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Name:TOTTERNHOE CASTLE
HER No.:533
Type of Record:Monument

Summary

The site comprises a substantial motte and bailey castle occupying the western end of the Totternhoe Ridge, adjacent to a series of medieval quarries (HER 2437) cut into slopes to the north and north west and a flight of cultivation terraces, or lynchets, arranged within a steep-sided coombe to the east (HER 2605). The castle first appears in a grant of land to Dunstable Priory dated between 1170 and 1176, where it was called "castellaria de Eglemont". The builder of the castle is thought to have been Walter de Wahull, who also built castles in the parishes of Odell, Podington and Thurleigh.

The motte, is a conical earthen mound about 5m tall, set on the highest point on the spur overlooking the Ouzel valley and crowned by a concrete Ordnance Survey triangulation point (BN S4552). The mound has a diameter of 40m at the base and 14m at the summit, and is surrounded by a broad ditch of variable width on all but the south western side where the ground falls away steeply at the edge of the spur. A slight hollow in the top of the motte marks the location of an unrecorded antiquarian investigation, although the raised rim may also conceal the base of a stone tower noted by Lamborn in 1859.

The motte is enclosed between two baileys; the smaller western bailey is oval, measuring approx 63m by 80m, the second bailey surrounds the north and east sides of the motte and is separated from the first bailey (and the motte) by an 8m wide ditch and a broad counterscarp bank. This bailey is roughly triangular in plan, measuring approx 100m by 30m. A well shaft, known locally as "the Money Pit", lies toward the western side of the bailey. Dressed building stone was recovered from the shaft when it was excavated to a depth of 34 feet in the early 20th century. A third bailey, or outer ward, lies immediately to the east of the motte and inner baileys. This is rectangular in plan, measuring 90m in width and extending 150m eastwards along the spur.

The medieval quarries lie on the hillside below and to the north and north west of the motte, appearing as a series of infilled pits, spoil heaps and extraction scars lying both in open ground and in woodland. Several periods of extraction are represented by these workings. Totternhoe was an important source of stone in the medieval period, as the local soft limestone, known as Totternhoe Clunch, was much in demand for carving and dressing.

The main approach to the castle would have been along the ridge to the east, skirting the rim of the coombe and entering the castle through the western arm of the outer bailey; a geophysical survey has confirmed the presence of a track following this route.
In the 19th & 20th centuries there was speculationthat the castle may pre-date the medieval period, but small excavations in the early 20th century found no evidence. A geophysical survey undertaken in 2001 revealed a series of buried ditches forming an irregular grid on markedly different alignment to that of the bailey; these may be the remains of an earlier field system. In 2009, a second geophysical survey was undertaken of the outer bailey. This identified part of a circular ring ditch, approximately 30 metres in diameter with a possible entrance in the north-east. This feature may also contain an internal circular feature, around 5 metres in diameter. Whether this and other linear and discrete trends are contemporary with the castle is not known. A number of the linear features were however, identified as agricultural in origin.

The site is a Scheduled Monument.

Grid Reference:SP 980 220
Parish:TOTTERNHOE, CENTRAL BEDFORDSHIRE, BEDFORDSHIRE
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Full Description

<1> 1937, Bedfordshire Regional Planning Authority Report, p. 188 (Unpublished document). SBD10783.

Impressive by reason of its strength, though the west side now destroyed by quarry excavations. Of horse-shoe shape with artificial "lines" or terraces, & was built with central keep with 2 inner baileys, one large & one small, and an outer bailey.

<2> J. Nicholls, 1780-1797, Biblioteca Topographica Britannica, p. 194 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10922.

Pennant: "On hill called Castle Hill, c1 mile W of Maiden Bower, is a Roman camp (This must mean Totternhoe Castle), within which, near one end, is a large mount very hollow on top; near outside of one of ramparts is deep hile, probably the place of the draw-well. Stands on deep promontory, projecting westward."

<3> Daniel & Samuel Lysons, 1806, Magna Britannia, p. 35 & plan (Bibliographic reference). SBD10689.

A work of great strength, situated on brow of hill. Lofty circular mount with slight vallum round base, & larger one of irregular form at some distance from it. On SE side is camp in form of parallelogram, c500' x 250', 3 sides of which are secured by vallum & ditch, very entire on SE side; SW side, being on edge of precipice has no vallum. Probable that irregular fortress was British, & adjoining works added by Romans.

<4> Bedfordshire Times, 21/9/1850: Letter, H le Mesurier (Newspaper Article). SBD10544.

At Totternhoe, is undoubtedly British earthwork, determined by its circular form, as the adjacent one is by is rectangular declared to be Roman.

<5> John Britton & Edward Wedlake Brayley, 1801, The Beauties of England and Wales, Volume 1, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Vol. 1, p. 30, https://archive.org/details/beautiesofenglan01brit/page/30/mode/2up (Bibliographic reference). SBD10810.

"About half a mile westward from Maiden Bower, on the downs above Tottenhoe, is a strong fortification, towering on a promontory, that projects into the low lands. It is named Tottenhoe Castle, and overlooks the village of Stanbridge. It consists of a keep and circular area, with a square, and a precipice on the west side. The mount is high, and is encompassed by two ditches, one circular, the other square; it takes up the whole breadth of the ridge. The ground round about has been much broken by digging: in one place there appears to have been a well. Contiguous to this is another camp, of the figure of a parallelogram, the shortest sides running across the ridge, the others, length way along the ridge of the hill."

<6> W Nichols (sold by), 1855, Dunno's Originals, pp. 39, 48-49, 63-64 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10882.

p. 39: Totternhoe Castle, supposed to be a work made by Romans.
pp48-49: On north side of Totternhoe, on W side of Castle Hill, is embankment of circular form, which joins steep side of hill, similar to the Briton's towns. Country people by tradition affirm that the spot of ground had buildings all over it in former times; by observation, I found that knolls or ridges on the summit are formed by quarry stones, piled regularly in layers, without mortar; I consider this was the work of the Britons. Romans occupied it as station or camp. From Watling Street, roadway is still visible leading to eastern, or largest, gateway. Semi-circular embankment on west side might be winter quarters of Roman soldiers, as it is a much warmer situation.
pp63-64: Local tradition that Romans buried chest of gold on Castle Hill - chest was found, made of solid stone. Taken to Ashridge House.

<7> C Lamborn, 1859, Dunstaplelogia, pp. 15-16, 20 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10883.

pp15-16: Ramparted camp, undoubtedly British…..In centre is lofty circular mound with slight vallum round base, & larger one of irregular form some distance from it. On summit of hill are ridges of solid masonry, placed in regular layers upon each other without mortar.
p20: Roman camp or beacon at Totternhoe Castle - in form of parallelogram, 500' c 250'. 3 sides defended by vallum & fosse, to wouth west a precipice forms a natural defence. On north west, the boundary is formed with a vallum & fosse & the fortified British Camp. Area - c4 acres.

<8> Bedfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society, Vol. 24, 1871, pp. xlix-l; 146-147 (Article in serial). SBD10755.

Visit to Totternhoe Castle. Remarked that published ground plans very imperfect. Outer works in form of parallelogram, but irregular. Chief feature is enormous circular mound fenced by wall & ditch.
Pp146-147 (J Wyatt): Camden (Gough): "Keep & circular area, with a square to W side; precipice on west side, other sides single-ditched. Mount is high & besides a circular ditch, is encompassed by a square one which takes up the whole breadth of the ridge; ground all about much broken up by digging. In one place there seems to have been a well. Contiguous is another camp of parallelogram figure."
Outer works possibly constructed by Romans.
Probably of British origin.

<9> Bedfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society, Vol 24, 1871, p155 (Article in serial). SBD10755.

At Totternhoe, a square entrenchment shoes Traces of Roman work. (Forum Dianae [Dunstable] may have been protected by summer camp at Totternhoe).

<10> W H Derbyshire, 1872, History of Dunstable, pp. 16-17, 19 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10910.

pp16-17: Descendants of earlier [British] took up a position on Castle Hill - external vallum & fosse of considerable extent & depth, with very large concial mound in form of tumulus within the enclosure; around this mound, many excavations are seen. Lysons does not define age or uses, but blends Roman & British stations in one plan. Abandonded for Maiden Bower.
p19: Durocobrivae is 1½ miles west of Dunstable: camp in form of parallelogram….(as ref (7).

<11> Royal Archaeological Institute, Archaeological Journal, Vol. 39, 1882, pp. 267-268 (pp 13-14 in reprint) (Article in serial). SBD10785.

Gough (1806, ii, 55): "On Downs above Totternhoe is strong fortification raised high on Downs on promontory. Keep & circular area…..[as ref (8)]"
The rectilinear camp, SE of Totternhoe Castle, is still strongly marked by a fosse & vallum. These surround it on 3 sides, the 4th side defended by natural escarpment; which gives clue to Roman occupation. To my mind it was originally thrown up to defend force attacking Totternhoe Castle which was British stronghold. It was occupied during the time that Watling Street was made, & subsequently became fortress guarding the neighbourhood.

