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Wymondley Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Great Wymondley

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

OS Map Grid Reference: TL21512847
Latitude 51.94147° Longitude -0.23370°

Wymondley Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Great Wymondley Castle is a well-preserved example of a motte and bailey castle. It is unusual in its close association with a manorial enclosure, within which occupation evidence, integral to a full understanding of the monument, will survive. The monument will contain archaeological remains relating to the internal layout of the site and the economy of its inhabitants as well as environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed.
The monument includes Great Wymondley Castle, a motte and bailey castle, situated on level ground on the floodplain of the River Purwell. It comprises a large rectangular enclosure in the south-west corner of which there is a small moated motte and bailey. The motte measures c.2.5m in height by 28m in diameter at its base. The bailey, located south of the motte, is orientated NE to SW and measures about 25m by 28m. Surrounding the motte and bailey is a moat, now dry, which is c.2m in depth and c.10m in maximum width. The outer enclosure, which is considered to be manorial in origin, is marked by a bank and ditch extending from the moated motte and bailey. It is rectangular in shape and encloses an area c.175m north-south by c.100m east-west. The small cross ditch dividing the large enclosure is a modern field boundary. The site was partially excavated in 1882 when both Roman and medieval pottery were discovered. (Scheduling Report)

Two conjoining squarish enclosures of ditch and bank lie immediately east of the apsidal C12 church, with a small earthwork in the SW corner. 'Old pots and things' were found the tiny motte (?) was dug about 1882, but the main strength lies in the bailey (?) which has a disproportionately strong bank. (Renn 1971)

"Enclosure, of the mount and bailey type, immediately E of the churchyard, covers an area of 5 acres, the mount (1/4 acre in internal area) being in the SW corner" (RCHME).
The earthworks are of two dates and belong to two classes. They comprise of a small moated mound and bailey inserted into the SW corner of a larger roughly, rectangular earthwork. Although the mount has been much lowered, the bailey banks still remain. The small cross ditch dividing the large enclosure seems to be a modern field division (VCH 1908).
The earthworks comprise a motte and bailey with, attached on the east, enclosures which are probably manorial in origin (F1 BHS 26-NOV-70).
The earthworks of the castle are as described by previous authorities. The motte is covered by unmanaged scrubby vegetation, the field to the E. is under pasture. There are low unsurveyable (at 1:2500) earthworks in this field OS 5545 which may represent further subdivisions of the field and a low backscarp to the bailey ditch. The relationship between the castle and the two subrectangular enclosures is unclear, however their sharp form may indicate they are later than the castle (F2 WDC 27-JUN-90 RCHME Field investigation). (PastScape)

Salter, presumably working from the RCHME of 1910, suggests the rectangular enclosure is a Roman Settlement but the PastScape record appears to suggest the enclosure may post date the castle (possibly later medieval manorial works). There was a Roman settlement here but the earthworks may have nothing to do with it.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:01

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