Remote Sensing in Corfe’s West Bailey

Thomas Bond of Tynham first dug in the West Bailey. Writing in 1883 he said “Some diggings which, by kind permission of the owner, W.R.Bankes Esq. I have recently made within the castle, have brought to light some curious facts, which afford much food for conjecture.” Next to investigate the area were scholars of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments in 1949-52.

One of the 11th century windows in the West Bailey later blocked by the construction of 13th century curtain wall in King John's reign.

One of the 11th century windows in the West Bailey later blocked by the construction of 13th century curtain wall in King John’s reign.

This year we are reopening one of their trenches and seeing whether the wall that was found over 60 years ago continues north to join the curtain wall. If foundations exist, the footings may be able to act as a foundation for a revetment wall which will even up the slope and limit further erosion

The last few lines of the resistivity survey at the west end of the West Bailey

The last few lines of the resistivity survey at the west end of the West Bailey

The plan of the West Bailey. The area of the geophysical survey today. The site of tomorrow's excavation is at the top of the long black wall pointing to the top of the page. Did it once continue right across the West Bailey.

The plan of the West Bailey. The area of the geophysical survey today. The site of tomorrow’s excavation is at the top of the long black wall pointing to the top of the page. Did it once continue right across the West Bailey.


Our first task was to try to detect the buried walls using geophysics. Both resistivity and magnetometry were used. It’s not a big area.. about 60m long and narrowing from 20m at the east end to less than 10m in the west.

A hot sunny day as we pushed our wheelbarrow loaded with gear up through the potters and weavers of the craftsmen village in the Outer Bailey ..up through the South West Gatehouse and into the West Bailey.

A busy day with lots of interested people from Europe and USA mixed with the Brits asking us about the survey and the Castle’s history. Quite a few student groups led by their guides. We wove backwards and forwards with our machines making the survey but we completed it in good time. We will mark out the trenches tomorrow.

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