<12> Our Columns, Vol. 1, no. 2, June 1891, p. 28 (Article in serial). SBD10924.

Totternhoe:- never anything resembling a "castle" at this place. Site for beacon. Existing hollow on summit represents place where fires lighted. Adjoining & partly including theis Celtic stronghold is a well-developed Roman camp of the usual rectangular form. Vallum & ditch very distinct on NW side & in some other places, but entirely wanting on SW, where steep natural declivity of the ground rendered such protection unnecessary.

<13> Worthington G. Smith, 1894, Man, The Primeval Savage, pp. 322, 341 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10778.

At Castle Hill is British & Roman camp. Near great mount on British camp is large deep hollow - popularly termed "the Well". Probably represents excavation in which Kelts kept stores. Oldest inhabitants say it was "Money-Pit" when they were young, from a large box of money having been traditionally thrown in - if you jumped in, money could be heard chinking.
P.N. Totternhoe possibly derived from Teotan a burning or fire signal, ot seems to have reference to the use of the great hill for a fire beacon. A large depression for the furnace of old times still exists on top of the mound.

<14> Worthington G. Smith, 1904, Dunstable: Its History and Surroundings, pp. 41-42, 46, 121, and map (Bibliographic reference). SBD10781.

pp41-42: Totternhoe Knoll: Eastern side has whole straight ditch 200' long. This, & the plateau beyond, & the ditch to the north seem Roman work; elevated bank at north east angle is characteristically Roman. On south is natural precipice. Plateau is c500' long & bounded on west by British ditch, or British ditch altered in Roman times. Small Roman camp seems to have been constructed close to Bronzae Age look-out station. Entrances at north & south angles. Large circular enclosure with great knoll or fire-beacon in centre; further west, small irregular circular enclosure. On north east, wide deep depression like mouth of well, called money-pit. Sometimes called a well. Probably represents entrance to subterranean Bronze Age store-chamber.
p46: Totternhoe Hill was held by Romans.
p121: Through the gate to Totternhoe Knolls, a row of beech trees on right grow in well-preserved Roman ditch. Flat field beyond is area of Roman camp with a 2nd dry Roman ditch on right & precipice on left. Castle Hill is to west on other side of 3rd Brito-Roman ditch. Huge knoll is ancient British look-out & fire-beacon, & depression for furnace on top is clearly visible. Large hole on east side known as "Money-Pit". Earthworks on this part of hilla re ancient British.
Map: "Castle Hill" & "Knoll" written on area of motte, "Castle Yard" on enclosure to east.

<15> William Page & H. Arthur Doubleday (Editors), Victoria County History, Bedfordshire, Vol. 1, 1904, pp. 293-294 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10574.

Totternhoe Castle. This is just such another stronghold, perched on the end of a promontory of the chalk downs two miles to the west of Dunstable, at a point where with very steep sides to the west and south the downs rise out of the wide surrounding plain. It is thus only approachable by the old green trackway which leads along the heights from Dunstable past Maiden Bower. The surface of the plateau has been artificialy levelled, and fine linches terrace the face of the hill on the east.
From this side an oblong camp-like enclosure is first entered, with straight scarped sides and rectangular. There are no ramparts on the north or south, and the steeps on the latter side are precipitous. The east moat remains in good condition, but there is now no proper rampart, the ground sloping up so as to make a steep scarp to the ditch. It has been maintained that this outer enclosure was originally a Roman camp, but this is not certain since such rectilinear oblongs do occur in connection with manorial strongholds. On the other hand these mounded works might very well at times be inserted inside earlier stations, as appears to have been the case at Little Wymondley in Herts, where a moated mound and courts are placed within an almost quadrangular enclosure, in which Roman foundations of some length have been uncovered. Only excavation can settle the point.
As to the class of work at the west end of the oblong there can be no question. A great rounded mound with wide enclosing fosse, except where its base touches the scarp of the steep descent, stands in the centre. It rises to a height of some 23 feet above the bottom of the fosse, and is of the same globular form as Cainow, except that the top, 40 feet in diameter, is now flattened, and has a slight circular depression at the summit. There are two wards, one small, to the west, the other large and covering the mound both on the north and east, where it ends at the edge of the descent. Both were ramparted, and are separated from each other and the mound by the interior moats. The level of the east wards is some 6 feet above the larger one, and that is about the same above the outer plateau. There is a small stretch of rampart at the north-west angle, outside the exterior moar, and bending inwards, as though to cover an entrance at this point. The iner moat here is twice corrupted to form two banks of communication between the wards. Close to the inner rampart of the large court, near to the mound, is a small circular feature which has given rise to many conjectures. The rampart continues round its edge, producing a central hollow 11 feet deep. It is known as the 'Money-pit', from an old idea that any one jumping into the hollow could hear the rattle of coin below. The place may be the mouth of a shaft, perhaps leading down to the bottom of the heights near the brook. A smaller excrescence of the same kind adjoins it. The ground outside the work slopes gently away to the north-east.
The position is a majestic one, and to those moving on the lower plains for miles round, the Totternhoe mound seems to keep watch on its height like some great conning-tower.

<16> A H Allcroft, 1908, Earthwork of England, p. 416 n (Bibliographic reference). SBD11133.

Totternhoe, with circular mound & rectangular court wass ometimes styled a British camp, sometimes a rectangular Roman camp added to a British mound. Peculiar shape of court is simply due to natural contours. Unlikely that the site, 524 ft, was ever occupied by a permanent military post of the Romans, & the existing remains are too formidable to represent temporary works.

<17> William Page & H. Arthur Doubleday (Editors), Victoria County History, Bedfordshire, Vol. 3, 1912, p. 447 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10574.

Considerable hill known as "the castle", the slopes of which are covered with gorse; halfway up is a belt of young trees. On summit, extensive earthworks with mound at N end, with fine views of surrounding (ref 15).

<18> William Page & H. Arthur Doubleday (Editors), Victoria County History, Bedfordshire, Vol. 2, 1908, p. 15 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10574.

Camp on Downs at Totternhoe, of rectangular oblong shape; may have been Roman.

<19> C Gore Chambers, 1917, Bedfordshire, p. 95 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10754.

Encampment at Totternhoe may have been originally occupied in Bronze Age.

<20> Beauchamp Wadmore, 1920, Earthworks of Bedfordshire, pp. 139-144 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10706.

At extreme edge of undulating plateau of Chilterns.
Protected by sheer drop on NW, SW & SE sides, thought W side now destroyed by quarry excavation.
Within confines of rampart on E side, top levelled to form garth, protected on E by fosse with parapet on inner face, much of which has been spread, but sufficient remains to show that the angle at the N end was artificially strengthened. S end of fosse never reached hillside, & there is a slight hollow on a slope at this point which would indicate that the line of the defence was continued by a palisade down the hillside. Gap between fosse & hillside was in all probability a main entrance. On N face it is protected by a fosse so slight as to be valueless now, which eventually dies into the foss protecting the castle proper.
Castle consists of motte of usual type, rising on extreme edge of hill & in continuation of its slope, together with 2 baileys. Protected on E side by outer fosse with inner parapet. At S end, where it intersects with hillside, a lince or terrace starts to run along face of work at bottom of slope of rampart, & was no doubt continued until it joined N end of fosse on E side.
Fosse which partially surrounds motte discharges at S on to terrace, & is continued on NW by an arm towards the rampart, & discharges here with a shapr pitch on this terrace. This part protected by outlying triangular mound, probably to screen subsidiary entrance. This is the only indication that the site may have been the stronghold of a Neolithic tribe.
Remainder of fosse separating motte from W bailey was of no great strength.
Towards NE side of motte is depression indicating foundations of keep - no doubt accentuated by a large number of picnic parties. Larger bailey which encircles ⅔ of motte is raised considerably above level of garth.
In corner of rampart ("a"), not far from entrance, is circular hole.
Nearer the inner fosse are one large orregular & one smaller circular hole. The former is "Money Pit" considered by some to have been entrance of shaft by which water was obtained, though I'm inclined to favour the idea it was a modern shaft into the quarry. The other probability indicates the site of a flying causeway to the motte.
Smaller bailey, very much on slope, has been greatly mutilated. Many circular depressions all over surface. Larger bailey has many varying depressions.
9 gangways in various fosses.

<21> Notebook in Buckinghamshire County Museum, Aylesbury, Notebook: "Eaton Bray Book iiii, 1912", (F. G. Gurney collection) (Unpublished document). SBD11047.

Comparison of Totternhoe site to destroyed site in Leighton.

<22> Bedfordshire Magazine, Vol. 4, p. 24 (Serial). SBD10543.

