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Breach Wood Mound, Wanstrow

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Dungehill Wood

In the civil parish of Wanstrow.
In the historic county of Somerset.
Modern Authority of Somerset.
1974 county of Somerset.
Medieval County of Somerset.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST704412
Latitude 51.16933° Longitude -2.42498°

Breach Wood Mound, Wanstrow has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


Earthworks forming a mound - may be a possible motte (Aerial photographs - CAMUC OAP 166.708420 June 1978 (SCC Planning Department)).
The earthwork remains of the possible Medieval castle site mentioned above in were mapped during a recent survey of aerial photographs, centred on ST 7041 4128. The possible motte is centred on ST 7038 4194 and consists of three, curvilinear, fragmented banks.
Two linear banks with adjacent ditches are located either side of the possible motte aligned north-south and measuring up to 144m in length. A angled D-shaped enclosure is located immediately to the north of the end of these banks, centred on ST 7043 4132. The linear banks may be contemporaneous with the motte and might form the remains of a bailey. The angled D-shaped enclosure may be further evidence of this or may be a later agricultural stock enclosure (Personal communication - Truscoe, K (Krysia). Somerset County Council Heritage Service (21/11/2005).). (Somerset HER)

Nothing on 1891 map. 1km SW of parish church, near a spring, but no roads or paths to this location suggesting if medieval abandon very early. Woodland to south called Dungehill Wood (?Donjon Hill). A deserted village is recorded in PastScape at ST707419. Highest point in the parish of Wanstrow and overlooks the village. There were two manors in Wanstrow recorded in Domesday and this may represent the focus of one of these. Both manors had ecclesiastical overlords but the west manor may have had a knightly sub-tenant (possibly of the Wandestrie/Wanstrow family). The Wanstrows appear to have been supporters of the Empress Matilda and were rewarded by her with grants of land. It may be then that the motte dates from the mid C12 and represents both the increased status of the family at this time and a need for greater security during the troubles of the Anarchy. This manor seems to have been split up at a relatively early date which may explain the loss of this site as a manorial centre.
Prior accepts this as a castle site stating it was situated close to a Roman road and its sitting 'can almost certainly be attributed to the continuing use of Roman roads in the Norman period'. In fact it is 1.5km from that Roman Road (something probably true of many places in England and certainly not 'along the side of the camp' as suggested in the heading of Prior's thesis) which is not well preserved at that point and may well have taken the more northerly route (via Trudoxhill and the A361) it now follows even in Norman times making it even further from the site. Gatehouse accepts this may have been a small motte and bailey representing a small manor held by military service. Even given early abandonment and a long period of agricultural activity the lack of remains may suggest the earthworks were never particularly strong.
The siting of this castle can be attributed to the contingency of a Norman knight gaining the sub-tenancy of a pre-Conquest Saxon manor and a subsequent family history where the family felt a desire or need to express their status with some modest fortifications.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER            
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
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Photos >
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:28

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