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Marshwood Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Marshwood.
In the historic county of Dorset.
Modern Authority of Dorset.
1974 county of Dorset.
Medieval County of Dorset.

OS Map Grid Reference: SY405977
Latitude 50.77574° Longitude -2.84583°

Marshwood Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


The earthworks consist of a roughly rectangular moated enclosure with outer enclosures on the South and parts of the East and West sides. The main enclosure has remains of an inner rampart at the NW angle and along most of the N sides. The moat has been filled up for the most part and is now only wet in two places; the rampart at its highest point, rises 10ft above the present bottom of the ditch. In the SW angle is a mound or motte, now much damaged and rising about 8ft above the level of the enclosure. On it stands the remains of a rectangular tower 40ft x 29 1/4ft of coursed rubble with internal quoins: the external face has been removed but the walls were from 6-10ft thick: there are remains of a former opening in the N wall which still stands to a height of 14ft. In the NW angle of the enclosure (SY 40389775) are traces of the walls, uncovered in 1839 of the former Chapel of St Mary which seems to have been a building some 24' wide: it became ruined in the C17 (RCHME).
Consideration of the morphology of the site and its topographical location leads to the conclusion that this is not a 'motte' and 'keep' but the remains of a (perhaps unfinished) 'water castle' of later medieval date (Mark Bowden/EH Field Investigation/ 05-July-2005). (PastScape)

Remains of Angle Tower, Marshwood Castle. Stone rubble walls with mortared core standing up to 10 feet in places. Plan: 3 1/2 sides of an angle tower, 40 feet x 29 feet, in the south-west angle of an originally moated enclosure. Facing-stones of walls do not survive. Walls originally from 6 ft to 10 ft thick. Head of the Honour and Barony of the Norman Mandeville family. Only head of a Barony in Dorset. Perhaps identifiable with Wootton Fitzpaine in Domesday Book. Mandevilles became Earls of Essex, 5 Stephen. Became extinct 2 Richard I. (Listed Building Report)

Edward III commissioned a repair of the castle and park in 1357 for his son Lionel of Antwerp. (CPR)

The history would suggest an early castle but the remains seem to suggest a later medieval castle. The Mandeville's built some strong earthwork castles in their heartlands of Essex, but this was a peripheral holding. It seems likely that there was an early castle here but the remains, after a long period of abandonment, were seriously altered and redeveloped as a fashionable 'water castle' (like the Paston's Caister Castle in Norfolk) presumably in the 1350/60's. If the earlier castle was so readily refashioned it does imply that it was not a particularly strong earthwork castle. It may have been a ringwork enclosure, the supposed 'motte' being later demolition rubble.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling   Listing   I. O. E.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:32

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