Aerofilms aerial photo.

<23> G. J. Copley, 1958, An Archaeology of S.E. England, pp. 183, 233 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10738.

p183-184: It was probably during the Danish wars that the many place-names beginning with the word tōt came into use (Map 10). Its meaning is 'look-out hill', and the need for constant watch from the best vantage point in the parish must have been felt in many villages so that an alarm could be given in good time. The most interesting instance of this type of name is Totternhoe (Beds), for the second element, aern, means 'house' and implies some sort of shelter for the watcher. The mound which gave the place its name was adapted as a castle mound after the Norman conquest and a rectangular bailey was added.
pp232-233: Med mound and bailey castle, Norman, [SP] 978 222; Place-name Totternhoe 11C. 'Look-out house on ridge'.

<24> Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable, The Manshead Magazine/Journal of the Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable, Vol 2, Jan 1959, p. 20 (Article in serial). SBD10788.

Arcaheologia: "Site of Magiovinium may have been Totternhoe".

<25> Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable, The Manshead Magazine/Journal of the Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable, Vol 8, 1962, p. 132 (Article in serial). SBD10788.

Totternhoe Castle: At tip of Totternhoe ridge, on edge of very steep scarp - fine example of early Norman work.
Central mound & inner & outer baileys protected by banks & deep dry ditches. Entered from wide grass-grown trackway through outer rectangular enclosure.
AR Goddard, Dunstable year book, 1908 - "after conquest, Totternhoe was given to Walter Flandrensis, & he built this structure." One feature is "Money-pit" - there used to be a children's game to run 9 times round it & jump in, when "money could be heard". Local story that Dunstable Priory treasure was buried here at Dissolution.
Dunstable year book, 1933 - "Recent excavations have confirmed a Norman date, by discovery of dressed building stones, pottery, etc. Depression commonly called "money pit" proved to be a well." Now about 12' deep.

<26> Bedfordshire Magazine, Vol. 8, 1961, p. 114 (Serial). SBD10543.

There is reason to believe a similar promontory fort [to Sharpenhoe Clappers, SME 238] existed at Totternhoe Castle. A bank & ditch, re-used in Norman times, cuts off the hill-spur in a similar manner to Sharpenhoe.

<27> Bedfordshire Magazine, Vol. 8, 1963, pp. 345-346 (Serial). SBD10543.

On spur of Chilterns overlooking Ouzel valley. Original castle, motte with bailey to NW, protected to SW by steep slope. Motte c40' diameter at base & 20' at top, with steep sides. Mound may have been constructed round small wooden tower, remains of which perhaprs represented by depression at top. 2nd larger bailey added E of motte, probably joined to first by small timber bridge. Strong inner rampart supported wooden stockade against flat land to E. East bailey contains "Money-Pit", which seems to have been a well. Unpublished trial excavations by T W Bagshawe suggest it was once roofed over. Access to motte probably by flying bridge from hollow in Se side of first bailey. Not certain where original castle entrance was - gap in E angle of outer rampart seems more likely. 3rd so called bailey east of main works probably enclosed small settlement & may have been medieval fair-ground. Has all the appearance of unfinished bailey, with only marking-out bank for rampart on NE side. More massive line of ditch & rampart forms SE side & truncates hill-spur 450' form 2nd bailey. 80' wide gap between end of ditch & scarp slope. Camden considered it a separate work; & WG Smith a Roman camp, but there seems no evidence to support him. Tradition that soldiers dug ditch, & 8 kings buried in it.

<28> Bedfordshire Magazine, Vol. 9, 1963-1965, p. 114 (Serial). SBD10543.

Mound & earthworks of Norman castle, already an ancient monument, are to become a nature reserve.

<29> Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs (CUCAP), Cambridge AP: Index (Aerial Photograph). SBD10593.

DW 65-70 (13/7/1949) Castle earthworks, Totternhoe SP 979221
GA 55-57 (19/6/1951) Castle earthworks, Totternhoe SP 979221
LK 11-12 (22/4/1953) Totternhoe Castle earthworks SP 979221
AEE 44-47 (8/5/1962) Totternhoe Castle earthworks SP 979222
AVD 1-4 (8/7/1968) Totternhoe Castle earthworks SP 979221

<30> Dunstable Gazette, 4/10/1968, p. 5 (Newspaper Article). SBD10607.

Englemunt (Eagle's Hill) must have been early name for Totternhoe Hill & castle, built after Norman Conquest. By 1813, hill known as Eglemon. Included in charter to Dunstable Priory by Henry I, confimed by Richard I and Henry III. [I.e the name].

<31> Correspondence, Letter, J K St Joseph, 29/11/1971 (Unpublished document). SBD10802.

Listed as one of the most important sites in Bedfordshire.

<32> Bedfordshire Archaeological Council, Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal, Vol 6, 1971, p. 87 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10569.

Fine early Norman motte & bailey had become covered with scrub. Manshead Archaeological Society have begun programme of clearance.

<33> CBA Group 9 Newsletter, Vol 1, 1971, p. 15 (Article in serial). SBD10818.

Manshead Archaeological Society have been clearing scrub from motte & inner bailey.

<34> P Bigmore, 1979, Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire Landscape, pl. 1 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10902.

Photo - St Joseph GA 58 (Plate 1).

<35> Angela Simco, Comments (Observations and Comments). SBD10509.

R. Bradshaw (Beds CC, Surv Dept) found pottery rim sherd at base at base of right-hand post of style, at fence separating castle from nature reserve = TL [? Not filled in]. According to EM Baker: - Bedford fabric C1, grey sandy cooking pot, ?13th century.

<36> V H Chambers, Totternhoe Local Nature Reserve, pp. 110-111 (Bibliographic reference). SBD11134.

South slope of Totternhoe Hill facing village is planted, old established beech hanger. Nearly level top is still grassland & includes Norman castle mound with associated baileys.
Parties of Manshead Archaeological Society have cleared Norman castle area of scrub.

<37> Ordnance Survey, Ordnance Survey Archaeology Record Cards, OS: SP 92 SE 9 (Unpublished document). SBD10879.

SP 9789 2209 Motte & Three Baileys
[SP 9789 2209] CASTLE MOUND [NR] ( Ordnance Survey 6" 1960)
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, SE and SE sides, though the W side has now been destroyed by quarry excavation. It is quite evident that the works are wholly artificial. (The earthworks of Bedfordshire, Beauchamp Wadmore, pp139-144) BRS 7.5.71
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. PAS 28.6.71
Description of Totternhoe Castle (4,5) with similar information to Wadmore (2), VCH Vol I pp293-294 (4) suggests that the outer enclosure may have originally been a Roman camp and Dyer (Bedfordshire Magazine Vol 8, 1961-1963, pp345-346) (5) suggests that the site may have been an Iron Age promontory fort. No evidence is put forward to support either view.
Scheduled. CDA 10.4.81

<38> Ashmolean Museum, Aerial Photograph (Aerial Photograph). SBD12864.

Allen collections: Oblique AP, flown 2.10.37; SP 9722/1-4

<39> Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable, The Manshead Magazine/Journal of the Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable, Index (Article in serial). SBD10788.

Roman lead spindle-whorl (Luton Museum 93/49) found here.

<40> Beds CC Countryside Committee, The Knolls, Leaflet (Bibliographic reference). SBD11135.

Folding leaflet on Totternhoe Nature Reserve: Historical features - note site of Norman castle. Earthworks of inner bailey visible but no traces of wooden keep built on top of mound in 1100-1150. Large flat area of castle yard or outer bailey once enclosed by a wooden stockade.
Castle yard was arable field 150 years ago, subsequently sheep pasture and in early 20th century used as village sports hall. Colonised by dense hawthorn scrub in 1950s but recently cleared. South end of castle yard bounded by ditch which was originally much deeper and steeper with line of beech trees over 200 years old and known as the Seven Kinds as there were originally seven trees.

<41> A. Mawer & F. M. Stenton, 1926, The Placenames of Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire, pp. 139-140 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10941.

PN. Totternhoe Totenehon 1086. Suggested derivation OE to-aern look-out house; hoh - promontory
supported by topography and archaeology of Totternhoe Castle - and ancient camp.

<42> Bedfordshire Historical Record Society, Bedfordshire Historical Record Society, Vol. 2, 1914, p. 201 (Serial). SBD10681.

JE Morriss, 'The Assessment of Knight Service in Bedfordshire': At Totternhoe where Osbert was sub tenant [of the barony of Wahull in 1086] in the finest mound-and-court in Beds, placed on the tip of a steep spur looking out over the Vale of Bucks.

<43> Pigot and Co's Directory, 1839, p. 22 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10614.

The ruins of the ancient castle, fosse and citadel of Totternhoe...are as remarkable as any in the kingdom."

<44> Kelly's Directory, 1854, p. 59 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10539.

