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Name:Castlethorpe Castle / Hanslope Castle
HER Number:MMK653
Type of record:Monument
Grid Reference:SP 798 445
Map Sheet:SP74SE
Location:Castlethorpe, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Summary

Extensive earthworks of a motte and bailey castle partially masked by later garden earthworks. Castle probable built by de Maudit family and besieged circa 1215

Monument Types

  • MOTTE AND BAILEY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Events

  • Laverock, North Street
  • Castlethorpe Fish Ponds
  • Castlethorpe fishpond site: EMEB works

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument 1011299: Castlethorpe Castle: a motte and bailey, possible ringwork and associated earthworks 200m south-east of Castlethorpe Lodge

Full description

1) Motte & 2 baileys. Outworks W & SW of motte. Remains of rectangular enclosure? Defences consist of bank & ditch, with 2 entrances on W side (b5).
2) Ring- work partly scraped into a motte adjoining Church. Earthworks further S & W are probably remodelling after 1292 licence to crenellate (b6).
3) Scheduled (b9). (BCC notes)
4) The monument which falls into two areas, includes Castlethorpe Castle, a motte and bailey castle with possible re-used ringwork, a second bailey, enclosure and fishponds. It is believed that the site was fortified by William Maudit some time in the twelfth century and that it served as the stronghold for the barony of Hanslope. In 1217 the castle was garrisoned against the crown and laid siege to by Folkes de Brent ( or Breaute?) on behalf of the King. The castle was taken by de Brent and is thought to have been slighted so that it could no longer be used as a military stronghold. Subsequently, in 1292, William Beauchamp obtained a licence from the crown to fortify a house and garden at Castlethorpe and, although the exact location of this house is uncertain, it is thought to have been the vicinity of the earlier castle.

Today Castlethorpe Castle survives as a complicated system of earthworks which extend over an area of some 10 hectares. The motte and bailey itself, the earliest part of the works, lies immediately north-west of the church, occupying a naturally strong strategic position overlooking the valley of the River Tove. The motte lies in the southern quarter of the bailey and has the general appearance of having being disturbed or slighted at some time in the past. It survives as a substantial earthen mound, oval in plan, and with dimensions of 40m WNW by ESE and 27m transversely. Rising 4m from the interior of the bailey on the north side to a narrow summit 8m by 4m, it falls 2.1m on the south side to a platform with dimensions of 7m E to W by 5m N to S. The platform is slightly hollowed to a depth of 0.3m and could represent the foundations cut for a tower, though no surface remains now survive. This hollow may alternatively relate to a second World War gun position that is said to have been dug into the motte. The surrounding bailey is roughly circular in shape with an interior diameter of 100m. It remains well defined and intact throughout most of its extent, with the exception of SE quarter. Here the church and churchyard encroach into the site and have destroyed any surface traces of earthworks. Where the bailey defences do survive as earthworks they are of considerable strength. In the SW they utilise the natural hillside to maximum effect, the bailey scarp, possibly artificially steepened, rising to a height of 6m from the bottom of the outer ditch which is over 6m wide and 2m deep. Around the western quarter, the defences comprise a substantial ditch 18m wide and up to 3.4 m deep on its inner slope, 2.6m on its outer, This is flanked by an outer counterscarp bank up to 1.7m high. Two causewayed entrances cross the ditch in this western area; both are some 4m wide and of similar appearance, and although it is unlikely that both are original, it is impossible from surface inspection to say which is the earlier. The ditch continues around the north of the enclosure and is of similar proportions, though the outer bank ends 60m east of the northern entrance gap. Towards the eastern end of the ditch a bank 1.7m high surmounts the inner slope of the ditch running for some 50m before ending in the boundary of the churchyard. The interior of the bailey is generally flat, though with discreet surface irregularities which indicate possible building foundations, Linear undulations and shallow hollows to the north-east of the bailey represent the remains of a field system and subsidiary buildings.

The considerable strength of the bailey defences in relation to the less impressive motte gives defence emphasis to the bailey. This may indicate an initial earthwork phase with a motte added at a later date.

