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Nuthampstead; The Warren

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

OS Map Grid Reference: TL42013426
Latitude 51.98865° Longitude 0.06657°

Nuthampstead; The Warren has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


An unfinished homestead moat called The Warren enclosing a square area of c 1/4 acre and covered with abandoned spoil-heaps, the upcast from the moat. The silted moat varied from 10 to 25ft wide, and round its outer edge ran a much spread bank 20 - 30ft wide and c 2ft high. The counterscarp bank measured about 5ft high and approximately 30ft wide. Excavation in 1945 revealed four hearths associated with late 13th century sherds, animal bones and oyster shells. Roman sherds and a piece of BA ware were found in the abandoned upcast and other finds were a few links of iron chain and a carved ivory chain and a carved ivory pendant of Virgin and Child dated by Kendrick to c 1200. The Warren was evidently unfinished and abandoned in the latter part of the 13th century (Williams).
No trace of moat. Obliterated by airfield construction in 1939-45 (F1 JRL 16-FEB-75). (PastScape)

Moated site, which originally comprised a square moat 3-7.5m wide, with an external bank 0.7m high and an internal bank 1.5m high. Several large spoil heaps were situated on the moat platform, and the OS suggest the moat was unfinished. The upstanding remains were destroyed by the construction of the airfield in 1939-45 (OS Records). Remains of a denuded bank 0.25m high are visible, but damage from airfield construction and deep ploughing suggests that potential is low (Stewart Bryant (HCC). Information. Site visit 27.1.88).
Excavation in 1945 produced 4 hearths, 13th century pottery and a carved ivory pendant of the Virgin and Child dated to c.1200 (Williams). The moat is shown clearly on the 1892 OS map, and then had the plan of a backwards E. It may be 'The Old Moat' shown on a 1741 estate map, and the 19th century name, The Warren, 'suggests that rabbits were kept on the island within the moat, or nearby' (Rowe). This was part of the medieval deer park, Scales Park, and the moat may have been the site of an early park lodge (Rowe). (Hertfordshire HER)

Suggested as possible castle by Renn and King without much reservation. Overgrown. Isolated from settlement, although clearance of medieval sites for WWII airfield makes it look even more isolated than it probably was. This may have started as a park lodge (or park keeper dwelling) which were sometime defended later adapted as a warren. However it may have been a rabbit warren from the start with the surrounding earthworks designed to contain rabbits as much as to exclude poachers. The evidence for it being any form of fortified building seems weak. Despite the authority of King and Renn this site is considered unlikely by Gatehouse. The fact that Williams's article appears in the same issue of the Antiquries' Journal as W. Douglas Simpson article on 'Bastard Feudalism' may explain the reason this 'homestead moat' was picked up Renn and King.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:31

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