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Lyneham Clack Mount

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

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

OS Map Grid Reference: ST998793
Latitude 51.51287° Longitude -2.00518°

Lyneham Clack Mount has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


King writes small motte enclosed in angular ward. PastScape record reads 'A polygonal island surrounded by a ditch, c250m NE of Bradenstoke Priory, with two mounds, the smaller of which is a WWII pillbox; the second mound measures 19m in diameter at the base and is 1.5m high. This is almost certainly, in its present form, a post-medieval prospect mount.' Wilts SMR records as 'Probable Medieval motte and bailey castle mound and some fragments of Medieval pottery.' Creighton rejects writing the mound is not ditched and place-name evidence suggests it possible started as a barrow. The trapezoidal enclosure has been described as a fishpond.

Bradenstoke priory survives comparatively well in close proximity to the additional earthwork complex associated with Clack Mount. Clack Mount is believed to represent the site of a motte and bailey castle, a medieval fortification introduced by the Normans and which usually comprised a mound of earth or stone surmounted by a tower of stone or timber designed to command a strategic position. An embanked enclosure or bailey containing subsidiary buildings appears to have been linked to the motte. The close association between the medieval priory earthworks and those of the motte clearly demonstrate the complex relationship that existed between such elements of the medieval landscape. As such they are particularly important in any study of settlement, administration and ecclesiastical organisation during the medieval period. Apart from buried archaeological material, survival of environmental evidence, relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed, is possible from the various sealed old land surfaces and from the silts of the fishponds.
The monument comprises an extensive complex of medieval earthworks including the remains of Bradenstoke Augustinian Priory, various earthworks including fishponds, together with the remains of an associated motte and bailey castle known as Clack Mount. Bradenstoke Priory, dedicated to St Mary and also known as Bradenstoke Abbey and Clack, was founded as a house of Augustinian canons in 1142 and remained in Augustinian hands until its dissolution in 1539. The remains of the priory, comprising a substantial part of the 14th century hall and undercroft of the guest house or Kings Lodgings, formerly the west range of the priory, were subsequently used as a farmhouse. Nearby was a tithe barn of 15th century date and a holy well. Investigation of the priory site in the 1920s resulted in the recovery of the plan of the monastic buildings and the 12th century church lying south of the cloisters. Finds from the site have included numerous medieval burials, some with stone coffins and several tiled pavements. Much of the fabric of the surviving monastic buildings was removed in 1929 by the then owner Randolph Hearst; he had most of the surviving west range and the tithe barn demolished, removing the fabric for re-use at St Donat's in Glamorgan and his estate in America. Today the surviving buildings are limited to the undercroft of the guest hall with a 14th century garderobe tower at its north-west corner; both are in a ruinous condition. The site of the holy well is today the position of a natural spring with no trace of any masonry. To the north-east of the priory, linking it to the site of Clack Mount, are a series of linear earthworks and fishponds. These include two fishponds, both orientated north-west to south-east, the most southerly having dimensions of 70m by 20m and that to the north-east 50m by 20m. A system of ditches and banks links these fishponds to the ditch of the enclosure surrounding Clack Mount, forming an extensive water management system. Between the two fishponds are a series of linear ditches 7m wide and 0.9m deep; these form a roughly square enclosure with sides of 70m. A low mound 7m in diameter and 0.4m high is situated in the south-west corner of this enclosure. A low bank 6m wide and 0.3m high can be traced from the south-east corner of Clack Mount enclosure running south-east for 70m before turning south-west for 140m and then turning north-west, it appears to pre-date the present field boundary and could represent an outer bailey associated with the motte and bailey of Clack Mount. Clack Mount motte and bailey lies immediately to the north of the ponds on a prominence with commanding views to the north and west. The mound itself is steep sided and circular in shape with a diameter of 20m; it stands to a height of 1.8m. It has been identified as Scufa's barrow, an Anglo Saxon boundary mark mentioned in AD 850. As such it would predate the other earthworks, but this association remains unproven. Evidence of collapsed masonry, incorporated into the fabric of the mound, suggests that it may have supported a stone tower. Enclosing the area of the motte is a trapezoidal enclosure with sides averaging 70m long defined by a ditch 10m wide and 1.5m deep with an outer bank 8m wide and 0.6m high. A second bank and ditch lay outside and parallel to the north-east side of this enclosure. This has been largely levelled by old plough erosion, though the bank remains recognisable. The trapezoidal enclosure is linked to and clearly contemporary with, the previously mentioned earthworks to the south-west. (Scheduling Report)

Clearly a doubtful site rejected by a number of authorities but accepted by a number of others. Location in a high status landscape, with nearby abbey and (other) fishponds. It is possible there was an earlier castle here deliberately demilitarised by being the bases of the foundation grant of the priory.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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