"is the supposed site of Totternhoe Castle: it consists of a lofty circular mount, with a slight voillum round its base, and a larger one of an irregular form, at some distance from it; it is considered to be a fortification of the ancient Britons."

<45> Kelly's Directory, 1885, p. 119 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10539.

"celebrated earthworks called "Totternhoe Castle", these consist of a lofty….as ref (44) plus "subsequently occupied by the Saxons, and afterwards converted into a Roman camp; the form of the works indicating British and Roman military construction and the name British and Saxon occupation.""

<46> Bedfordshire & Luton Archives and Records Service Documents, BLARS: Minute Book of Totternhoe Board of Conservators (Unpublished document). SBD10551.

14 August 1923: Visit by conservators to Castle Hill re 'excavations' by Mr Safford. Resolution to allow continued work but Safford to hold any finds of archaeological value on behalf of the Conservators, to see that excavations are properly covered over each evening and to preserve and reinstate grass.
16 March 1932. Report that Mr Safford had left a hole in the ground at the foot of the knolls and his authority to be rescinded.

<47> Bedfordshire & Luton Archives and Records Service Documents, BLARS: X 325/65, 66, 116, 149, 146/83, Notebooks (F. G. Gurney) - various refs (Unpublished document). SBD10551.

X325: Various references in F Gurney notebooks to Totternhoe Castle.
X325/65, 1921: Drawing of 2 rim sherds from Castle "This pottery is undoubtedly domestic ware of some date before the 13th century and after 1085." Gritty, sandy surfaced ware.
X325/66: Monday 24th July 1922. Mr Safford the elderly American who for perhaps ten years ahs been excavating on the chalk hills for some apparently occult purpose - certainly not for any archaeological one has lately resumedhis digging within Totternhoe Castle. I found him busy there some months ago and had a short conversation with him. One of the holes he then made was within the ditch of the motte to the NE was was fairly deep. It showed that the ditch had originally been at least ten feet deeper than it now is with a V section of a little less than a right angle at bottom. In the top soil there are only occasional scraps of pottery and I retrieved several pieces with fairly large parts of rims etc. They are all on the surface with a thin covering all over of brown or grey slip. This and the ware itself is full of white or red sand, no doubt from the Lower Greensand and this gives the ware a characteristic or pleasant roughness to the touch. The rims are varied in section and most of them and the ware itself are readily matched from the soil in my own garden at Eggington. The ware is all of practically the same date which is probably the 12th Century.
Last week finding Mr Stafford had sunk a very deep shaft, not only on the W slope of the hill and less holes within the W Castle Yard in two places but also a circular one of perhaps 50ft in depth in the curious circular hollow which I have so often guessed to be the mouth of the castle-well and which we call the 'Money Pit'. I rode over to the Cross Keys at Totternhoe to leave some of my archaeological pmaphlets for Mr Stafford, my recent lecture on Totternhoe Castle and a note which he had asked me for some time ago on the ancient Norman name of the astle 'Eglemunt'…..
X325/66: Mr Stafford has found that the 'Money Pit' is a circular shaft (?about 6 feet diameter but to ask him again) much more than 6 feet [added]. In the chalk; he has cleared it out to a depth of 34 feet (30 July 1922) and has now reached the bottom. He showed me a flint flake nearly white with age which he had found at some depth in the V filling. It shows a 'bulb of percussion' on one side and 4 faces or so on the other whence abortive flakes were struck. There is a little iron staining on theis side in which Mr Stafford by his hobby of emblematology believes that he can discern portaits and personages of the reigns of James I and Charles I and on the bulb side where there is a rippled fracture surface running down the smooth curved face he thinks he sees a portrait of a Hollander in a cap. HE believes that Simon Passe, the engraver (a brabanter I think) who he says lived at Ashridge, knew how to etch portraits on flint with hydrofluoric acid and buried the results of his labout in various parts of this district, especially about Totternhoe Castle. Mr Safford seems unable to suggest any reason for so astonishing a proceeding. What method there may be in his madness I do not know but it is curious that in calculating accroding to one of this strange old 17th century books referring to some place with a name of the same sense as Eglemunt (the old Norman name of the castle where of which I informed him and in which he was greatly interested) he has found another deep circular pit about a yard across or a little more. He has reached the bottom of this at (I think he said) 19 feet (but I must make sure) I saw this as well as the Money Pit and the fact is as I state.
There are no signs of any Masonry walling except traces of a containing wall of Totternhoe stone about the mound. Of this I saw many worked stones and took away one small piece showing a neatly worked angle.
Gurney hid a large piece of masonry from the (?spoils of Safford) Money Pit ecavation in grass in the motte ditch.
X325/116: 11th Sept 1923: "Mr Safford who has been excavating as usual about the Castle gave me a curious pierced disc of lead which he said he had found at a great depth within the castle. It is irregularly circular, 1 in to 1/16in diameter, swollen in centre and pierced. The sides of the perforation are slightly hollowed. Both outer surfaces are ornamented with raidating lines with pellets between them (similar to dagger pommel)" [presumably the lead spindle whorl, ref (39)].
X325/149: Draft of first part of a lecture on Totternhoe Castle stressing its Norman rather than British Roman and Saxon origins. Reference to grant to Dunstable Priory of land between the castellaria de Eglemunt and Edusuthe where the Priory had a gallows between 1170 - 1176. Word 'motte' still in use as 'motley' - the target in game of marbles.
X325/116: Press cuttings of lecture.
X325/65: Pottery as noted on p9. (sketch)
X325/146/83: Plan of castle - see attached, cf Ref (21).
X325/66, notebook, 1922 (F G Gurney): Mr Safford informs me that there are no signs that any of the baileys at Totternhoe Castle were ever walled with stone (as indeed the banks which enclose them suggest, for they seem to be made to carry a palisade), but that the motte had a containing wall of well-masoned Totternhoe stone. To ask him whether there is any sign of a stone keep. [added] - yes, a ring of stone on top of mound and another about 11 feet from the bottom of the fosse.

<48> The Dunstable Year Book and Directory, 1908, pp. 25-35 (Bibliographic reference). SBD11136.

Article describing earthworks suggesting Norman origin for Castle.

<49> The Official Guide to Dunstable and District with Local Directory, 1933, p. 29; 1937, p. 33; 1940-1941, pp. 37-39 (Bibliographic reference). SBD11137.

'Totternhoe Castle: the feature of Totternoe is its knoll and earthworks on a hill 526' above sea level. It is called Totternhoe Castle, and is undoubtedly a Norman one of the "mote and bailey" type. The earthworks consist of an outer bailey, an inner baileyand the mount towering high above both baileys, with a wide ditch surrounding it. The whole arrangement was finished off with a large garth with an upstanding rampart and deep ditch towards the south. In its original state the rampart was crowned with a long line of stockade, continued round the garth. The lord of the castle no doubt occupied the mound in a house built high up on the top of stout tree trunks. The garrison would occupy the inner and outer baileys and the flocks and herds would be kept in the garth.
Recent excavations have confirmed the Norman date by the discovery of dressed building stones, pottery etc. A depression commonly called the "Money Pit" proved to be a well.
In 1175 the castle was probably ruinous but the name was carried on in the quarries of "Eglemunt", which in 1169 provided stone for building the King's houses of Windsor….

<50> Associated Architectural Societies Reports, Vol 1 pt. 1, 1869, pp. 109-128, plan facing p. 124 (Article in serial). SBD10756.

Most notable earthwork in Bedfordshire. Approximately 500ft by 250ft. Strictly quadrangular form.
Situation, circular mound in NW extremity indicate the activity of Northmen "and his [Northmans} hand dug the irregular trenches on the NW"

<51> Luton Museum & Art Gallery Report, 1950-1954, p. 16 (Article in serial). SBD10758.

Accessions: Sherds, Totternhoe Castle, probably late 11th century /end 12th century. FG Gurney bequest.

<52> NMR Aerial Photograph, SP 9722/1-4 (Aerial Photograph). SBD10595.

Site visible on aerial photographs.

<53> Stukeley, 1776, Itinerarium Curiosum, Centuria II, p. 17 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10919.

"Tethill castle is a little further westward [From Maiden Bower, SMR 666], a strong little camp upon one of the many north-west precipices of chalk exceeding steep: a village underneath, & springs of water: it is a double camp, both square; in one a round keep, or a large tumulus ditched about, which shows it is a Saxon work." (ITER BOREALE)

<54> English Heritage, SAM Record Form (Scheduling record). SBD10803.

