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 

Castle Hymel, Fineshade

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Castle Hely; Humbel

In the civil parish of Duddington With Fineshade.
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: SP972976
Latitude 52.56810° Longitude -0.56764°

Castle Hymel, Fineshade has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The monument known as Fineshade Abbey consists of the earthworks of the motte and bailey known as Castle Hymel and of the priory which replaced it when the castle was demolished in about 1200. The motte lay on the higher ground to the east and the bailey lay on the western side of the site. There is no trace above ground of the priory but it stood on and around the location of the later house to the north of the site. The peripheral bailey of the castle was a semi-circular area lying to the west and north-west of the motte and now survives as earthworks. A long, curving bank up to 2.5m high running along the western edge of the site, above a steep valley, defines the extent of the bailey and below the bank the river runs into a large lake just north of the site. Within the bailey, platforms and depressions indicate the presence of former buildings. The priory was situated to the north of the castle motte within the northern area of the bailey. (Scheduling Report)

Fineshade Castle and Priory (SP 973976), on the E. side of a small brook in a steep-sided valley cut through limestone deposits, at 200 ft. above OD. The castle, known as 'Castle Hymel', is ill-recorded but apparently belonged to the Engayne family when it was demolished in c. 1200 to make way for the Augustinian Priory of St. Mary, founded by Richard Engayne who died in 1208. The priory was dissolved in 1536 and the conventual buildings were turned into a residence. These were demolished in 1749 and replaced by a large Georgian mansion which was pulled down in 1956, except for the stables and the S. part of the house. Traces of the castle still remain, but the whole area has been much altered by landscaping in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The local topography and such earthworks as exist suggest that the Castle may have been of the motte and bailey, or ring and bailey, type, with the motte or ring on the rising ground S. of the 18th-century house and E. of the stables, and with the bailey on the lower, flatter ground to the W. The best-preserved part is that which was presumably a section of the bailey rampart. This is a long curving bank up to 2.5 m. high running along the edge of a steep natural river cliff. At its S. end a gap which might be interpreted as an entrance is almost certainly a later cart-track. S.E. of the stables is another length of curved bank with an external ditch which may be the remains of the ring. (RCHME)

Almost yn the middle way I cam by Finshed, lately a priory of blak chanons, leving it hard by on the right hond; it is a 4. miles from Stanford. Here in the very place wher the priory stoode was yn tymes past a castel caullid Hely, it longgid to the Engaynes : and they dwellid yn it, ontylle such tyme that one of them for lak of childern of his owne began a priory ther, gyving them landes even thereabout : wherby after the castelle was pullid downe to make up the priory, so that now there remaynith almost no token that ever ther was any castel there. (Leland)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape       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 09:21:02

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