Langford Barton, Ugborough

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameLangford Barton, Ugborough
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishUgborough

Despite the reduction of parts of the ringwork and bailey castle, 400m south of Langford Barton, by ploughing and hedge removal, substantial remains are preserved and will contain important archaeological and environmental information relating to the castle's construction and use and the landscape in which it functioned. An ovoid earthwork enclosure surrounding the site may be of Anglo-Saxon date.

This monument includes a Norman ringwork castle with an unusually small bailey, occupying a low natural hillock in the bottom of a shallow valley. The large and roughly circular ringwork is 40m in diameter with a sub-rectangular depression in the centre. The ringwork varies in height from 2.3m on the east side to 3.5m on the west, falling 0.3m into the central depression on the east side and 2.2m on the west side. A break for an entrance occurs in the circuit on the north east side, while to the south west there may be another. The surrounding ditch is well-defined on the west and north sides and is between 6m and 7m wide and up to 1.2m deep. On the east and south sides the ground falls away, the ditch being represented by a terrace about 7m wide. A short section of the rock-cut outer edge of the ditch is visible on the north east side. To the north of the ringwork, traces of a small sub-rectangular bailey measure 45m across its visible earthworks, projecting an average of 20m from the ditch of the ringwork. The west rampart of the bailey is 10m wide and stands up to 1.3m high. Its north and east sides survive as a change in slope 2m to 3m wide and 0.6m high. A triangular spur 8m wide and 0.5m high, projects 6m from the southern edge of the ringwork's ditch. A 6m wide ditch to the west of the spur is 0.5m deep. The outer edge of this ditch continues as a scarp for 70m to the south west, curving around the hillside. This scarp is between 2m and 3m wide and is 0.5m high at the north east end, running out to 0.2m at its south west terminus

A further 10m to 12m down the valley side to the south east, terraces between 4m and 6m wide fall an average of 1m overall. These terraces are concentric with the ringwork, continuing around the slope to the north and eventually joining the north eastern side of the bailey. In the 19th century, a watermeadow leat was channelled along the lower terrace. A rampart and outer ditch curves around the ringwork and its bailey on the north west side of the site at a distance of about 8m from the bailey. The rampart is between 5m and 8m wide and survives to between 0.3m and 0.8m high. Its ditch is about 5m wide and 0.2m deep. This may be of Anglo-Saxon date, perhaps representing the site of the Domesday Manor of Langford. A broad causeway runs across the low lying ground to the west. This is a maximum of 8m wide and 0.8m high and survives to about 350m long. Only the eastern part is included in the scheduling. Traces of a former hedgebank run from the ringwork to the south west and survive as a slight earthwork 0.4m wide and 0.2m high. A ditch 3m wide and 0.2m deep runs along its north side. Alignments in the oak trees surviving on the ringwork show where this and other hedgebanks once ran. (Scheduling Report)

A medieval earthwork occupying an eastward projecting spur. The castle mound consists of a prominent ring-mound formed by the cutting of a ditch "L" through the natural spur. The ditch is some 5 metres wide across the top narrowing to 2 metres at the bottom and now about 1 metre deep. It is aligned roughly NNW-SSE and curves outwards on the west. Thus isolated the castle mound measures some 46 metres in diameter and is almost perfectly circular at its base apart from on the south east where it has been clipped by a leat. It has a maximum height of 3.5 metres above the bottom of the ditch on the south west, where it is best preserved. The top of the mound appears to have been divided into three distinct areas, but has also been mutilated by trees, tree hollows and possible quarrying. An oval mound is situated on the lip of the outer ditch on the north, is about 15 metres by 10 metres by 1 metre high. Its purpose is not clear but appears to be more than merely upcast material from the ditch on the west side. It may have been reinforcement to provide better protection on this the most vulnerable side of the site. There is a similar, but smaller, projecting ditched spur. It may be, however that these extensions are the west part of a bailey which lay on the lower side of the castle mound. Although Higham, 1979, refers to this site as an apparently mutilated motte, Kenyon, 1990, states that some sites do not fall easily into the category of either motte or ringwork, and no single term can be used to adequately describe them. This site displays characteristics of both motte and ringwork, and may therefore be one of these enigmatic sites. (PastScape – ref. Sainsbury IS RCHME Field Investigation 04-JAN-1991)

Gatehouse Comments

Isolated from settlement and close to parish boundary. However, there was much non-nucleated settlement in Devon and isolated small timber castle are not uncommon in Devon.

- 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 ReferenceSX699565
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • 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. 87 (slight)


  • Higham, R.A., 1988, 'Devon Castles: an annotated list' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 46 p. 142-9