Norman earthwork. Under grass and well preserved. Ramparts of outer bailey leveled on NE and SW. Quarry near NE side being worked. {1}
Occupying a position at the end of a promontary, this must be one of the most impressive castle sites in Eastern England. The site comprises a large rectangular outer bailey to SE and a smaller 'D' shaped inner bailey, with the motte to NW. The outer bailey is bounded by a bank and 'V' shaped ditch to E and SE. The ditch and bank are particularly well preserved to SE. The bank standing up approx 3.5m from ditch bottom, the latter containing mature beech trees. The whole of the outer bailey is rough grass and fringed by hawthorn and a few mature trees. There is a little rabbit disturbance in the banks. The inner bailey is surrounded by a ditch some 3.5m wide and approx 3.5m deep from bank, to N and E. To W and S the scarp drops away sharply at the end of the promontory. The grass covered motte rises some 10m from ditch bottom, the ditch being dry approx 3m wide and choked with brambles and hawthorn scrub, which appears to have been cleared in the small area. The motte is flat-topped some 16m 0' with a depression 7m x 5m on the top, where four footpaths meet. There is a 'trig' point on the E quarter.
Old quarries are grassed to N and appear to be in use to E. Except for erosion to sides of motte by footpaths, and the thick scrub surrounding, the monument is in reasonable condition. {2}
Outer bailey bank to SE shows continued erosion, this exacerbated by presumably children swinging on a rope. Motor-cycle tracks noted running along the SW edge of the bailey and across the centre and using the banks as a jump point. Some scrub dying off on bailey banks. Some burning noted at N end. Outer bailey under rough pasture. Inner bailey, ditch and motte sides mostly masked in thick scrub and rough grass. Moat appears to have been cleared to W, bramble and willo wherb now encroaching. Motte grassed on summit, continuing erosion around trig-point and along footpaths to N and S, motor-tracks again evident. The SA appears arbitrary to SE of outer bailey bank and difficult to assess. {3}
Erosion on S.E bank of bailey continues, though rope has been tied up, this presumably preventing children swinging. Two further areas of erosion, noted to side of original area. Horse tracks indicate that riders are ignoring notices directing them to N.E. Riders do not appear to be entering outer bailey, but tracks noted in outer bailey ditch to S.E., and in field to S.E. Scrub is again thick in previously cleared areas of ditch, and in several other places. Animal disturbance very bad in S.E. corner of both inner and outer ditches of inner bailey with huge quantities of chalk being thrown up, this possibly badger setts. Footpath erosion on motte continues especially to N.W. and S.E. and along scarp to N.W. between stiles. This exposing chalk in a few areas but not yet consisting of severe erosion. {6}
{1} OW819
{2} H Paterson, 1983
{3} H Paterson, 1987
{4} VCH Beds, Vol 3, 1912, p447
{5} B Wadmore, earthworks of Bedfordshire, 1920
{6} H Paterson, 1988

<55> Nature Conservancy Council, 1988, Biological Survey of Common Land, Beds CL16; Biological Survey of Common Land (Unpublished document). SBD10857.

Management: The site has become more rank and scrub covered in recent years, and grazing is necessary. The common has already been fenced into sub-compartments by Bedfordshire County Council. The aims of the management plan, which has been approved by NCC< are to maintain and enhance the calcareous grassland and associated invertebrates and orchids, and maintain the 'beech hanger' woodland. Sheep grazing is proposed at one sheep per acre per year in late summer or early winter. Cutting is proposed if sheep cannot be used. Scrub remival is also proposed. IN the woodland, sycamore control is proposed. This management plan should serve to maintain the interest of the site if all is carried out as planned.

<56> South Beds District Council, 1993, Beds Wildlife Working Group Manual of Wildlife Sites & Species Protection, p. 169 (Unpublished document). SBD10759.

A County Wildlife Site containing chalk downland. Site comprises: Totternhoe Knolls SSSI: a small area of unimproved calcareous grassland at SP 984 219 and a very small area of broadleaved woodland adjacent to northwest; a small field of unimproved calcareous grassland at SP 9844 2180; a field of calcareous grassland at SP 985 217 and a small trinagular block of dense scrub adjacent to northeast; a block of dense scrub at SP 986 217 surrounding a small area of calcareous grassland.

<57> HER plans, Plan in PlanTank. (Plan). SBD10881.

Totternhoe Castle earthwork survey plan, 1:1250, by Christopher Taylor (RCHME), Angela Simco & Stephen Coleman, 1980.

<58> M Dawson, 2000, Prehistoric, Roman and Post-Roman Landscapes of the Great Ouse Valley, p. 24 "The Prehistoric vegetation & environment of the River Ouse Valley" (Bibliographic reference). SBD10951.

The character and importance of cereal cultivation is clearly seen from analysis of the charred plant remains from suitable 'on-site' preserving contexts such as pits, ditches and kilns. Interest in Bedfordshire was shown by John Percival and Hans Helbaek as long ago as 1937 with their examination of Iron Age and Romano-British cereal grain from Totternhoe Castle, where two-row barley, bread wheat and Tye Brome grass (Bromus secalinus) were identified from excavations by D F Hawkes (Carruthers 1990)

<59> Council for British Archaeology, South Midlands Archaeology, Vol 32, 2002, p. 9 (Serial). SBD10576.

Located on an outlier of the Chilterns, Totternhoe is known for its medieval stone quarries, which are mentioned as early as 1131 when they were acquired by Dunstable Priory. The 'castle' is actually a Norman motte and bailey, perched rather dramatically on the chalk outlier. Despite the quarrying it is remarkably complete, retaining a small motte surrounded by an inner abiley, together with a large outer bailey sealed by a broad bank and ditch running across the width of the outlier.
The site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, owned by Bedfordshire County Council but managed by the National Trust. Very little is known about the site. Therefore in order to test its archaeological potential, a resistivity survey was carried out by National Trust volunteers. Surveys were carried out over the inner and outer baileys and over the approach to the outer bailey. The inner bailey has been affected by quarrying and therefore produced little of interest. The outer bailey, however, revealed a complex of high and low resistance features covering vitrually the entire area. These intially proved difficult to interpret until the plots was processed with a low sun angle. The results suggest that the complex is probably the remnant of an Iron Age or Roamno-British field system, created with a series of irregular enclosures. If this is the case then it adds weight to the conclusion that the motte and bailey incorporates the remains of a much earlier prehistoric enclosure.
The discovery of this field system, and the discovery of concealed tracks leading up to the outer bailey, provides further evidence of the importance of the site and its archaeological potential. The area protected by scheduling is therefore likely to be extended.

<60> GSB Prospection Ltd, 2009, Totternhoe Knolls Motte and Bailey Castle, Totternhoe, 2009/04 (Archaeological Report). SBD12524.

Within the outer bailey (Area 1) part of a circular ring ditch has been identified; it is approximately 30m in diameter with a possible entrance in the north-east. There are hints in the data of an internal circular feature, some 5m in diameter. It is uncertain whether the features are earlier, later or contemporary with the castle. The same applies to numerous pit-like anomalies which have also been located within the survey area.

<61> Luton Museum, Accession Register (Unpublished document). SBD10775.

93/49 - Fragment of spindlewhorl, lead with stamped decoration of dots & lines. Totternhoe Castle. Romano-British, bequeathed F G Gurney.
310/52 Fragment of buff pottery, found 200 yards north of Totternhoe Castle, Roman. Bequeathed F G Gurney.

<62> HER Slide Archive, 2217-2225; 3109; 3463; 4018; 5142; 6655; 6689-6690 (Slide). SBD10508.

Images include a reconstruction of the site, colour images of the site and photos of the aerial photographs.

<63> Department of the Environment, Ancient Monuments Record Form (Unpublished document). SBD11883.

Description: Norman earthwork. Under grass and well preserved ramparts of outer bailey levelled on NE and SW. Quarry near NE side being worked <1>. Occupying a position at the end of a promontory, this must be on eof the most impressive castle sites in eastern England. The site comprises a large rectangular outer bailey to SE and a smaller D-shaped inner bailey with the motte to NW. The outer bailey is bounded by a bank and V-shaped ditch to E and SE. The ditch and bank are particularly well preserved to SE, the bank standing to approx 3½m from ditch bottom, the earlier containing mature beech trees. The whole of the outer bailey is rough grass and fringed by hawthorn and a few mature trees. There is a little rabbit disturbance in the banks. The inner bailey is surrounded byu a ditch some 3½m wide and approx 3½m deep from bank to N and E. To W and S the scarp drops away sharply at the end of the promontory. The grass covered motte rises some 10m from ditch bottom, the ditch being dry approx 3m wide and choked with brambles and hawthorn scrub, which appears to have been cleared in one small area. The motte is flat topped some 16m Ø with a depression 7m x 5m on the top, where four footpaths meet. There is a trig point on the E quarter. Old quarries are grassed to N and appear to be in use to E. Except for erosion to sides of motte by footpaths, and the thick scrub surrounding the monument is in reasonable condition <2>.
Site management: Letter from Beds CC 9.1.84. Rabbits are not a problem, if however damaging infestations occurred this would be treated. Treasure hunters do appear occasionally, but are always warned off. In conjunction with Beds and Hunts Naturalists Trust, the County Council MSC team are planning a programme of scrub clearance. Mr X has agreed to this, providing Angela Simco from Beds CC is involved in the scheme. Phone call from Miss Simco 27.2.84 confirming she will attend a meeting in the near future and advise on clearance, burning on wood etc on site. <2>

<64> Bedfordshire County Council, BCC Photographic Unit, PU23/1972 (Photograph). SBD10507.

