Castle sites in Dorset


The DCRG is primarily interested in those castles contructed immediately after the Norman Conquest in 1066 and the siege castles of the Angevin Wars in the 12th century. Our research encompasses the impact in the landscape of castle construction and the ripple effect the conquest posed in Dorset generally. Certain castles, such as Corfe and the motte and bailey at East Chelborough, are readily identified. However there is a group of earthworks such as The Leaze and Shaftesbury which are ambiguous and require further research to determine their origin. It is these in which the DCRG undertakes detailed research both documentary and geophisically.

Corfe Castle - the iconic castle of Dorset

Corfe Castle, located in a gap in the Purbeck Hills, is an outstanding example of the ruins of a royal castle. Beginning its life as a motte and bailey and developed over the centuries, fell victim to Cromwell's slighting during the Civil War. The Domesday Book records a castle at Wareham, however, there is confusion whether this was the castle at Corfe.

East Chelborough - a classic motte and bailey

East Chelborough is one of a pair of motte and baileys adjacent to each other northwest of Dorchester. This is one of many castles for which there is no documentary evidence, but may have been constructed as a siege castle for that of the West Chelborough site.

The Leaze at Wimborne - prehistoric or medieval?

The Leaze is an example of a monument that is either a tumulus or motte and bailey according to English Heritage. A contemporary historian records a castle at Wimborne, though there is confusion with Cranborne, but associated features suggest it is the latter. This lies close to the now deserted medieval extension to the town.

Shaftesbury - castle or medieval farmhouse?

This site is suggested to be the place of a castle, however, observable features do not support this proposal. A medieval farmhouse has also been mooted but a radar survey on the Saxon Burh discovered ridge and furrow systems but no evidence of a fortification.

Castles, presumed built, through house demolition recorded in the Domesday Book





Castles known to have been built



Motte and Bailey Castles



East Chelborough

Marshwood (?)

Portland (?)


West Chelborough


Siege Castles

The Rings, Corfe

Stoborough (possible)


Castles recorded in the 12th century

East Lulworth

The Leaze, Wimborne