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Rayleigh Mount

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Rayleigh Castle

In the civil parish of Rayleigh.
In the historic county of Essex.
Modern Authority of Essex.
1974 county of Essex.

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ80499095
Latitude 51.58843° Longitude 0.60376°

Rayleigh Mount has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a probable Masonry Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Motte and bailey situated in a commanding position on a spur overlooking the Crouch valley. Apparently built end of C11 by Suene (Sweyn), son of Robert Fitz-Wimarc. No masonry survives above ground. Plan consists of a strong keep-mound with a bailey to the E, and a possible outer bailey on the same side. Both the mound and the inner bailey are surrounded by a deep dry ditch, with a strong outer bank with traces of an external ditch on the N and W. A scarp drooping into gardens to the E and traces of ditches at the SE corner may represent the outer bailey. The natural contours of the ground contribute to the defences of the castle. The approach to the mound is by a causeway on the S side, and the entrance to the inner bailey appears to have been through the rampart on the N. The mound is 50ft high above the ditch on the NW side, and the inner bailey is 260ft by 150ft. Documentary evidence indicates that the castle site was occupied from c.1070 to the mid C14, with intensive occupation during the first 100 years, followed by intermittent development, and another period of intensive occupation late C13 and possibly early C14. No record has been found for a deliberate destruction of the castle. (Unlocking Essex's Past)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Osbourne, Mike, 2013, Defending Essex (Stroud: The History Press) p. 21, 22, 24
      Neville, David, 2003, Lost Castles of Essex (Ian Henry) p. 60-2
      Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of East Anglia (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 39
      Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 76
      Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford)
      Loyn, H., 1989, 'Rayleigh in Essex, its implications for the Norman settlement' in Harper-Bill, C., Holdsworth, C.J. and Nelson, J.L. (eds), Studies in medieval history presented to R. Allen Brown (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 146
      Helliwell, L. and Macleod, D.G., 1981, Documentary Evidence and Report on Excavations 1959-1961 and Report on Excavations 1969-1970 (Rayleigh Mount Local Committee)
      Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 283
      Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 290-1
      Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 804 (slight)
      RCHME, 1923, An inventory of the historical monuments in Essex Vol. 4 (south-east) p. 123-4
      Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 191-2 online copy
      Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
      Gould, Chalkley, 1903, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Doubleday, Arthur and Page, Wm (eds), VCH Essex Vol. 1 p. 299-300 online copy
      Strutt, Joseph, 1774, Horda Angel-cynnan (London) Vol. 1 plate xxx
  • Periodical Articles
    • Guy, Neil, et al, 2011-12, 'CSG Annual Conference April 2011' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 25 p. 98-99
      Godbold, S., 1997, 'The outer bailey at Rayleigh Castle: observation at 23 Bellingham Lane, Rayleigh, 1991' Essex Archaeology and History Vol. 28 p. 290-2
      Harfield, C.G., 1991, 'A Hand-list of Castles Recorded in the Domesday Book' English Historical Review Vol. 106 p. 371-392 view online copy (subscription required)
      1998, Essex Archaeology and History Vol. 29
      1997, Essex Archaeology and History Vol. 28 p. 290-2
      Milton, B. and Walker, H., 1987, 'Excavations at Bellingham Lane, Rayleigh, Essex' Essex Archaeology and History Vol. 18 p. 39-44
      1986, Essex Archaeology and History Vol. 17 p. 162
      Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T., 1986, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1985' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 30 p. 134-5 download copy
      1984-5, Essex Archaeology and History Vol. 16 p. 132
      Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T.B., 1984, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1983' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 28 p. 217 download copy
      Rigold, S., 1975, 'Structural aspects of medieval timber bridges' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 19 p. 48-91 download copy
      (Helliwell and McLeod), 1971, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 15 p. 145-6 download copy
      (Helliwell and McLeod), 1970, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 14 p. 176 download copy
      McLeod, 1970, Essex Journal p. 112-15
      1969, 'A find of Stephen coins at Rayleigh Mount (Essex).' British Numismatic Journal Vol. 38 p. 186-8
      1963 Spring, National Trust News Letter p. 38-9
      Brown, R, Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
      Brown, R. Allen, 1955, 'Royal Castle-building in England 1154-1216' English Historical Review Vol. 70 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)) p. 19-64
      Francis, E.B., 1913, 'Rayleigh Castle: new facts in its history and recent explorations on its site' Essex Archaeological Society Transactions Vol. 12 p. 147-185
      Armitage, E., 1904 April, 'The Early Norman Castles of England' English Historical Review Vol. 19 p. 209-245, 417-455 esp. 419-20 -
      Hope, W.H.St J., 1903, 'English Fortresses and Castles of the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 60 p. 86 online copy
      Round, 1895, Essex Archaeological Society Transactions Vol. 5 (new series) p. 41-3
      Laver, 1893, Essex Archaeological Society Transactions Vol. 4 (new series) p. 172-8 (called a British work)
  • Guidebooks
    • Helliwell, L. and MacLeod, D., 1965, Rayleigh Castle (Rayleigh Mount Local Committee) (revised edn 1981)
      Voss, W.A., 1951, Rayleigh Mount (National Trust)
  • Primary (Medieval documents or transcriptions of such documents - This section is far from complete and the secondary sources should be consulted for full references.)
    • 1086, Domesday Book (II, 43b)
      Pipe Rolls 1172-3, 1183-6 (see Pipe Roll Society for published references)
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
    • Medlycott, M., 1999, Rayleigh Historic Town Assessment Report (Essex County Council) Download copy
      Plan of c. 1789 in Kerrich's collection (British Museum Add. MS. 6735)
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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