Bury Castle, Brompton Regis

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameBury Castle, Brompton Regis
Alternative Names
Historic CountrySomerset
Modern AuthoritySomerset
1974 AuthoritySomerset
Civil ParishBrompton Regis

Bury Castle comprises a series of earthworks forming an oval enclosure of Iron Age. At the southern end of the ramparts is a small motte believed to be of an early C12 date. Surveyed in June 1996 by RCHME who as a result of this also believe that the site is a resused late prehistoric defended enclosure. The prehistoric enclosure measures 85m N-S by 58m E-E and is enclosed by a bank up to 4m high. There is no sign of an entrance and this was probably blocked in the medieval period. The motte is 23m diameter, placed over the ramparts, and with a ditch 6m wide encircling it. The site is apparently undocumented but it is suggested that it was probably built by William de Say before 1144, the year of his death. (Somerset HER)

Bury Castle stands above the junctions of the R. Exe with its tributary the Haddeo, at the end of a high ridge running N & S. It is oval in shape, the apex pointing SW, and the base NE. Maximum length and breadth about 120 x 80 yds. The apex where the entrance is found, is occupied by a mount with an enclosing ditch and the camp might be classed with mount and base court forts, but the mount is very small as compared with the area of the enclosure. Hillfort Class B. (VCH 1911).

This is a motte & bailey (F1 GHP 17-AUG-65).

Bury Castle was surveyed in June 1996 at 1:1000 scale as part of RCHME's East Exmoor Project and at the request of the Exmoor National Park Authority. A detailed report (RCHME 1996) was produced.

The earthworks comprise an oval enclosure, presumably of Iron Age date. Built onto the south end of the prehistoric ramparts is a small motte, possibly built in the early 12th century (R Wilson-North & H Riley 12-JUN-1996 RCHME Field Investigation). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

The Iron Age hill fort does not appear to be the site of the manorial centre of the large manor of Brunetone, which was probably in Brompton Regis 4.75km (3 miles) to the north. Was this small motte added to the hill fort to make a castle built here to defend the county border as suggested by Stuart Prior (an idea that was not well greeted at the Castle Studies Group Conference in 2010 for the rather obvious reason that counties are administrative regions not sub-national states that need defending)? Was it built as a safe retreat? Was it a subsidiary manorial centre in a large and hilly manor? Was it a hunting lodge (The manor is on the southern edge of the Royal forest of Exmoor, but it might be argued the hunting would be better in the north of the manor)?

- 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 ReferenceSS938269
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  • Prior, Stuart, 2006, A Few Well-Positioned Castles: The Norman Art of War (Tempus) p. 68-109
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Wessex (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 69
  • Dunning, Robert, 1995, Somerset Castles (Somerset Books) p. 30-1
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 442
  • Burrow, Edward J., 1924, Ancient Earthworks and Camps of Somerset (Cheltenham and London) p. 72-3
  • Bothamley, 1911, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Somerset Vol. 2 p. 482-3


  • Gray, 1923, Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Vol. 69 p. xxi-xxii

Primary Sources

  • 1888, Ancient charters, royal and private, prior to A.D. 1200 (Pipe Roll Society 10) p. 108


  • Historic England, 2016, Heritage at Risk South West Register 2016 (London: Historic England) p. 184 (new entry) online copy
  • Prior, Stuart, 2004, "Winning Strategies" An Archaeological Study of Norman Castles in the Landscapes of Somerset, Monmouthshire and County Meath, 1066-1186 (PhD thesis; University of Bristol) Vol. 2 p. 130 Download via EThOS
  • RCHME, 1996, Bury Castle, Brompton Regis, Somerset. (Unpublished client report)