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Gannocks Castle, Tempsford

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

OS Map Grid Reference: TL16045293
Latitude 52.16246° Longitude -0.30480°

Gannocks Castle, Tempsford has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a Masonry Castle but is rejected as such, and also as a certain Fortified Manor House.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Rectangular ward, embanked, with wet defences small motte at one angle. (King 1983)

Open area excavation was carried out on the site of a medieval moated enclosure within the grounds of Tempsford Park, Tempsford, Bedfordshire in advance of a new highway. A total area of 0.64ha was examined taking in about half of a medieval moated enclosure and adjacent areas to the north and south.
The excavation produced limited evidence for prehistoric and Roman activity. More intensive occupation began in the middle Saxon period, with a series of enclosures that produced associated pottery finds of coarsewares and Maxey-type ware. The late Saxon period saw the formation of an organised landscape, with ditched boundaries defining a series of rectilinear plots. Associated finds of pottery and other domestic artefacts indicate the nearby presence of occupied tenements, but no buildings lay within the excavated area. The boundary ditches were recut and realigned over their two hundred years of use, and in the late 12th century a timber aisled hall was constructed along with a possible detached kitchen range.
In the early 13th century a large moated enclosure containing a timber manor house was imposed onto the existing settlement landscape. The manor house comprised a hall with a parlour/solar range to the north and a service wing to the south, and it is presumed that the ancillary buildings lay to the east, beyond the excavated area. The building was both extended and refurbished in the 14th century, and the pottery assemblage indicates that it was abandoned in the early to mid-15th century. The buildings appear to have been systematically dismantled, and small amounts of late 15th to early 16th century pottery may relate either to picking over of the debris or continuing occupation on nearby plots.
In the late 18th century the moated enclosure was taken into Tempsford Hall Park, and underwent some landscaping, and at the end of the 19th century the moat was partially filled with dumps of brushwood, soil and domestic debris from the house. (Northamptonshire Archaeology)

Salter suggests the 'motte' is the base of buried tower. PastScape say alleged Danish fortification, probably C12/C13 manorial site. This is clearly a fortified manor house but it seems unlikely it was a meaningful castle site. However, some of the earlier descriptions mention traces of other earthworks and it may be that the site is a moat in part of an earlier larger construction. The association of this site with the documented Danish fortification of 921 should be noted and then dismissed.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:01

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