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Biggleswade Ringwork

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Old Warden

In the civil parish of Biggleswade.
In the historic county of Bedfordshire.
Modern Authority of Bedfordshire.
1974 county of Bedfordshire.
Medieval County of Bedfordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL18434452
Latitude 52.08595° Longitude -0.27303°

Biggleswade Ringwork has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The earthwork and cropmark remains of a medieval ringwork and bailey castle together with a complex of other buried ditches and enclosures on a low gravel island to the west of Biggleswade. The site was initially identified from the air in 1954. Some rescue excavation was undertaken in 1962 in advance of the A1 Biggleswade by-pass. The site appears to date from the century or so after the Norman Conquest. Finds included pottery and evidence for wattle & daub and timber structures. Ordnance Survey field investigation in 1968 suggested that only the central mound and faint traces of the encircling ditch were still visible on the ground. The remainder had been levelled by the plough. (PastScape)

Lowerre (2005) argues that Ralph de L'isel, the lord of the manor, did not have the resources to build a castle and this was, therefore, a site most likely built by Bishop Alexander during the Anarchy. Gatehouse does not agree with his interpretation. Castles of this modest size are built by relatively impoverished tenants in the marches of Wales quite normally and this is somewhat atypical only in its context of a limited region survey. The likely date of construction is late C11 based on the limited excavated finds.
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 > 
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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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.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:01

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