Black & white image of the castle yard or bailey looking south to the56 remaining beeches of the "Seven Kings" group, showing the reinstatement of the former area of scrub. Also The bailey & seven kings and the castle yard or bailey looking NW to the mound.

<65> Bedfordshire County Council, HER Photograph Archive, F1273/9-10; 8/9/00 (Photograph). SBD10506.

Colour images of the outer bailey (ditch) and the motte.

<66> Bedfordshire County Council, HER Photograph Archive, F618/3a-4a; 13.2.1987 (Photograph). SBD10506.

Colour images of NE ditch of motte & East from top of motte & the "money pit".

<67> Angela Simco, Site visit notes (Notes from site visit). SBD12095.

OS 25" map anotated following site visit.

<68> Leighton Buzzard Observer, Excavating Mystery; 27/5/1924, p. 5 (Newspaper Article). SBD10680.

As the excavations which have been going on in the Totternhoe Regulated Pastures for the the past two years seems to have mystified the villagers, it may interest them to know the cause. By consent of the Conservators, a Mr Safford has been making investigations with a view to ascertaining whether the ancient Britons had any knowledge of engraving on flints by means of a certain acid, which until comparatively recent times was unknown. Mr Safford is now nearly sure, from the flints he has found at Totternhoe and other parts of the country, that this acid must have been known and used in olden days.

<69> Bedfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society, Vol. 24, 1871, p.155 (Article in serial). SBD10755.

[No info]

<70> Journal of the British Archaeological Association, ns, Vol. 33, pp. 215-218 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10927.

[No info]

<71> Bedfordshire Magazine, Vol. 4, p. 24 (Serial). SBD10543.

[No info]

<72> 1974, Hunting Aerial Photos 1974, 4/2756 (Aerial Photograph). SBD10649.

Site visible on aerial photo

<73> 1968, Hunting Aerial Photos 1968, 5/7982 (Aerial Photograph). SBD10637.

Site visible on aerial photo

<74> 1976, Hunting Aerial Photos 1976, 16/1303 (Aerial Photograph). SBD10652.

Site visible on aerial photo

<75> Department of the Environment, Notification of Scheduling, or an Affirmation or Revision of Scheduling (Scheduling record). SBD12255.

Map showing extent of scheduled area, which has since been revised.

<76> Ordnance Survey, 1979, Ordnance Survey 1:2500, 1979 (Map). SBD10786.

Map annotated with contours sketched from OS 1:25,000

<77> 1987, Management Plan for Totternhoe Knolls (Unpublished document). SBD12865.

Management plan focussed on biological/ecological management.

<78> Angela Simco, Site visit notes (Notes from site visit). SBD12095.

OS 1:25000 map annotated to show areas of scrub and erosion.

<79> Angela Simco, Site visit notes (Notes from site visit). SBD12095.

OS 1:25000 map annotated to show areas of scrub.

<80> Angela Simco, Site visit notes (Notes from site visit). SBD12095.

Visit with Leisure Department rangers, Dave Hillyard, Mike Parker-Pearson & Helen Paterson:
Erosion on motte: DH reckons that it's very gradual, and there's been no great increase. Mike Peter-Pearson not against insertion of steps, but adviseds that the situation be monitored closely for a while, to see if action necessary.
Erosion of outer earthwork (swing): Ranger could remove rope & dead branch from which it's hanging, but agreed that not a serious problem.
Scrub: DH to pass current management plan to AS, to discuss best approach to scrub clearance.

<81> Transcripts of comments made by individuals to members of HER staff (Verbal communication). SBD10740.

Leisure Services to provide English Heritage with specifications for: a) filling in & reseeding erosion on NW side of motte - area to be closed off temporarily when done; b) new steps on SE side of motte - to be revetted and filled, not cut; c) new wooden pinch-point to be placed on causeway leading over ditch between main bailey and inner bailey (to stop mountain bikes). Rabbits to be culled: shot rather than ferreted.
Large tree trunk or similar to be placed in outer bailey ditch bottom to SE to deter mountain bikes. Scrub clearance near motte to be small areas each year, not wholesale.

<82> Angela Simco, Site visit notes (Notes from site visit). SBD12095.

Visit with Martin Oake after reported clearance. Scrub clearance extensive on north side of motte mound - large areas of bare soil left. More clearance in one go than agreed previous June with Mark Roberts and Debby Priddy (English Heritage).
Subsequent enquiries show that Leisure Services were not allowed to reseed by English Nature as site is SSSI. Suggestion of fencing off of relevant areas until ground cover restored. English Nature agreed site could be seeded with locally gathered seed.

<83> English Heritage, General correspondence, Letter from EH to Countryside Commission (Unpublished document). SBD11860.

Letter outlining need to mend erosion scars on the earthworks by importing topsoil.

<84> Martin Oake, Site Visit Notes (Observations and Comments). SBD12717.

Cycling continues over outer bailey ditch. In outer bailey several patches of undergrowth - grass and nettles which do not appear to have been cut this year. If left would certainly develop towards scrub quite quickly. Central patch in outer bailey is v short grass. ? Result of rabbits and human use. No evidence that the area is being grazed as per CS management plan.
Inner bailey - area previously cleared has had scrub growing back. Elder and sycamore are re-establishing, on SE side of motte almost reached summit. Evidence of recent rabbit activity.

<85> Planning/Listed Building Application(s) Documentation, BCC/93/028 (Unpublished document). SBD10792.

Comments re continuation of filling operations for restoration purposes.

<86> English Heritage, Notification of Scheduling, or an Affirmation or Revision of Scheduling, 23401 NOW SUPERCEDED (Scheduling record). SBD12102.

Totternohoe Castle occupied the west end of a notable promontory of the chalk downland. The commanding position of the site has been exaggerated trough extensive quarrying of the local chalk deposits from the medieval period to the present day. The motte is an earthen mound which has a diameter of c.40m at its base and c.14m at the crown which is about 5m high. A slight hollow on the top was caused by an antiquarian excavation. An Ordnance Survey traingulation point (BN S4552) crowns the summit of the motte. There is a ditch of variable width and depth around the base of the motte on all but the south western angle.
The motte is eccentrically placed between baileys to the east and west. The smaller, to the west, is an oval enclosure, measuring c6.3m north west to south east by c.80m north east to south west including a short surviving section of an external bank on the northern angle. Except on the south western angle, where there is an artificially created scarp, the bailey is defined by a bank of variable dimensions. An 8m wide ditch sseparates this bailey from the counterscarp bank on the east side of this ditch. It is generally about 8m wide, except almost due east where it expands to about 20m to enclose a well, the Money Pit, which has been excavated to a depth of 13m. At its maximum the eastern bailey measures 100m north-south by 105m east-west including banks, ditches and the counterscarp on the east side. There is a 12m wide bank on all but the south western angle which is defined by an artificial scarp. The causeways across the bailey ditches and breaks in the enclosing banks are modern; there is no evidence to indicate the original entrances. A third bailey lies immediately to the east of the eastern bailey. This bailey is unusually large measuring 190m north west to south east by 115m north east to south west inclusive of all scarps, banks, ditch and counterscarp. It is denined by low scarps on both the south west and north east sides, with traces of a low, 4m wide by 0.2m high bank on the crest of the latter scarp. The c.2m high bank and external ditch, about 10m wide by 3m deep. There are traces of a counterscarp bank, c.4m wide by 0.2m high, outside the ditch. The bank and ditch terminate 14m before the south east corner of the bailey, forming the only entrance into the enclosure. At the north east corner both the bank and ditch swing north west for about 20m before stopping abruptly, the low scarp continuing the line of the earthwork.
The medieval quarries lie on the hillside below and to the north west and west of the motte. They consist of a series of infilled pits, spoil heaps and extractions scars lying both in open ground and in woodland. Several periods of workings are represented by the quarries which were owned successuvely by the Crown and Dunstable Priory in the medieval period. Unlike most quarries, which supplied general building stone, the Totternhoe quarries were the source of a soft stone favoured for carvings and dressings in high status buildings. Totternhoe clunch was used in Wondosr Castle as well as many churches in Bedfordshire and neighbouring coutnies.
All fences, fence posts and stiles are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath all these features is included. The Ordnace Survey triangulation pint is included in the scheduling.
ASSESSMENT OF IMPORTANCE: Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with exapmples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.
Totternhoe Castle is the largest motte and bailey castle in Bedfordshire. Its importance is emphasised by the commanding position it holds on the chalk downland overlooking communication routes along the Ouzel valley, thus illustrating the strategic role of the castle in establishing control of the area in the years following the Norman Conquest. Totternhoe Castle is of an unusual form, having three baileys surrounding the motte; this, in addition to its size, is an indication of its importance in the line of Norman fortifications to which it belongs. The monument exceptionally well preserved. The baileys, in particular the large outer bailey, are likely to contain evidence which will enable the identification of areas devoted to numerous activities such as accommodation, service quarters, stores and granaries, stock enclosures and perhaps gardens. Dressed stone recovered during excavation of the well indicates the presence of masonry buildings on the site, evidence of which will survive as buried features.
Stone quarries have a long history of extraction from Roman through to post-medieval and modern periods. Where suitable building stone was available, most parishes had their own stone pits or held rights in common. Stone suitable for dressing and fine carving was particularly prized and extensive industries grew up, notably in the medieval period when there was considerable demand for churches and other high status buildings. Variations within the quarry earthworks may reflect both social changes and technological advances.
The Totternhoe Knolls quarries represent a paricularly important aspect of the medieval stone extraction industry. They are recorded as early as 1131 when Dunstable Priory aquired land from the Crown. Although a soft rock, stone from the quarries was favoured for carving and the furnishing of features within buildings. Totternhoe stone features in both Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle. The development of the industry is evidence in the variation of quarrying techniques employed on the site, and in numerous documentary sources. The qaurries are the medieval precursor to the impressive post-medieval shaft workings lying to the north, which are nor included in the present scheduling. The monument is included in a public amenity area.

