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Bishopstrow Farm

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Motte Field

In the civil parish of Bishopstrow.
In the historic county of Wiltshire.
Modern Authority of Wiltshire.
1974 county of Wiltshire.
Medieval County of Wiltshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST901441
Latitude 51.19603° Longitude -2.14305°

Bishopstrow Farm has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Double ringwork and central motte seen on aerial photographs. Spur holloway marks entrance to north. Possible temporary anarchy-period castle. Trial trenched by R.W Smith, 1981 (Wilts SMR).
The small scale excavation in 1981 in the NW corner of the motte ditch produced 12th century pottery. However, the large amount of residual IA pottery suggests that the motte may be a short-term fortification sited within the extant earthworks of an IA domestic complex (Creighton). (PastScape)

Although partially damaged by cultivation, limited excavation has demonstrated the considerable archaeological potential of the Bishopstrow monument. Sites of this type are particularly rare on Salisbury Plain.
The monument includes an earthwork castle comprising a motte, a double ringwork and associated features immediately east of Bishopstrow Farm. A hollow-way extending to the north of the modern farm is identified as an entrance. The monument survives as earthworks although spread by cultivation. Small-scale excavation in 1981 of a pit cluster to the south of the motte and in the north-western section of the defences revealed pottery sherds of probable C12th date. It has been suggested that the castle was a short-lived fortification erected during the Anarchy. (Scheduling Report)

This is an area of many barrows, some of which have been misidentified as mottes. There is a possibility that this site, which does not seem to be a manorial centre, may be a barrow in an Iron Age enclosure with some incidental C12 finds. If occupied as a military base in the C12 then that occupation is likely to have been by a small band of loosely aligned armed men reusing an existing pre-historic earthwork as a secure base for their exploitation of local people and travellers on the Southampton-Bristol road.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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