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Stanborough Ringwork and Motte

In the civil parish of Halwell And Moreleigh.
In the historic county of Devonshire.
Modern Authority of Devon.
1974 county of Devon.
Medieval County of Devon.

OS Map Grid Reference: SX77435182
Latitude 50.35350° Longitude -3.72427°

Stanborough Ringwork and Motte has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Truncated mound located 137m north-east of Stanborough Camp, and immediately east of the earthwork remains of an early medieval ringwork. The mound has been identified as a motte, now surviving to a height of approximately 0.3m, and with traces of a ditch on its north and south sides. The ditch measures between 2.5m and 5m wide and is a maximum of 0.3m deep to the west. The western side of the mound and ditch have been cut away by a large quarry, measuring about 20m across. It has been excavated to a depth of approximately 4m in the centre, and a spoil heap around 17m wide and 0.5m high, has been deposited at its western edge. (PastScape)

Ring-work 150 yards north-east of Stanborough Camp. Small ring work with ditch and slight bank. Exterior diameter 67.1 metres and interiordiameter of 38.1 metres. Entrance probably at the north-east but a hollow has cut into it a little. Not defensively sited. Condition ploughed down but still quite distinct. Stands just north of an Early Iron Age hill fort which gives its name to Stanborough Hundred. There is a possibility that this is a Saxon adjunct to a re-used camp (Ministry of Works, 1953, Halwell, Ring-work 150 yards north-east of Stanborough Camp (Schedule Document)).
A circular platform 44.0 metres diameter and 0.4 metres above the surrounding field level. Traces of very low bank at edge of the platform averaging 0.3 metres high. The whole is surrounded by a ditch 0.4 metres deep and 5.0 metres wide. This earthwork slopes downwards to the north-west with the natural fall of the ground. Totally unlike any earthwork previously seen by the investigator (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). (Devon and Dartmoor HER)

Despite some damage by ploughing, the ringwork and motte 230m north east of Stanborough Camp are well-preserved with stratified remains likely to survive in the upstanding earthworks and buried ditches. These will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to this strategic location and the landscape in which the monument functioned.
The monument includes a small ringwork with a slight internal bank and outer ditch, 137m north east of Stanborough Camp. Earthworks to the ENE include a reduced motte, cut by a post-medieval quarry. The ringwork consists of a platform, between 37m and 39m in diameter, raised about 0.7m from the surface of the surrounding field. The interior slopes gently down to the north west. Remains of an encircling bank, between 2.5m and 5m wide by 0.3m high, survive around the edge of the platform. No interior features are visible, but there is a surrounding ditch, about 15m wide and up to 0.4m deep. There is no obvious entrance. Immediately outside the ringwork to its east is a truncated mound, of about 26m diameter. This has been identified as a motte and survives to about 0.3m high and has the remains of an outer ditch on its north and south sides. This varies from 2m to 5m in width and is a maximum of 0.3m deep on the west side. The west side of the mound and its ditch have been cut away by a large quarry, about 20m across. This has been excavated to a depth of about 4m in the centre and a low heap of spoil deposited at its western extremity, about 17m wide by about 0.5m high. A post-medieval hedgebank lies to the north of the quarry and spoil heap, neither of which appear on the other side. A former medieval ridgeway passes to the east of the site, although this feature is not included in the scheduling. (Scheduling Report)

This site seems to have been missed by medieval castellologists. Have they dismissed it as outwork to the Iron Age Stanborough Camp (Sometimes called Stanborough Castle), as the Lysons seem to do, and dated it as Iron Age? There are/were a number of barrows in and around the camp. However, medieval settlements patterns in Devon are sometimes dispersed, non nucleated and apparently isolated small castles are not infrequent. The local hundred takes its name from this 'castle' and it seems to have been used as a meeting place (moot) for the Anglo-Saxon so some Norman occupation, asserting the dominion of the new lord might be postulated. Clearly needs more intense study.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:52

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