying activities and possibly the source of some of the construction material for the mound.
The centre of the mound was hollowed out and most of the slope to the South-West removed in order to facilitate the construction of a building during World War II. As a result the mound only retains its full height on the Eastern side where it is approximately 5m above adjoining ground level. The building has since been demolished but is evident on Aerial Photograph 106 G/UK 1661 taken in 1946.
Some demolition rubble remains in and around the mound and brick footings, flush to ground level and presumably relating to the wartime building, are evident.
A footpath giving access to the Western extremity of the headland originally crossed the mound but was diverted around the base in order to reduce erosion to the monument. Two trackways across the mound still continue to be used by visitors, however, and extensive erosion has resulted on the Eastern slope.
The mound is substantially clear of invasive vegetation growth with only localised and low level weed growth evident. The monument is grassed and adequately grazed by the rabbit population.
The mound has been traditionally regarded as a castle motte and hence considered to be medieval in origin. The Schedule Entry Copy suggests that the associated bailey is defined by a ditch to the West and the steep natural slopes of the hill to the North and South. To the East the limit is said to be defined by the extent of visible earthworks which are described as numerous building platforms but this area is also described as having been disturbed by military activity, possibly dating from the Second World War.
The siting of a motte and bailey castle in this location however could not be regarded as being typical and there must therefore be doubt as to the accuracy of the interpretation. Both the mound and the bailey would appear to be inadequate to support the construction of a traditional post conquest fortification whilst the function of a castle in such an isolated location is unclear.
A fortification/ watchtower at Woodspring apparently dating from the Tudor period is shown on the 16th Century map and whilst the exact location of the watchtower is unclear it is possible that the mound may relate to this construction. Alternatively the Tudor watchtower may have utilised a then extant existing Medieval structure (Green E; 1888; The preparations of Somerset against the Spanish Armada AD 1558-1588). (National Trust HER)

A castle mound named Castle Batch by Rutter. It has a ditch on the east and hut sites, (Bailey?), on the north (O.G.S.Crawford, 18.10.35). The name Castle Batch has been published on the authority of Rutter who, however, makes no mention of the name in his 'Delineations...' There is another Castle Batch at ST 362637; the name is common in the area (Oral information).
A castle mound, strongly sited on a promontory, with the ground to the north and south falling steeply to the sea. The west side of the mound has been severely mutilated by war-time buildings. There is a ditch to the east across the landward approach and, east of this the ground is very uneven, probably as a result of rock quarrying for the mound; a bailey, or hut sites, here seems unlikely. There are two approaches to the mound: a terraced way from the south-west (seaward), and a track, apparently more recent, from the south-east (Field Investigators Comments–F1 GHP 08-MAR-61).
No physical change. The name Castle Batch is an evident mis-identification by Crawford. There is no local tradition of a name to this site prior to the O.S. publication (Field Investigators Comments–F2 JP 11-FEB-65).
Considered by King to be "just a narrow curving bank across the sharp crest of Middle Hope, a very remarkable geological formation. Behind it there is a vaguely level area, with a slight 'bank', (only about 3ft. high, and probably natural) on the far side" (Oral information).
Castle mound, scheduled (Scheduled Monument Notification–DOE SAM Rec Form, 27-Feb 1976) A Medieval motte, visible as an earthwork mound and ditch, was mapped from aerial photographs taken in 1946. Located on the coastal promontory of Sand Point at Middle Hope, on the ridgeline at the east end of Swallow Cliff; the (scheduled) motte known as Castle Batch is centred at ST 3260 6603. The motte is a subcircular earthwork mound about 28 to 30 metres in diameter. At the base of the motte's eastern (landward) edge, a curvilinear ditch is aligned roughly north-south, measuring about 32 metres long and about 1 metre wide (ST 3264 6604 to ST 3263 6602). The western half of the earthwork has been partially destroyed by the construction of a Second World War building and possibly a buried shelter (HOB UID 1461011/ST 36 NW 29).
About 21 metres to the southwest, a linear earthbank bank (HOB UID 1461028/ST 36 NW 30) which extends 72 metres down the south slope of the promontory to the cliff line may be associated with the motte defences. The motte earthwork mound was still visible on aerial photographs taken in 1985 (Aerial photographs). The earthwork mound and ditch were still upstanding monuments on an API field visit to the site on 10th November 2007 (Stephen Crowther/13-NOV-2007/English Heritage: Gloucestershire County Council: Severn Estuary RCZA, NMP). (PastScape)

There is a possibility that Castle Batch was originally the entrance to an Iron Age (IA) promontory fort, which was possibly altered to create a medieval motte (Moore 2015)

Despite the scheduling Gatehouse, like King, has considerable problems with this as the site of a medieval castle. It is isolated, rather windswept and possibly short of a reasonable water supply. There is a priory nearby founded in 1210 when all the manor of Woodspring was granted to it. Woodspring was, according to Rutter, a 'considerable manor' but there seems no obvious manorial centre other than the Priory site itself. The National Trust SMR references Green's text on the Spanish Armada for this site which may suggest an alternative origin. Rutter's reference to the site is slight "Swallow Cliff terminates in Sandy Point, on the summit of which is a large mound of earth and clones, railed Castle Batch, and which is supposed to have been the site of a small castle or battery." and also suggests a late medieval or early modern origin for the site. He does not identify this as the manorial centre. Gatehouse suspects that this is natural and field boundaries, although the suggestion this was a relic of an Iron Age promontory fort is worth consideration, but since it it scheduled as a motte it is recorded as a possible site.
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This record last updated 15/08/2017 15:56:49

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