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Little Hadham, Cailes Castle

In the civil parish of Little Hadham.
In the historic county of Hertfordshire.
Modern Authority of Hertfordshire.
1974 county of Hertfordshire.
Medieval County of Hertfordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL42052146
Latitude 51.87363° Longitude 0.06202°

Little Hadham, Cailes Castle has been described as a Uncertain although is doubtful that it was such.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


Site near Westfield Farm mentioned in Chancery Proceedings (1575) (Renn)

Earthwork remains of Iron Age date at Caley Wood, once thought to be a hillfort, they are more likely to represent an enclosure. The site has been badly affected by gravel extraction. Roman pottery has also been recovered from the site, this originates from the type site for Hadham Ware, Bromley Hall Farm. (PastScape)

The site of 'Calies Castle', near Westfield Farm, is mentioned in Chancery Proceedings (1575; series II, bundle 19, No. 20). The Roll refers to Westfield Farm, and relates to a suit over 100 acres of land called Cayles; 'the messuage and farm called the Castell alias Cales' is also mentioned (Renn). Greening identified references to Castell Farm alias Cales Farm (1277), Calescroft (1398), and the castle and manor of Cailes (1478, will), as well as several other 15th century references. The castle of Cailes together with a grange called Caldwyns (from which it took its alternative name) descended with the manor of Gatesbury until 1599.
The field to the west of Westfield Farm is called 'Castle Field' on a plan of 1767, at NGR TL 4225 2150 (Cave-Penny, Helena (HCC) site report. 9.1.1986; J Crawley. 1767. Plan of West Field Farm).
The related earthwork, however, is apparently late Iron Age and not primarily defensive. There is no physical evidence of a medieval date for it, and the name may represent no more than medieval recognition of an ancient earthwork. (Hertfordshire HER no 797)
There are extensive earthworks in the N half of Caley Wood. Most of this is the result of gravel quarrying, but a large bank with slight outer ditch at the SE limit of the earthworks is probably of some antiquity (Cave-Penny, Helena (HCC) site report. 9.1.86). Its date is uncertain; finds of Roman pottery reputedly from the ditch and the form of the earthwork suggest an Iron Age date, but this is also likely to be the site of 'Calies Castle' mentioned in Chancery proceedings of 1575 (Renn). The site is known as 'Castle Field' in a plan of 1767.
Close inspection in 2009 confirmed a likely late Iron Age date (Landon). There is no indication that the site was re-used in the medieval period, despite the finding of the handle of a Herts Grey Ware jug nearby. It also bears more resemblance to a linear dyke, dominating the approach to Wickham Spring from the south-east, than to a hillfort enclosure. In addition, defence could not be its primary function, as its position at the top of a scarp slope leaves the easier approach from the rear undefended.(Hertfordshire HER no 122)

Whilst the C16 reference to a castell is most probably a reference to the pre-historic earthwork it might also be a reference to the manorial centre for dispersed hamlet of Westland Green/Wellpond Green using the term castle in the sense of an administrative centre.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:31

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