<87> Stephen R. Coleman, Comments, Comments on draft text for interpretation board (Observations and Comments). SBD10779.

William the Conqueror rewarded those who fought for him in 1066 with grants of land and estates confiscated from the defeated English. Totternhoe Manor was given to Walter de Wahull, a Flemish adventurer [?will this be meaningful to the average visitor?]. Walter is thought to have built Totternhoe Castle to defend his holding here; his main stronghold was NW of Bedford at Odell, a long journey from the valuable quarries at Totternhoe. The castle may have been built on an Iron Age fort - the site is ideal, but no remains have been found. IT is first mentioend as 'castelloria de Eglemont' (Eagle's Hill) in 1170, and was in use for a relatively short period. It originally consisted of the motte (mound) with a small bailey (enclosure) to the north west. A second bailey was later added to the east and then the large rectangular outer baile to the south east though this was not necessarily for a military purpose. Most of any any buildings would have stood in the two inner baileys. In the early 1900s and American, William Stafford, excavated parts o fthe motte and baileys. F. G. Gurney, a local amateur archaeologist, visited regularly and noted stone footings of the keep which once stood on the motte, and suggested that the 'Money-Pit' as probably a well. (Safford's explorations of the medieaval quarries started a local rumour that the Germans had a Zeppelin base in the tunnels).

<88> Stephen R. Coleman, Comments (Observations and Comments). SBD10779.

Comments re. sketch of reconstruction of castle for interpretation board.

<89> English Heritage, General correspondence, 6/9/2001 (Unpublished document). SBD11860.

Letter granting consent for geophysical survey to be undertaken.

<90> English Heritage, Notification of Scheduling, or an Affirmation or Revision of Scheduling, 23401; 29/9/2003 (Scheduling record). SBD12102.

Revised description of the scheduled monument - as per designation information.
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.

<91> DCMS, Scheduled Monument Consent (consent for works to or affecting a Scheduled Monument) (Unpublished document). SBD11896.

Consent for a new footpath.

<92> Bedfordshire County Council, Totternhoe Knolls (Leaflet). SBD12866.

Castle Mound is the earthworks of a motte and bailey castle built in the late 11th or early 12th century. Little is known about the castle, why it was built or by whom. What is known is that it was called the castle of Eglemont (Eagle's Hill). The motte (or mound) may have been topped by a stone keep, as stone footings have been found. The castle yard is the outer bailey (defended enclosure) of the castle.
The castle itself was only used for a relatively short period of time. However, the yard has since been used for arable farming, as sheep pasture, as a village sports field and as the site of an annual fair. It is now managed as a hay meadow to encourage the growth of widlflowers which attract butterfiels and to benefit other wildlife. The castle mound and yard is a scheduled Ancient Monument.

<93> Bedfordshire County Council, 1989, Totternhoe Knolls: A guide to the reserve (Leaflet). SBD12867.

In Norman times an extensive castle was constructed on top of the Knolls, possibly to protect the stone quarries during the unrest of King Stephen's reign. The castle consisted of a large mound, known as a 'motte', with a wooden fort or keep where the Ordnance Survey Triangulation Point now stands. The mound was surrounded by both inner and outer yards or 'baileys', the former still apparent as scrub covered earthworks, and the latter as a large rectangular field lying to the southeast of the castle mound. Originally this outer bailey would have been enclosed by a woodedn staockade. The deep ditch at its far end still survives, marked by some noble beeches, now sadly in decline, known as the Seven Kings.

<94> NMR/AMIE, HE NRHE Monument Inventory, 346559 (Index). SBD12367.

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.

Protected Status:

  • Archaeological Notification Area
  • Archaeological Notification Area (AI) HER533: TOTTERNHOE CASTLE
  • Scheduled Monument 1020772: Totternhoe Castle: a motte and bailey castle, medieval quarries and cultivation terraces
  • SHINE: Earthwork remains of Totternhoe Castle, stone quarry and lynchets

Monument Type(s):

Associated Finds

  • FBD1639 - FLAKE (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FBD503 - BOX (Roman/Romano-British - 43 AD? to 409 AD?)
  • FBD1422 - SPINDLE WHORL (Roman/Romano-British - 43 AD? to 409 AD?)

Associated Events

  • EBD547 - Totternhoe Knolls, Motte & Bailey castle; Geophysical Survey Report (Ref: 2009/04)
  • EBD1460 - Totternhoe Castle, resistivity Survey

