The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Canterbury; The Dane John

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Dungeon Hill, Dungan Hill; Dangon Hill

In the civil parish of Canterbury.
In the historic county of Kent.
Modern Authority of Kent.
1974 county of Kent.
Medieval County of Kent.

OS Map Grid Reference: TR14695726
Latitude 51.27493° Longitude 1.07791°

Canterbury; The Dane John has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Roman barrow cemetery with possible Bronze Age origins. Only one survives as an earthwork, this was enlarged for use as a Medieval motte and bailey and a windmill mound. It was also used as a Civil War gun emplacement and incorporated into a public garden after 1790. (PastScape)

Excavations took place in 1981 prior to redevelopment on the site of the old City Council offices at 15A Dane John. The site was situated immediately adjacent to the west side of Dane Gardens, about 100 metres north of the Dane John mound. Extensive later disturbance had removed all but a few Roman deposits. The next major archaeological phase consisted of part of a large ditch, 17 metres wide, 3 metres deep and was probably part of the outer bailey ditch for the early Norman motte and bailey castle - the present Dane John mound probably being the site of the motte. In the late 12th or 13th century, the bailey defences were probably razed and the ditch partially backfilled. A number of features, including pits, wells and small ditches, were then dug in the area. The features were later truncated and disturbed. The partly backfilled bailey ditch was re-cut at this time with a channel at the sump. This new ditch, which may have been an open running sewer, might be the predecessor of the 'Black Ditch' or 'Black Dyke' which documentary sources describe as being an open sewer extant in this vicinity until the eighteenth century. The re-cut bailey ditch was progressively backfilled and virtually levelled by the sixteenth century. The area then became a garden throughout the 17th century and towards the end of this period part of the slope of the area was terraced and a trackway constructed. In the 18th century levelling up and terracing occurred. In 1790 the 'Dane John land' of which the area covered by the site was part, was leased by the City Alderman, James Simmons, who undertook to level the site and landscape the entire gardens. This landscaping was still in progress in the early 19th century. From around this time a large amount of dumping occurred on site, raising the level by about one metre. These deposits were cut by the foundations of Shakespeare's Terrace (Nos 12-15 Dane John) constructed at some time in the 1840's and by a boundary wall and brick-lined well. Sealing all of these features was a thick layer of 20th century dump deposits, over which lay the shallow foundations of the recent City Council offices. (PastScape ref. Frere et al, 1987)

Predecessor of Canterbury. Guy writes this mound is a burial mound and was never used as a motte. Most authors agree if it was used it life as a castle was short lived. To quote Armitage "The name Dane John is not so much a corruption (of Dungeon) as a deliberate perversion introduced by the antiquary Somner about 1640, under the idea that the Danes threw up the hill".
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact