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Barnwell earthwork

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Barnwell St Andrew

In the civil parish of Barnwell.
In the historic county of Northamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough.
Modern Authority of Northamptonshire.
1974 county of Northamptonshire.
Medieval County of Northamptonshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL04778535
Latitude 52.45624° Longitude -0.45970°

Barnwell earthwork has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


A curious earthwork near Barnwell Brook, apparently the site of an early castle. The entrenchments form two enclosures, and consist of two ditches and one rampart, the water of the brook being caused to wash round the inner ditch and perhaps also at one time the outer (VCH).
These earthworks are situated at the bottom of a valley through which runs a fast flowing stream; they are non-defensive in character and appear to be a constructed landscape feature complete with fish pond and duck decoy pond. Similar works are not uncommon in the Midland counties, they are, in the main, attributable to the 16c - 18th c., and this feature would doubtless be utilised during one of the earlier phases of the adjacent Barnwell Castle (F1 FDC 02-MAY-62).
RCHM suggests earthworks may have originated as a moat. Adjacent copse 'Empty Spinney' may be Le Hympehaye of 1285 meaning 'an enclosure made of saplings or shoots' (RCHME). (PastScape)

Identified by an early castle site by Downman in the 1906 VCH. Later authors have interpreted the earthworks as fish ponds etc. Nearby Barnwell Castle dates from the mid C13 but probably occupies the site of the earlier manor house. The manor was held for a knights fee by le Moyne (Moigne; Moygne) family, initially as tenants of Ramsey Abbey, in the C12 which is a tenurial history which would not exclude an early castle here.
Sometimes said to be a motte and bailey (including, unfortunately, in earlier, pre August 2013, versions of the Gatehouse website and database). The is no raised mound, the earthworks consisting of double ditches with, what the VCH calls, a rampart between them. There is a suggestion it may have originated as a moat but there is no evidence of occupation at the site and it may be the earthworks were always an adaptation to produce a complex set of fishponds, possible divided by hazel hurdles, allowing management of fish by age.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:01

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