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HHER Number:27
Type of record:Monument
Name:ANSTEY CASTLE, ANSTEY

Summary

Norman motte & bailey with water-filled ditch

Images

No image caption available  © Hertfordshire County Council

No image caption available © Hertfordshire County Council

No image caption available  © Hertfordshire County Council

No image caption available © Hertfordshire County Council

Grid Reference:TL 404 329
Map Sheet:TL43SW
Parish:Anstey, East Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Monument Types

  • MOAT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1500 AD)
  • MOTTE AND BAILEY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1500 AD)

Protected Status

  • Area of Archaeological Significance 6
  • Scheduled Ancient Monument 20650: ANSTEY MOTTE AND BAILEY CASTLE
  • Sensitivity Map: anstey castle

Full description

Good example of a motte and bailey. Motte 75m x 65m and 9m high surrounded by waterfilled ditch 10m wide. Dry contiguous bailey ditch on N side of motte with average width of 14m and 4m deep. Tradition attributes the castle to Eustace, count of Bologne, holder of the manor at Domesday. In 1218 Nicholas Anstey was ordered to pull it down <1>.
Excavations in 1902 revealed flint foundations on the summit of what appears to be a natural chalk knoll. Pottery finds were of 13th century date. Roman sherds were also reported <2>, but these are described as 'many small fragments of pottery, probably Roman or Romano-British, some of which had the characteristic thumb-markings' <2>: these sound like medieval Herts Grey Ware (undecorated sherds of which are easily confused with Roman coarse ware). De-silting of the ditch in 1990 led to the emergency recording of well-preserved timbers and flint revetting on the north side of the motte <3>.
Local accounts exist of a pair of iron doors at the base of the mound, below water level. These were apparently seen c.1860, and in 1921, although not investigated; local folklore held them to be the entrance to a subterranean passage to the chalk mine at Cave Gate [4043], about a mile to the west <4>. In 1981 an attempt to find the doors by lowering the water failed <5>, but a photograph (in the Gerish Collection, Herts Archives) shows an iron-studded timber gate with a note that it was seen in 1890, when the moat was dry <5>. Behind the door was a passage into the mound, at least 71 feet (21.6m) long. (It does not head towards Cave Gate; it presumably related to the castle, or to chalk extraction.)


CUCAP, Motte and bailey, Anstey, PNO 3934 (Aerial Photograph). SHT15206.


Davys, Rev Canon, 1884, Notes on Anstey Castle; Trans St Albans Archit & Archaeol Soc for 1884, 29 (Article in serial). SHT3588.


Anon, 1902, Anstey Castle; Trans East Herts Archaeol Soc 2/1, 95-6 (Article in serial). SHT3801.


Renn, Derek, 1971, Medieval castles in Hertfordshire, - p13 (Bibliographic reference). SHT9405.


Holt, Janet, 2006, What features and sites in the early landscape could have influenced the later siting of a Norman motte and bailey castle with medieval church in close proximity? (R1780), Photos (Unpublished document). SHT16872.


<1> Page, W (ed.), 1914, VCH Hertfordshire vol.4, - p11 (Bibliographic reference). SHT3026.


<2> Andrews, R T, 1903, Anstey Castle. Excavations on the site of Anstey Castle; Trans East Herts Archaeol Soc 2/2, 114-18 (Article in serial). SHT9146.


<3> Zeepvat, R J, 1995, HAU/HAT backlog archive review: smaller sites, RNO 316; Summary (Report). SHT12953.


<4> Beamon, Sylvia P, 1976, Anstey - the Castle and Cave Gate; Subterranea Britannica Bulletin 4 (Aug 1976), 4-6 (Article in serial). SHT6118.


<5> Beamon, Sylvia P, 1982, The incidence of underground workings in medieval mottes with particular reference to Anstey Castle, Hertfordshire, England; XIIeme Symposium International d'Archaeologie Souterraine d'Auneau-Chartres, 10-12 July 1982 (Unpublished document). SHT4623.

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. Motte and bailey, Anstey. PNO 3934.
---Unpublished document: Holt, Janet. 2006. What features and sites in the early landscape could have influenced the later siting of a Norman motte and bailey castle with medieval church in close proximity? (R1780). Photos.
---Article in serial: Davys, Rev Canon. 1884. Notes on Anstey Castle; Trans St Albans Archit & Archaeol Soc for 1884, 29.
---Article in serial: Anon. 1902. Anstey Castle; Trans East Herts Archaeol Soc 2/1, 95-6.
---Bibliographic reference: Renn, Derek. 1971. Medieval castles in Hertfordshire. - p13.
<1>Bibliographic reference: Page, W (ed.). 1914. VCH Hertfordshire vol.4. - p11.
<2>Article in serial: Andrews, R T. 1903. Anstey Castle. Excavations on the site of Anstey Castle; Trans East Herts Archaeol Soc 2/2, 114-18.
<3>Report: Zeepvat, R J. 1995. HAU/HAT backlog archive review: smaller sites. archive assessment. RNO 316; Summary.
<4>Article in serial: Beamon, Sylvia P. 1976. Anstey - the Castle and Cave Gate; Subterranea Britannica Bulletin 4 (Aug 1976), 4-6.
<5>Unpublished document: Beamon, Sylvia P. 1982. The incidence of underground workings in medieval mottes with particular reference to Anstey Castle, Hertfordshire, England; XIIeme Symposium International d'Archaeologie Souterraine d'Auneau-Chartres, 10-12 July 1982.