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Therfield Village Defences

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

OS Map Grid Reference: TL333371
Latitude 52.01884° Longitude -0.05659°

Therfield Village Defences has been described as a probable Urban Defence.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Therfield: Motte and bailey with traces of fortified village enclosure west of parish church (RCHM Herts, p. 218; Renn, p. 321) (Bond 2001)

Mount, with Attached Baileys, forming a Fortified Village, N.W. of the church, standing about 520 ft. above O.D.
Detailed Description—The Mount, which shows no traces of masonry, stands 5 ft. above the ditch, and is 57 ft. in diameter at the base. It is defended on the N. by a dry ditch, from which branches another ditch, also dry, embracing the Bailey on the W.; the bailey, including the ditch, covers one acre. There are slight traces of an inner rampart on the S. and W. sides, and the S.E. arm of the bailey is formed by a long pond. Other Enclosures: there are the remains of a larger enclosure on the S., and traces of a rampart and ditch, which run N.W. from the N.W. arm of the bailey. Entrances: the position of the entrance is not certain, but there is a track through the N.W. corner of the bailey.
Dimensions—Greatest length through mount and bailey N.E. to S.W., 270 ft. Greatest width, N.W. to S.E., 180 ft. (RCHME 1910)

Another bank and ditch run northward from the salient for 100 yards before turning eastward for 200 yards (on air photographes). A ditch was found under the north wall of the church in 1878, and these features suggest an early village fortification. (Renn 1971)

Earthworks, including ditches, platforms and quarry pits, almost certainly the remains of medieval settlement at Therfield.
The strange shape of the earthworks does not suggest house platforms; they may have more to do with the motte and bailey. See 22 for settlement of Therfield, 4129 for possible manorial site, 4194 for ancient fishpond and 9682 for ditches.
The supposed circuit of the village defences is fragmentary (a section to the north of the castle and some further earthworks in a field between Pedlars Lane, The Causeway and Mill Lane possible being the northern boundary (see Scheduling map)). If the ditch ran north of the C15 church this seemingly would place the church outside the supposed circuit, although the earlier church could have been slightly further north and within the possible circuit. However the reported location of that ditch does not easily marry with the surviving earthworks. There are some suggestions that the area may have suffered from drainage problems (a large number of ponds, some local 'ditch' place-names, a road called The Causeway) so some of the earthworks may be slightly larger than usual medieval drainage ditches. The actual evidence for defensive earthworks surrounding the village is slight.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:01

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