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Huntingdon Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Huntingdon.
In the historic county of Huntingdonshire.
Modern Authority of Cambridgeshire.
1974 county of Cambridgeshire.
Medieval County of Huntingdonshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL240714
Latitude 52.32699° Longitude -0.18122°

Huntingdon Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a probable Masonry Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The Castle mount and bailey consisting of an oval motte with a half moon shaped inner bailey on the W. The earth works were much cut up by the construction of the railway (RCHME). "On the outside of the rampart, at the SE corner, close to where the railway cuts through, there is ..... the Castle Well .... whether it is really ancient .... it perhaps open to question" (VCH). Motte and bailey as described by RCHME, but with principal bailey on the E and remains of another to the W. within the main bailey against the NE embankment are traces of possibly two buildings, probably modern. The well has a modern brick and concrete top and is sealed. If it is ancient, being outside the bailey wall it was obviously not the principal source of water (First OS Archaeology Field Investigator 26/02/1970). Fieldwork has shown that the ramp and causeway which blocks the ditch of the motte and cuts through the top edge of the motte itself, cannot be contemporary with the early Medieval use of the castle. The motte also has a slight hollow in the top and this indicates that it was used as a gun battery in the 17th century. A section of the bailey rampart that has been raised to a height of 4.0m and widened to 25.0m and was probably similarly used in Civil War. Cannons set on these mounds would have covered the main river crossing of the Ouse (Taylor, 1974). Part of the southern rampart was examined in 1975. The rampart above the level of the bailey proved to be post-Medieval and presumably Cromwellian. It covered about 1.0m of loam containing much occupation debris of the Roman and Medieval periods. Below this were cut shallow graves containing skeletons lying east - west surrounded by coffin nails. There is no nearby church with which these might be associated but is is possible that a chapel stood in the castle bailey. (DoE excavations 1975) Built by William the Conqueror in 1068 to suppress the county and control the crossing of the Ouse, it passed to his niece, the Countess Judith, and through her daughter, Matilda, to the Scottish Kings after Matilda's marriage to King David I. When William the Lion joined 'the young king' in his rebellion against Henry II in 1173, it was besieged and captured by Henry II, who then ordered its demolition. (PastScape)

The castle consists of a large defensive mound or motte and a roughly rectangular bailey with rounded corners. The bailey retains evidence of stone buildings with grassed over wall footings surviving up to 0.3m in height. A chapel within the castle was granted to the Huntingdon Priory in 1327. A windmill was erected atop of the motte before 1807 and in 1875 the windmill was demolished. (Cambs HER)

Has a long standing tradition of earlier pre-Conquest origin. Edward the Elder may well have built some sort of defensive earthwork in Huntingdon c. 917 and this may be the bases of the castle which William will have strengthened and adapted into a Norman style motte and bailey castle. Attacked and destroyed 1173 and probably not used after this date as Cambridge Castle will have acted as the county administrative centre. Foundations of a masonry gatehouse found and Clark suggests a shell keep but seemingly no suggestion of a masonry curtain wall.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
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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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