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Historic England Research Records

Totternhoe Castle

Hob Uid: 346559
Location :
Central Bedfordshire
Totternhoe
Grid Ref : SP9789022100
Summary : A motte and three baileys occupies the west end of a notable promontory. The commanding position of the site has been exaggerated through extensive quarrying of the local chalk deposits from the medieval period to the present day. A number of cultivation terraces are also visible to the east of the castle.
More information : (SP 97892209) Castle Mound (NR) (1)

The castle comprises a motte of the usual type, rising on the extreme edge of the hill and in continuation of its slope, together with two baileys (See plan). The site is protected by the sheer drop of the hill on the NW., SW., and SE sides, though its W. side has now been destroyed by quarry excavation. It is quite evident that the works are wholly artificial. (2)

A turf-covered motte with three baileys as shown on Wadmore's plan and sections. Within the larger of the two inner baileys are two circular holes, the deeper of which could be the site of a possible well.
1:2500 survey revised. (3)

Description of Totternhoe Castle (4,5) with similar information to Wadmore (2). VCH (4) suggests that the outer enclosure may have originally been a Roman camp and Dyer (5) suggests that the site may have been an Iron Age promontory fort. No evidence is put forward to support either view.
Scheduled. (4-6)

Additional reference. (7)

SP 98062200. The motte comprises a conical mound surrounded by a broad ditch on all but the south west side. It is enclosed between two baileys. The smaller, western bailey is oval in plan and defined by a bank, while the eastern bailey is triangular in plan with a well shaft, known as the 'Money Pit' towards its west side. The third bailey lies immediately to the east. It is rectangular in plan and extends eastward along the spur. The earliest written reference to the castle dates from between 1170 and 1176.

The medieval quarries lie on the hillside below and to the north and north west of the motte. They survive as a series of infilled pits, spoil heaps and extraction scars.

East of the castle, a series of cultivation terraces or lynchets can be seen. These descend 30 metres from the 152 metre contour, forming steps which average 3 metres in height and terraces roughly 5 metres wide. A geophysical survey undertaken in 2001 indicated a buried trackway, running from the western arm of the outer bailey towards a track which still follows the upper terrace. It is thought that these lynchets may have developed during occupation of the castle.

Scheduling amended. (8)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : Ordnance Survey 6" 1960
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : The earthworks of Bedfordshire
Source details :
Page(s) : 139-144
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : First OS Archaeology Field Investigator 28/06/1971
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : The Victoria History of the county of Bedford, volume one
Source details :
Page(s) : 293-4
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1904
Source Number : 5
Source : Bedfordshire magazine
Source details :
Page(s) : 345-6
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 8, 1961-3
Source Number : 6
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : DOE (IAM) List Ancient Monuments 3 1978 p 8
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : English Heritage Schedule Entry 03/08/1995
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : EH Scheduling amendment, 09-SEP-2003
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Medieval
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Quarry, Spoil Heap, Extractive Pit, Lynchet, Trackway
Evidence : Earthwork, Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : C11 to C13
Monument End Date : 1299
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Earliest reference 1170-76
Monument End Date : 1176
Monument Start Date : 1170
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey
Evidence : Earthwork, Documentary Evidence

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : BD 12
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Bedfordshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 533
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 23401
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SP 92 SE 9
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, TOTTERNHOE KNOLLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1921-01-01
End Date : 1932-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SP 92 SE 9
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1971-06-28
End Date : 1971-06-28
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT TOTTERNHOE CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, TOTTERNHOE KNOLLS MOTTE AND BAILEY
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31