Sources and Further Reading

[1]SBD10783 - Unpublished document: 1937. Bedfordshire Regional Planning Authority Report. p. 188.
[2]SBD10922 - Bibliographic reference: J. Nicholls. 1780-1797. Biblioteca Topographica Britannica. p. 194.
[3]SBD10689 - Bibliographic reference: Daniel & Samuel Lysons. 1806. Magna Britannia. Bedfordshire. p. 35 & plan.
[4]SBD10544 - Newspaper Article: Bedfordshire Times. 21/9/1850: Letter, H le Mesurier.
[5]SBD10810 - Bibliographic reference: John Britton & Edward Wedlake Brayley. 1801. The Beauties of England and Wales, Volume 1, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire. Vol. 1, p. 30, https://archive.org/details/beautiesofenglan01brit/page/30/mode/2up.
[6]SBD10882 - Bibliographic reference: W Nichols (sold by). 1855. Dunno's Originals. pp. 39, 48-49, 63-64.
[7]SBD10883 - Bibliographic reference: C Lamborn. 1859. Dunstaplelogia. pp. 15-16, 20.
[8]SBD10755 - Article in serial: Bedfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society. Vol. 24, 1871, pp. xlix-l; 146-147.
[9]SBD10755 - Article in serial: Bedfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society. Vol 24, 1871, p155.
[10]SBD10910 - Bibliographic reference: W H Derbyshire. 1872. History of Dunstable. pp. 16-17, 19.
[11]SBD10785 - Article in serial: Royal Archaeological Institute. Archaeological Journal. Vol. 39, 1882, pp. 267-268 (pp 13-14 in reprint).
[12]SBD10924 - Article in serial: Our Columns. Vol. 1, no. 2, June 1891, p. 28.
[13]SBD10778 - Bibliographic reference: Worthington G. Smith. 1894. Man, The Primeval Savage. pp. 322, 341.
[14]SBD10781 - Bibliographic reference: Worthington G. Smith. 1904. Dunstable: Its History and Surroundings. pp. 41-42, 46, 121, and map.
[15]SBD10574 - Bibliographic reference: William Page & H. Arthur Doubleday (Editors). Victoria County History, Bedfordshire. Vol. 1, 1904, pp. 293-294.
[16]SBD11133 - Bibliographic reference: A H Allcroft. 1908. Earthwork of England. p. 416 n.
[17]SBD10574 - Bibliographic reference: William Page & H. Arthur Doubleday (Editors). Victoria County History, Bedfordshire. Vol. 3, 1912, p. 447.
[18]SBD10574 - Bibliographic reference: William Page & H. Arthur Doubleday (Editors). Victoria County History, Bedfordshire. Vol. 2, 1908, p. 15.
[19]SBD10754 - Bibliographic reference: C Gore Chambers. 1917. Bedfordshire. p. 95.
[20]SBD10706 - Bibliographic reference: Beauchamp Wadmore. 1920. Earthworks of Bedfordshire. pp. 139-144.
[21]SBD11047 - Unpublished document: Notebook in Buckinghamshire County Museum, Aylesbury. Notebook: "Eaton Bray Book iiii, 1912", (F. G. Gurney collection).
[22]SBD10543 - Serial: Bedfordshire Magazine. Vol. 4, p. 24.
[23]SBD10738 - Bibliographic reference: G. J. Copley. 1958. An Archaeology of S.E. England. pp. 183, 233.
[24]SBD10788 - Article in serial: Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable. The Manshead Magazine/Journal of the Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable. Vol 2, Jan 1959, p. 20.
[25]SBD10788 - Article in serial: Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable. The Manshead Magazine/Journal of the Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable. Vol 8, 1962, p. 132.
[26]SBD10543 - Serial: Bedfordshire Magazine. Vol. 8, 1961, p. 114.
[27]SBD10543 - Serial: Bedfordshire Magazine. Vol. 8, 1963, pp. 345-346.
[28]SBD10543 - Serial: Bedfordshire Magazine. Vol. 9, 1963-1965, p. 114.
[29]SBD10593 - Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs (CUCAP). Cambridge AP: Index.
[30]SBD10607 - Newspaper Article: Dunstable Gazette. 4/10/1968, p. 5.
[31]SBD10802 - Unpublished document: Correspondence. Letter, J K St Joseph, 29/11/1971.
[32]SBD10569 - Bibliographic reference: Bedfordshire Archaeological Council. Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal. Vol 6, 1971, p. 87.
[33]SBD10818 - Article in serial: CBA Group 9 Newsletter. Vol 1, 1971, p. 15.
[34]SBD10902 - Bibliographic reference: P Bigmore. 1979. Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire Landscape. pl. 1.
[35]SBD10509 - Observations and Comments: Angela Simco. Comments.
[36]SBD11134 - Bibliographic reference: V H Chambers. Totternhoe Local Nature Reserve. pp. 110-111.
[37]SBD10879 - Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Record Cards. OS: SP 92 SE 9.
[38]SBD12864 - Aerial Photograph: Ashmolean Museum. Aerial Photograph.
[39]SBD10788 - Article in serial: Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable. The Manshead Magazine/Journal of the Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable. Index.
[40]SBD11135 - Bibliographic reference: Beds CC Countryside Committee. The Knolls. Leaflet.
[41]SBD10941 - Bibliographic reference: A. Mawer & F. M. Stenton. 1926. The Placenames of Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire. pp. 139-140.
[42]SBD10681 - Serial: Bedfordshire Historical Record Society. Bedfordshire Historical Record Society. Vol. 2, 1914, p. 201.
[43]SBD10614 - Bibliographic reference: Pigot and Co's Directory. 1839, p. 22.
[44]SBD10539 - Bibliographic reference: Kelly's Directory. 1854, p. 59.
[45]SBD10539 - Bibliographic reference: Kelly's Directory. 1885, p. 119.
[46]SBD10551 - Unpublished document: Bedfordshire & Luton Archives and Records Service Documents. BLARS: Minute Book of Totternhoe Board of Conservators.
[47]SBD10551 - Unpublished document: Bedfordshire & Luton Archives and Records Service Documents. BLARS: X 325/65, 66, 116, 149, 146/83, Notebooks (F. G. Gurney) - various refs.
[48]SBD11136 - Bibliographic reference: The Dunstable Year Book and Directory. 1908, pp. 25-35.
[49]SBD11137 - Bibliographic reference: The Official Guide to Dunstable and District with Local Directory. 1933, p. 29; 1937, p. 33; 1940-1941, pp. 37-39.
[50]SBD10756 - Article in serial: Associated Architectural Societies Reports. Vol 1 pt. 1, 1869, pp. 109-128, plan facing p. 124.
[51]SBD10758 - Article in serial: Luton Museum & Art Gallery Report. 1950-1954, p. 16.
[52]SBD10595 - Aerial Photograph: NMR Aerial Photograph. SP 9722/1-4.
[53]SBD10919 - Bibliographic reference: Stukeley. 1776. Itinerarium Curiosum. Centuria II, p. 17.
[54]SBD10803 - Scheduling record: English Heritage. SAM Record Form.
[55]SBD10857 - Unpublished document: Nature Conservancy Council. 1988. Biological Survey of Common Land. Beds CL16; Biological Survey of Common Land.
[56]SBD10759 - Unpublished document: South Beds District Council. 1993. Beds Wildlife Working Group Manual of Wildlife Sites & Species Protection. p. 169.
[57]SBD10881 - Plan: HER plans. Plan in PlanTank..
[58]SBD10951 - Bibliographic reference: M Dawson. 2000. Prehistoric, Roman and Post-Roman Landscapes of the Great Ouse Valley. p. 24 "The Prehistoric vegetation & environment of the River Ouse Valley".
[59]SBD10576 - Serial: Council for British Archaeology. South Midlands Archaeology. Vol 32, 2002, p. 9.
[60]SBD12524 - Archaeological Report: GSB Prospection Ltd. 2009. Totternhoe Knolls Motte and Bailey Castle, Totternhoe. 2009/04. 2009/04.
[61]SBD10775 - Unpublished document: Luton Museum. Accession Register.
[62]SBD10508 - Slide: HER Slide Archive. 2217-2225; 3109; 3463; 4018; 5142; 6655; 6689-6690.
[63]SBD11883 - Unpublished document: Department of the Environment. Ancient Monuments Record Form.
[64]SBD10507 - Photograph: Bedfordshire County Council. BCC Photographic Unit. PU23/1972.
[65]SBD10506 - Photograph: Bedfordshire County Council. HER Photograph Archive. F1273/9-10; 8/9/00.
[66]SBD10506 - Photograph: Bedfordshire County Council. HER Photograph Archive. F618/3a-4a; 13.2.1987.
[67]SBD12095 - Notes from site visit: Angela Simco. Site visit notes.
[68]SBD10680 - Newspaper Article: Leighton Buzzard Observer. Excavating Mystery; 27/5/1924, p. 5.
[69]SBD10755 - Article in serial: Bedfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society. Vol. 24, 1871, p.155.
[70]SBD10927 - Bibliographic reference: Journal of the British Archaeological Association. ns, Vol. 33, pp. 215-218.
[71]SBD10543 - Serial: Bedfordshire Magazine. Vol. 4, p. 24.
[72]SBD10649 - Aerial Photograph: 1974. Hunting Aerial Photos 1974. 4/2756.
[73]SBD10637 - Aerial Photograph: 1968. Hunting Aerial Photos 1968. 5/7982.
[74]SBD10652 - Aerial Photograph: 1976. Hunting Aerial Photos 1976. 16/1303.
[75]SBD12255 - Scheduling record: Department of the Environment. Notification of Scheduling, or an Affirmation or Revision of Scheduling.
[76]SBD10786 - Map: Ordnance Survey. 1979. Ordnance Survey 1:2500, 1979.
[77]SBD12865 - Unpublished document: 1987. Management Plan for Totternhoe Knolls.
[78]SBD12095 - Notes from site visit: Angela Simco. Site visit notes.
[79]SBD12095 - Notes from site visit: Angela Simco. Site visit notes.
[80]SBD12095 - Notes from site visit: Angela Simco. Site visit notes.
[81]SBD10740 - Verbal communication: Transcripts of comments made by individuals to members of HER staff.
[82]SBD12095 - Notes from site visit: Angela Simco. Site visit notes.
[83]SBD11860 - Unpublished document: English Heritage. General correspondence. Letter from EH to Countryside Commission.
[84]SBD12717 - Observations and Comments: Martin Oake. Site Visit Notes.
[85]SBD10792 - Unpublished document: Planning/Listed Building Application(s) Documentation. BCC/93/028.
[86]SBD12102 - Scheduling record: English Heritage. Notification of Scheduling, or an Affirmation or Revision of Scheduling. 23401 NOW SUPERCEDED.
[87]SBD10779 - Observations and Comments: Stephen R. Coleman. Comments. Comments on draft text for interpretation board.
[88]SBD10779 - Observations and Comments: Stephen R. Coleman. Comments.
[89]SBD11860 - Unpublished document: English Heritage. General correspondence. 6/9/2001.
[90]SBD12102 - Scheduling record: English Heritage. Notification of Scheduling, or an Affirmation or Revision of Scheduling. 23401; 29/9/2003.
[91]SBD11896 - Unpublished document: DCMS. Scheduled Monument Consent (consent for works to or affecting a Scheduled Monument).
[92]SBD12866 - Leaflet: Bedfordshire County Council. Totternhoe Knolls.
[93]SBD12867 - Leaflet: Bedfordshire County Council. 1989. Totternhoe Knolls: A guide to the reserve.
[94]SBD12367 - Index: NMR/AMIE. HE NRHE Monument Inventory. 346559.