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Sandon; The Mount

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

OS Map Grid Reference: TL32863456
Latitude 51.99360° Longitude -0.06633°

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

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Circular mound c.18m in diam., 2.1m high, surrounded by dry moat c.3m wide. Excavation revealed the cross-beam foundations of a sunk post-mill at c.1.8m depth (of late 14th-early 15th century type). The range of finds was 13th to 15th century, but the pottery was predominantly 13th century. Since the cross-beams appeared to cut into an existing mound it may be a re-used motte, though it is also possible that the mill re-used a Bronze Age barrow (TEHAS 1928-9).
A mill is recorded in 1222 (Renn), and Westell (1934) notes a 'Mill Field' nearby, but nothing is shown on Seller's Map of 1676 (Moore 1985). The site is now covered by scrub and trees (Wild, Sarah (HCC). 1994. Survey. 19.1.94). (Hertfordshire HER)

Slightly oval ringwork of bank and ditch, excavated in 1933, Saxon-Norman sherds were found at the old ground level, C13 pottery in the make-up of the interior level, into which oak crosstree (16 ft long and of one foot scantling) had been sunk off centre, the ends recessed for quarterbars. A mill is mentioned in 1222. (Renn).

This circular mound (in fairly good condition but thickly planted), is 60ft in diameter and 7ft high, and has a flattened top 40ft in diameter containing a depression 1ft deep. It is surrounded by a 10ft wide moat (for the most part dry), with a 10ft portion filled in on the N side (TEHAS 1928-9).
The mound was excavated in 1933 by Westell, and the cross-beams of a sunk Post-mill were found at a depth of 6ft below the original surface. The mill was dated (Rex Wailes) to the late 14th or early 15th centuries, thus making it a very early example of a wind-mill. Other finds included 13th, 14th and 15th century pottery (G C Dunning) the vast majority of which was 13th century, small bronze objects, and over 200 flat-headed nails. Three small sherds found on the old ground surface beneath the mound confuse the issue. Dunning classified them as St Neots ware and so associable with the other finds, but other experts preferred earlier periods; IA, RB or Saxon.
It was considered that the mound pre-dates the mill because of the surrounding ditch, the even distribution of the 13th century pottery and the fact that the original digging for the cross beams appeared to cut through already disturbed earth of which the mound was formed. Thus the mound was probably a 13th century "small defensive earthwork" (ie motte), although the possibility that it may have had a BA tumulus origin (the burial having been removed by the mill makers) cannot be ruled out.
The Mount (name verified) is situated in a prominent position on a gentle hill summit and is as described by Anderson. The ditch is dry and defensive in nature but it is uncertain if it was ever purposely waterfilled. The excavation of the mill cross-beams is evident by remaining depressions, and it is probable that the ditch on the E side of the mound has been re-cut or excavated at some time. The defensive nature of the topography and surrounding ditch suggests this mound was only utilised as a mill stead, and was previously a form of motte; and it could originally have been a BA barrow (F1 JRL 16-FEB-73). (PastScape)

It is suggested the windmil re-used an earlier mound, either a barrow or motte. There is nothing to suggest there was a bailey.
A little outside the village but on a hill top. However Sandon Bury next to church is clearly the manorial centre and is actually also on a hill top and also has a name which is suggestive of having some fortification such as a Thegn's burhgeat. Building a small motte whilst such a pre-existing site in more convenient position existed would be, to understate the issue, untypical. The finds of 'Saxo-Norman' pottery on the old ground level is noteworthy. This pottery needs to be re-examined by a modern specialist as, in some cases, such pottery is now interpreted as later. If so it is possible the crosstree timbers were actually inserted into an earlier mill mound as windmill do start to appear in this part of the county by the late C12.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:01

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