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Locking Castle, Carberry Hill

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Locking Head Farm

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

OS Map Grid Reference: ST36386087
Latitude 51.34334° Longitude -2.91461°

Locking Castle, Carberry Hill has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Earthworks of a motte and bailey on Carberry Hill. Excavations in 1902-3 located a small drystone chamber with a flight of steps in one corner. Finds recovered included pottery, coin and part of a sword. The motte and bailey was surveyed by Avon County Council in 1981. To the east of the castle was a very deep holloway, which predated the castle and formed the east boundary of the bailey. The west side was bounded by a 1.5m high bank with a slight external ditch which probably continued round the motte. The motte is situated to the southern end of the bailey and was only 2m high with a terrace half way, the upper part was presumably the remains of the building excavated in 1902-3. There is a local tradition that there was a windmill on the motte. (PastScape)

The motte and bailey castle south of Locking Head Farm survives particularly well as an outstanding example of its class. Partial excavation of the site in 1902-3 has demonstrated that archaeological and environmental information will survive relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.
The monument includes a motte and bailey castle and associated earthworks situated south of Locking Head Farm on the top of a small knoll known as Carberry Hill. The motte, which is at the south end of the site, has an artificial mound c.20m in diameter and c.3m high surrounded by a ditch c.3m wide from which material was quarried during its construction. The ditch is now infilled but is visible as a slight depression and as an area of enhanced crop growth, caused by increased moisture in the area of the buried ditch. Partial excavations on the mound in 1902-3 revealed the presence of 12th century pottery and a coin of Edward IV-V. The presence of a small dry stone walled structure was also identified on the top of the mound. Adjacent to the motte on its northern side is the bailey. This is defined on the western side of the monument by a bank c.60m long and c.1.5m high and an external ditch which runs parallel with the bank and joins with the ditch of the motte. The remainder of the bailey is defined by the natural steep slopes of the hilltop which provides a good defensive position over the surrounding levels. The interior of the bailey contains traces of earthworks which are considered to relate to the occupation of the site during the medieval period. Outside and to the west of the bailey are further earthworks including a possible pillow mound c.10m long, c.2m wide and c.0.4m high. (Scheduling Report)

Locking is not mentioned in Domesday Book. Some scholars have suggested it was part of Woodspring (Kewstoke) manor and thus belonged to William of Falaise. Others believe it to have formed part of Hurron, where one manor was held directly of the king by the bishop of Coutances and the other by the bishop as subtenant of Glastonbury abbey. The tow manors were evdently united, reverted to the Crown and were given by Henry I to Geoffrey de Dun. In 1214 Locking was given by Geoffrey Gibwyne, who held it of the Courtenay family, to the canons of Woodspring priory.
The site, on a low hill commanding, with Castle Batch in Worle, a possible entrance to the Levels, is a small motte-and-bailey built against an earlier deep hollow way. All military significance would have disappeared after the acquisition by the canons. (Dunning 1995)

About a kilometre north of the parish church but clearly in the medieval period this was was an area of marshland with limited space for arable fields and building so possible pushed out to the edge of that space for economic reasons (Compare with Bob Liddiard discussions on the location of castles in Norfolk, in Medieval East Anglia (Boydell Press 2005), where dense population made arable land particularly precious).
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:32

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