The World  Drogo de Monte-acuto's Coat of Arms
Castle Montacute, 1068-1093/1104.


Although not a historic person, the Castle Montacute deserves to be noted for its historic role in Britain. Castle Montacute played a key role in the consolidation of Norman England:

"Resistance to the Norman Conquest persisted strongly in south Somerset and north Dorset, and was fanned into flame by the castle at Montacute built in c. 1068 by Robert count of Mortain - half-brother of the Conqueror - for this was a spot with particularly hallowed associations for the English. It was here on top of a conical hill, the Mons Acutus, that earlier in the eleventh century a fragment of the Holy Cross was said to have been discovered, ... The estate at Montacute belonged to the wealthy Saxon landowner, Tofig, ... the Holy Rood ... became an object of popular veneration and pilgrimage. `Holy Cross' was the battle-cry of Harold's successful army at Stamfordbridge and of the defeated English at Hastings. ... The building of a Norman castle on the very spot where the legendary relic had been found was seen as a final insult to a defeated race, and produced a fierce local reaction. The castle was besieged by the English during 1069, ... a considerable force had to be assembled to relieve it by the Norman bishop Geoffrey of Coutances whose large grants of land ... were directly threatened ... The ferocity with which the attack on Montacute was suppressed and the devastation in the surrounding area which followed the English defeat may explain why so many manors in south Somerset are recorded in the Domesday Survey as having decreased in value." (Wessex).


Castle Montacute consisted of a conical hill scarped to form a large oval motte (artificial hill) with three baileys (circular castle walls) on the slope. The hill had been called Biscopeston by the Saxons.

Montacute's military role was abandoned between 1093-1104, and it became a Clunic Priory.

The Domesday Book describes Montacute in 1086 thus:

The Count holds `BISHOPSTONE' himself, in lordship. His castle, called Montacute, is there. This manor paid tax for 9 hides before 1066; it was (part) of Athelney Abbey and for it the Count gave that church the manor called (Purse) Caundle. In this manor (of) `Bishopstone', land for 7 ploughs, of which 2 1/2 hides are in lordship; 2 ploughs there; 4 slaves;

4 villagers and 3 smallholders with 2 ploughs & 1 hide.

A mill which pays 50d; meadow, 15 acres. 1 cob; 100 sheep.

Of these 9 hides Alfred the Butler holds 1 1/2 hides from the Count, Drogo 1 hide, Bretel 1 hide, Duncan 1 hide. 5 ploughs there, with 1 slave; 19 smallholders.

Value of this manor to the Count £6; to the men-at-arms £3 3s.

 


Sources:
Wessex from AD 1000.
Castellarium Anglicanum.
[DMKC].
The Domesday Book.


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