Drawing Montacute Castle

St Michael’s Hill near Montacute in South Somerset is covered in trees. They hide the earthworks of a Norman motte and bailey castle. In recent years the National Trust has revealed the castle by removing many of the trees.

The details of the castle are hard to see but LiDAR shows the archaeology of the hill.

The site needed an illustration for a new interpretation board but various phases of activity have altered the earthworks of the hill since the the castle was abandoned in the 12th century. At that time, the land was gifted to Montacute Priory

A chapel was built on the hill and much later, in the 18th century, a prospect tower was built on top, to be seen from the Tudor Montacute House. A new access path was cut into the hill slope obscuring some of the earlier earthworks.

What did the Norman castle look like? One source is the Bayeux Tapestry.

and then we looked at examples of other interprepretive drawings. We tried to fit them to Montacute’s earthworks.

Julia sketched out a view of the castle based on the LiDAR.

The slope up from the Outer Bailey was difficult to fit buildings onto without the terraces. The scale of the buildings are too large but the details needed to be seen.

The final version gives an impression of what the the ‘mons acutus’, the Norman castle on the steep hill may have looked like but with the limited evidence.. it is a best fit. Something on which to build the imagination.

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