Edithmead Motte, Burnham

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte)

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameEdithmead Motte, Burnham
Alternative NamesBurneham
Historic CountrySomerset
Modern AuthoritySomerset
1974 AuthoritySomerset
Civil ParishBurham Without

A previously unpublished moated enclosure at Edithmead was excavated by the Burnham-on-Sea Archaeological and Natural History Society. An occupation level with C14 pottery was found beneath the turf. Much of the central mound had been quarried away (SANH, 1962).

The "excavation" was merely a rectangular pit 8ft by 6ft and 4ft deep dug into the central area. The excavators reached no conclusion as to the purpose of the site Is an irregular moated enclosure with the material from the ditch used to raise the level of the interior. Looks more like a mutilated motte than a homestead moat (OS record card)

Medieval pottery has been found in the locality (see PRN 10994). Scheduled as AM 454 as a moated site but not yet visited by HBMC Field Monument Warden (Dennison, SMR report, 1985)

This work is now considered to probably be a denuded motte and bailey (Moated site Research Group)

The earthworks are in good condition with good grass cover and the previous cattle damage on the N side on the moat slope is now grassed over. Water lying in moat end on western boundary has lead to limited cattle trampling (Site visit report - Graham, A., 1999, English Heritage Field Monument Warden). (Somerset HER)

If the earthwork is a denuded motte-and-bailey rather than a moated site, then it may perhaps have been the work of Walter of Douai or his son Robert of Bampton. Walter was lord of Burnham in 1086 and Robert remained in possession from his father's death about 1107 until his own rebellion in 1136 when he was succeeded by his daughter Juliana. It may be of interest that the owners from the late twelfth century were the descendants of Harold son of Ralph who in the time of William Rufus had owned the great castle of Ewyas Harold in Herefordshire. (Dunning 1995)

Gatehouse Comments

Whilst it is certainly possibly this started as a small platform type motte within a round ditch the site has not been fully investigated and the identification is not certain. There does not seem to be a bailey and the reference to one may be an error. It may be atypical moated site (although Gatehouse is of the opinion a number of moated sites are modified platform mottes).

- 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 ReferenceST328493
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  • Prior, Stuart, 2006, A Few Well-Positioned Castles: The Norman Art of War (Tempus) p. 68-109
  • Dunning, Robert, 1995, Somerset Castles (Somerset Books) p. 40
  • Saunders, Ian, 1960, English Baronies, a Study of their Origin and Descent 1086-1327 (Oxford: Clarendon Press)


  • 1977, Moated Sites Research Group report Vol. 4 p. 11, 20
  • 1962, Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Vol. 106 p. 17-8
  • 1959, Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Vol. 104 p. 16-7

Primary Sources

  • 1907, Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Dean & Chapter of Wells (Historical Manuscripts Commission) Vol. 1 p. 47, 229, 454 online transcription


  • 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. 140 Download via EThOS