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Walden Castle

Hob Uid: 373679
Location :
Essex
Uttlesford
Saffron Walden
Grid Ref : TL5392038710
Summary : Castle, early 12th century keep built on a artificially heightened hill. Keep later used as semaphore station, barn and lime kiln. The Bailey ditch has been found by various excavations, and suggests that there were two ditch phases. The earliest bailey appears to have encompassed the whole circuit of Bury Hill. This was replaced by a much reduced bailey which ended East of the present church site, on the East side of the present Museum Street, and was entirely cut anew within the area of the earliest bailey.
More information : (TL 53923871) Walden Castle (NR) (Remains of) Bury Hill (NR). (1)

Walden Castle originally consisted of a mount on the east crowned by a keep, and a large bailey on the west. The keep was built and the earthworks constructed late in the 11th c. or early 12th c. The buildings apparently fell into decay at an early date; only remains of the keep now survive.

Little remains of the earthworks which lie on high ground on a promontory formed by the R. Slade and another stream. The site of the bailey is well defined by a steep scarp enclosing about 2 acres (Bury Hill). The line of the ditch at the foot of the scarp has been ascertained at several points, and is now occupied by Castle Street on the south, and on the east it followed the old road which is now obliterated by the grounds of Castle HillHouse.

The keep mount was never apparently of great height, and is now almost level with the surrounding ground.

The keep is built of flint rubble with a coursed facing; no dressing remains. Two stages of the building stand, and are entirely of early 12th c. date, except a low addition at the NW angle built late in the 18th c. as a semaphore station. (2)

The keep is all that now remains of Walden Castle, correct as shown on 6" Field Sheet. (3)

No change; published 1:2500 correct. See GP. (4)

Walden was one of Geoffrey de Mandeville's castle surrendered to Stephen in 1142 and destroyed in 1157-8. (5)

A soil mark over the supposed castle bailey ditch was excavated in 1972 at Castle Hill, Common Hill, and found to be a ditch surviving toa depth of 2.5m some 3.5m wide wioth flat bottom. Major irregularities in the lower sides and bottom of the feature suggested that it had been a quarry ditch only, or that it was an unfinished defensive work used as a strengthening during the Anarchy or representing a portion of an unfinished original work. (6)

TL 53713850. M. R. Petchey for Essex County Council cut a section across the outer bailey ditch in Barnard's Yard, High Street. It was V-shaped, 4.30m deep from the present ground surface, had a flat bottom 1.20m wide, and was 6m wide at the top. It had been deliberately filled during the late 12th century. (7)

The northern edge of the south ditch of the inner bailey was observed during sewer construction. The section was just north of Church Street (TL 53933867) and the bailey ditch was found to run parallel to Church Street. (8)

Excavation of the forebuilding of the keep was undertaken as part of a scheme to conserve the castle. The soil build-up within the fore-building was removed down to an undated chalk floor. Later floor levels indicate use of the building as a barn, recorded in 1836 and later as a lime-kiln. (9)

Scheduled. (8-10)

TL 541 388: Excavation at the castle by D Andrews for Essex County Council showed a layer of chalk at a depth of 0.30m - 0.35m to be redeposited, sealing a possible cellar or pit, perhaps of the C13th. It may have been sealed by a building, possibly the manor house recorded in the vicinity. All the evidence indicates that the castle earthworks and buildings have been extensively destroyed or altered inthe post-medieval period. (11-12)

TL 5392 3972: Walden Castle occupies the W spur end of Bury Hill, withthe land falling to all sides except the NE. The remains of the keep occupy a local high point possibly enhanced by artificial heightening.The keep is a square flint built structure standing about 10m with theremains of an entrance tower on the NW corner. The monument is a fairly amorphous structure of mortared flint with no freestone detail remaining. The W wall has been heavily consolidated, elsewhere however differential weathering allows building lifts of c.0.6m to be discerned. The basement has two alcoves on the W wall and single alcoves on the N and S walls. There is a single alcove on the W wall at first floor level. Central to the basement is the foundation of a central pillar, it is unclear whether this formed the central springerfor a vaulted undercroft or a support for timber flooring. Externally the remains of buttresses may be seen on the east, south, and north walls. The monument is in fair condition but is heavily ivy covered in places.

The keep as noted above sits on a local prominence which may in part be artificial. The earthworks visible today have been smoothed by their incorporation into a public park. A levelling out of the earthworks against the roads may indicate the former presence of properties backing onto the castle. A scarp projecting from the SW corner of the castle represents an old wall or hedge-line. The former extent of the castle may partly be preserved in the local road pattern, a horse shoe shape with the keep at the heel. The area of the bailey now occupied by the Museum and tennis courts is up to 3.0m - 4.0m above surrounding roads. Although this may in part be emphasised by the terracing into the hill of the buildings and gardens of Church Street and Castle Street. St Mary's Church may occupy the area of an outer bailey,the church and its enclosure being 2.0m - 5.0m above the surrounding properties. Museum Street sits in a hollow and may mark the position of a ditch between the two baileys. (13)

Additional bibliography (14)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1924
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : An inventory of the historical monuments in Essex. Volume I [north west]
Source details :
Page(s) : 234
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : CBA Gp Bull 5 1987 10 (DD Andrews)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 124
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 81, 1987
Source Number : 13
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F3 WDC 14-JUN-89
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 14
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : CBA Res Rep 45, Saffron Waldon: excavations and research 1972-80, 1982, 48-64 (S R Bassett)
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 JET 20-APR-50
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 FGA 05-MAY-68
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Norman castles in Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 337
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Archaeological excavations
Source details :
Page(s) : 84
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1972
Source Number : 7
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 184
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 20, 1976
Source Number : 8
Source : Essex archaeology and history : transactions of Essex Archaeological Society
Source details : C Couchman
Page(s) : 165
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 8, 1976
Source Number : 9
Source : Essex archaeology and history : transactions of Essex Archaeological Society
Source details : Couchman
Page(s) : 70-2
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 11, 1979
Source Number : 10
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : DOE (IAM) List Anc Mons 3 1978 31
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Extant 1090-1158
Monument End Date : 1158
Monument Start Date : 1090
Monument Type : Keep, Motte And Bailey
Evidence : Ruined Building, Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : C17
Monument End Date : 1699
Monument Start Date : 1600
Monument Type : Semaphore Station, Barn, Lime Kiln
Evidence : Ruined Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : EX 43
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 20671
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Essex)
External Cross Reference Number : 412:411
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TL 53 NW 11
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, WALDEN CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1881-01-01
End Date : 1881-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CASTLE MEADOWS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1912-01-01
End Date : 1912-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TL 53 NW 11
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1950-04-20
End Date : 1950-04-20
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TL 53 NW 11
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1968-05-05
End Date : 1968-05-05
Associated Activities : Primary, CASTLE HILL HOUSE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1972-01-01
End Date : 1972-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CASTLE MEADOWS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1973-01-01
End Date : 1973-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BARNARD'S YARD, HIGH STREET
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1975-01-01
End Date : 1976-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, WALDEN CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1978-01-01
End Date : 1978-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: OS SWEEPS
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1983-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, SAFFRON WALDEN CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT 54 CASTLE STREET
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT 63A CASTLE STREET
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE CHAPEL, CASTLE STREET
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2006-01-01
End Date : 2006-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, 4 CASTLE COURT, CASTLE HILL
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2006-01-01
End Date : 2006-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND REAR OF 30 CASTLE STREET
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CASTLE HILL TENNIS CLUB
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ST. MARY'S CE PRIMARY SCHOOL
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT THE COMMON
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2013-01-01
End Date : 2013-12-31