East Chelborough Castle Hill

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte Ringwork), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are earthwork remains

NameEast Chelborough Castle Hill
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDorset
Modern AuthorityDorset
1974 AuthorityDorset
Civil ParishEast Chelborough

A medieval motte and bailey occupies the ridge top at Castle Hill on the west side of the road. The oval-shaped motte lies south west of the irregular-shaped bailey and rises about 30 feet above it. The motte, constructed by steepening the natural scarp of the summit of the hill, is about 70 yards by 90 yards and has been much damaged on the side by quarrying. The ground falls rapidly on the west side but less so on the east side. South of the scarp of the bailey is a large rhomboidal enclosure. There appears to be no historical evidence of the existence of a castle though, according to Hutchins, the foundations of a wall a clay-lined well or tank, swords and other iron relics were dug up on Castle Hill. It may be that this site was occupied when the site to the east became unsuitable. (RCHME; Hutchins).

From excavations and enquiries it is believed that a Norman castle crowned the hill. It was built of forest marble the ruins of which were used to build a nearby farmhouse (Cunnington).

ST 552055, listed as a ringwork, category Dd i.e. it is situated on a convenient hillock. It has a very large bailey (King and Alcock). (PastScape)

From small excavations made on the hill and from enquiries, he was led to believe that a Norman castle crowned the apex of the hill. It was built of forest marble from a quarry near, and he was informed that a former lord of the manor took the whole of the ruins to build a farmhouse near. (Cunnington 1896)

Gatehouse Comments

This is separated from a motte, Stake Farm by a farm. Speculation about the relationship between the two sites is unsupported by evidence but usually seems to suggest one site being replaced by the other. It may well be better to consider these two sites as one site with several phases of development and with the farm occupying the site of a bailey.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceST551053
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  • Creighton, O.H., 2002, Castles And Landscapes: Power, Community And Fortification In Medieval England (Continuum) p. 55
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Wessex (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 22
  • Pomeroy, Colin, 1998, Discover Dorset Castles and Forts (Dovecote Press) p. 25-6
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 69 (slight)
  • Wilton, P., 1995, Castles of Dorset (Wimborne)
  • Lewis, C., 1989, 'Paired mottes in East Chelborough, Dorset' in Bowden, M., Mackay, D. and Topping, P. (eds), From Cornwall to Caithness: some aspects of British field Archaeology. Papers presented to Norman V Quinnell (Oxford: British Archaeological Reports British Series 209) p. 159-71
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 126
  • RCHME, 1952, An inventory of historical monuments in the County of Dorset Vol. 1: west (HMSO) p. 90 no. 2 online transcription
  • Warne, 1872, Ancient Dorset (Bournemouth) p. 250-1
  • Hutchins, J., 1861-73 (3edn), History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset (Blandford) Vol. 2 p. 655


  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • Renn, D.F., 1959, 'Mottes: a classification' Antiquity Vol. 33 p. 106-12 (listed as siegework)
  • Cunnington, E., 1896, Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Vol. 17 p. xxxvii online copy