Bampton; The Mote

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are earthwork remains

NameBampton; The Mote
Alternative NamesBaumton; Bachentun; Baketun; Baentona
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishBampton

To the N of the town a sizeable but incomplete motte and bailey, the bailey, roughly rectangular, surviving only on the S and E. The motte ditch (located in excavation) is now filled in. The castle belonged to Robert of Bampton, who held it against King Stephen in 1136. (Pevsner 1989)

A castle was erected on this site in 1336. The mount, with an escarpment of 40ft., is in the south-west of a rectangular base-court 500ft by 400 ft. The combination of natural and artificial defences were of great strength. (PastScape–ref. VCH)

The remains of a large motte and bailey castle at Bampton. The motte or mound is circa 50 foot (15.24 metres) high and dominates the town of Bampton. The bailey lay to the east overlooking the valley towards Somerset. The outer bank of the bailey forms the hedge bank of the field. In 1336 R Coggin obtained a licence to crenellate his house at Bampton, which may refer to this site although the motte and bailey are more likely to have been built by William of Douai possibly in 1086. Robert of Bampton was besieged in 1136 by Stephen (Scheduling Report).

Bampton Castle motte and bailey. Situated at the end of the present Castle Street. The mount has an escarpment of 12 meters and is slightly hollowed at the top with a breastwork 0.6 meters in height. A rectangular bailey lies to the northeast, 152 meters by 122 meters which utilises the natural slope of the hill, although a strong artificial ditch and counterscarp bank have been created. The entrance was at the south, where there are indications of an inner work. A castle was erected here by R Coggin in 1336 (VCH).

Flat topped motte with remains of rectangular bailey. Bailey defences survive to the east. To the northeast there is also an outer bank. The line of further (now invisible) earthworks may be preserved by field boundaries shown on early Ordnance Survey maps

A small inturned bank close to the southeast of the motte may represent an original entrance. The small mound inside the scarp at the northeast could mark the site of a defensive tower on the bailey perimeter. There are reports of mortared masonry being found during ploughing of 'the bailey field' (the field east of the motte), which Ordnanace Survey maps mark 'Site of Keep' (Griffith, F. M., 1983, Untitled Source (Personal Comment)).

Surveyed by Royal Commission on Historic Monuments in May 1992. Remains comprise substantial motte and bailey created in late 11th - mid 12th century. Motte is generally well preserved, while only the south and southeast sides of the bailey survive intact. The position of the north side, previously unrecorded, was identified, leading to rejection of earlier suggestions of a more extensive bailey. The survey found that the motte ditch, previously thought to be infilled, survives as an earthwork on the west; the probable remains of a substantial building on the motte summit; the outer northern enclosure does not exist, and probably never did; the original bailey was a relatively small rectangular area attached to the southeast side of the motte (Wilson-North, W. R., 1991). (Devon and Dartmoor HER)

Gatehouse Comments

Licence to crenellate granted to Richard Cogan in 1336. A baronial castle was first mentioned here in 1135, but the estates date back to the Conquest and the castle may date back to then. Presumably Cogan built a house in the bailey (although a nearby house called Castle Grove also makes a claim to be the site of his house), replacing earlier buildings although the bailey is not well preserved. It is not at all certain that this was the castle of Robert de Bampton besieged by King Stephan which may actually have been Castle Cary.

- 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 ReferenceSS959225
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  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 695
  • Higham, Robert A., 1999, 'Castles, Fortified Houses and Fortified Towns in the Middle Ages' in Kain, R. and Ravenhill, W., Historical Atlas of South-West England (University of Exeter Press) p. 136-43
  • Salter, Mike, 1999, The Castles of Devon and Cornwall (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 48
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 64 (slight)
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus and Cherry, Bridget, 1989, Buildings of England: Devon (Harmondsworth) p. 147
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 115
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 183
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 100
  • Finberg, H.P.R., 1964, 'Uffculme' in Lucerna (London) p. 204-21
  • Sanders, I.J., 1960, English Baronies p. 5
  • Wall, C., 1906, in Page, Wm (ed), 'Ancient Earthworks' VCH Devon Vol. 1 p. 615-6
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 21-2 online copy


  • Higham, R.A., 2009, 'Devon Castle Studies. A Personal Reflection. Devon Archaeological Society Presidential Lecture 2009' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 67 p. 12
  • Wilson-North, R., 1991, 'Bampton Castle: an earthwork survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 49
  • Higham, R. and Hamlin, A., 1990, 'Bampton Castle, Devon: history and Archaeology' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 48
  • Higham, R.A., 1988, 'Devon Castles: an annotated list' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 46 p. 142-9
  • Higham, R.A., 1982, 'Early Castles in Devon' Château Gaillard Vol. 9-10 p. 101-116
  • King, D.J.Cathcart, 1972, 'The Field Archaeology of mottes; Eine kurze übersicht' Château Gaillard Vol. 5 p. 101-112
  • (Hamlin), 1970, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 14 p. 176 online copy
  • Anon, 1969, 'Preliminary report on excavations at Bampton Castle' Devon Archaeological Society Newsletter no. 29 p. 4
  • Gray, H.StG., 1947, Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society Vol. 93 p. 14-16
  • Rose-Troup, F., 1934-1935, 'Batthentona' Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries Vol. 18 p. 372
  • Adams, M., 1919, 'Proceedings at the 58th Annual Meeting' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 51 p. 34

Guide Books

  • 1994, Bampton Castle, Devon Archaeological Society Field Guide No. 10 (Exeter: Devon Archaeological Society)

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1912, Calendar of Charter Rolls Edward III 1327-1341 Vol. 4. (HMSO) p. 353 online copy
  • Sewell, R.C. (ed), 1846, Gesta Stephani, Regis Anglorum et Ducis Normannorum p. 18-19 online copy (where called Robert of Bath) (The newer edition and translation by Potter, K.R. (ed), 1976 (2edn), Gesta Stephani (Oxford University Press) should be consulted for serious study. See also Speight, S., 2000, 'Castle Warfare in the Gesta Stephani' , Château Gaillard Vol. 19 [see online transcription >])


  • Context One Archaeological Services, 2006, Castle Grove, Bampton: an archaeological field evaluation (Context One Archaeological Services Report 3)
  • Stratascan, 2002, A gradiometer survey at the recreation ground, Bampton (Stratascan Report) online copy
  • Higham, R.A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) p. 83-84,244,253,258,298, 315,317,321 Downloadable from EThOS