Locking Castle, Carberry Hill

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameLocking Castle, Carberry Hill
Alternative NamesLocking Head Farm
Historic CountrySomerset
Modern AuthorityNorth Somerset
1974 AuthorityAvon
Civil ParishLocking

Earthworks of a motte and bailey on Carberry Hill. Excavations in 1902-3 located a small drystone chamber with a flight of steps in one corner. Finds recovered included pottery, coin and part of a sword. The motte and bailey was surveyed by Avon County Council in 1981. To the east of the castle was a very deep holloway, which predated the castle and formed the east boundary of the bailey. The west side was bounded by a 1.5m high bank with a slight external ditch which probably continued round the motte. The motte is situated to the southern end of the bailey and was only 2m high with a terrace half way, the upper part was presumably the remains of the building excavated in 1902-3. There is a local tradition that there was a windmill on the motte. (PastScape)

The motte and bailey castle south of Locking Head Farm survives particularly well as an outstanding example of its class. Partial excavation of the site in 1902-3 has demonstrated that archaeological and environmental information will survive relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.

The monument includes a motte and bailey castle and associated earthworks situated south of Locking Head Farm on the top of a small knoll known as Carberry Hill. The motte, which is at the south end of the site, has an artificial mound c.20m in diameter and c.3m high surrounded by a ditch c.3m wide from which material was quarried during its construction. The ditch is now infilled but is visible as a slight depression and as an area of enhanced crop growth, caused by increased moisture in the area of the buried ditch. Partial excavations on the mound in 1902-3 revealed the presence of 12th century pottery and a coin of Edward IV-V. The presence of a small dry stone walled structure was also identified on the top of the mound. Adjacent to the motte on its northern side is the bailey

This is defined on the western side of the monument by a bank c.60m long and c.1.5m high and an external ditch which runs parallel with the bank and joins with the ditch of the motte. The remainder of the bailey is defined by the natural steep slopes of the hilltop which provides a good defensive position over the surrounding levels. The interior of the bailey contains traces of earthworks which are considered to relate to the occupation of the site during the medieval period. Outside and to the west of the bailey are further earthworks including a possible pillow mound c.10m long, c.2m wide and c.0.4m high. (Scheduling Report)

Locking is not mentioned in Domesday Book. Some scholars have suggested it was part of Woodspring (Kewstoke) manor and thus belonged to William of Falaise. Others believe it to have formed part of Hurron, where one manor was held directly of the king by the bishop of Coutances and the other by the bishop as subtenant of Glastonbury abbey. The tow manors were evdently united, reverted to the Crown and were given by Henry I to Geoffrey de Dun. In 1214 Locking was given by Geoffrey Gibwyne, who held it of the Courtenay family, to the canons of Woodspring priory.

The site, on a low hill commanding, with Castle Batch in Worle, a possible entrance to the Levels, is a small motte-and-bailey built against an earlier deep hollow way. All military significance would have disappeared after the acquisition by the canons. (Dunning 1995)

Gatehouse Comments

About a kilometre north of the parish church but clearly in the medieval period this was was an area of marshland with limited space for arable fields and building so possible pushed out to the edge of that space for economic reasons (Compare with Bob Liddiard discussions on the location of castles in Norfolk, in Medieval East Anglia (Boydell Press 2005), where dense population made arable land particularly precious).

- 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 ReferenceST363608
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

No photos available. If you can provide pictures please contact Castlefacts

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • 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. 78
  • Dunning, Robert, 1995, Somerset Castles (Somerset Books) p. 40
  • Aston, M. and Iles, R. (eds), 1989, The Archaeology of Avon p. 123-4
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 443
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 230
  • Burrow, Edward J., 1924, Ancient Earthworks and Camps of Somerset (Cheltenham and London) p. 120
  • Bothamley, 1911, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Somerset Vol. 2 p. 514-15
  • Knight, Frances A., 1902, The Sea-Board of Mendip (London: J.M. Dent and co.) p. 383 online copy


  • 1982, Bristol and Avon Archaeology Bristol and Avon Archaeological Society Vol. 1 p. 53-54
  • 1904, 'Opening of a Barrow at Lockinghead Farm, near Worlebury' Proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society Vol. 49 p. 186-7 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. 121 Download via EThOS