To the west of the motte and bailey castle, at a distance of some 50m, is a linear earthwork orientated NE to SW, and running for a total length of 220m. This appears to be designed as an outer defence to the main earthworks, creating a second outer bailey. The southern portion of this earthwork comprises a substantial rampart averaging 14m wide and 2.2m high, with an outer ditch along its western side 5m wide and 1.5m deep. For some 60m from its south end the east edge of the rampart has been cut back and revetted to form the western boundary of a sunken garden, The remaining northern 80m ends in a mound which has been interpreted as a barbican mound, designed to protect an entrance which passes through the outer work at this point. The outer ditch of the work continues north beyond the entrance gap, running out after some 70m. A slight bank and scarp links at right angles from this line of ditch to the outer bank of the inner bailey. If the southern end of the rampart also once linked to the inner bailey, suggested by a slight east turning at this end, then it would have formed a rectangular outer enclosure some 200m long by 60m wide. However, the modern road and railway line which cut across this area NW to SE have destroyed any earthwork surface indications which may have existed in this area.

To the SW of the railway line are the fragmentary remains of another earthwork, They comprise a bank averaging 16m wide and 2,1m high with an outer ditch 4m wide and 0,4m deep, It runs for 120m NW to SE before turning north for 80m and appears to represent the south-western corner of a rectangular enclosure, the northern portions of which have been destroyed by the construction of the railway cutting, This may have formerly connected to the linear earthwork on the north side of the railway line. However, their respective alignments differ, suggesting that they are separate works. In the interior of this enclosure, in close proximity to the railway boundary, is a T- shaped section of bank 1m high. This has been interpreted as the remains of two rectangular fish ponds. It is possible that these now fragmentary earthworks represent all that survives of the house and garden constructed by William Beauchamp in 1292 (EH scheduling notes)


B Giggins - Chronology of Grafton Regis (Document). SMK4638.


SAM Correspondence file PS/537/2/4 (Correspondence). SMK4667.


<01> LYSONS D & S 1813 MAGNA BRITANNIA P533 (Document). SMK858.


<02> LIPSCOMB 4 P89 (Document). SMK859.


<03> PARKER J H 1859 DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE PT2 (APPENDI X SUMMARISING PATENT ROLLS) (Document). SMK860.


<04> VCH BUCKS 4 PP348-50 (Bibliographic reference). SMK861.


<05> RCHM BUCKS 2 PP80-82 (Document). SMK862.


<06> RENN D F 1968 NORMAN CASTLES IN BRITAIN P200 (Document). SMK863.


<07> BCM ACCESSIONS REGISTER,1963 (Document). SMK2908.


<08> OS RECORD CARD,SP74 SE1 (NOT RETAINED) (Document). SMK864.


<09> SCHEDULING LISTS OF INSPECTORATE OF ANCIENT MONUMENTS APRIL 1950/ENGLISH HERITAGE NOVEMBER 1992 (Document). SMK865.


<10> MR WEST (11 SOUTH STREET, CASTLETHORPE) TO FARLEY M E (BCM) 1975 (Document). SMK866.


<11> D BONNER 1995 ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS AT THE MEDIEVAL EARTHWORKS AT CASTLETHORPE (BCMAS REPORT NO. 362, FILED) (Document). SMK4137.

Sources and further reading

---SMK4638 - Document: B Giggins - Chronology of Grafton Regis.
---SMK4667 - Correspondence: SAM Correspondence file PS/537/2/4.
<01>SMK858 - Document: LYSONS D & S 1813 MAGNA BRITANNIA P533.
<02>SMK859 - Document: LIPSCOMB 4 P89.
<03>SMK860 - Document: PARKER J H 1859 DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE PT2 (APPENDI X SUMMARISING PATENT ROLLS).
<04>SMK861 - Bibliographic reference: VCH BUCKS 4 PP348-50.
<05>SMK862 - Document: RCHM BUCKS 2 PP80-82.
<06>SMK863 - Document: RENN D F 1968 NORMAN CASTLES IN BRITAIN P200.
<07>SMK2908 - Document: BCM ACCESSIONS REGISTER,1963.
<08>SMK864 - Document: OS RECORD CARD,SP74 SE1 (NOT RETAINED).
<09>SMK865 - Document: SCHEDULING LISTS OF INSPECTORATE OF ANCIENT MONUMENTS APRIL 1950/ENGLISH HERITAGE NOVEMBER 1992.
<10>SMK866 - Document: MR WEST (11 SOUTH STREET, CASTLETHORPE) TO FARLEY M E (BCM) 1975.
<11>SMK4137 - Document: D BONNER 1995 ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS AT THE MEDIEVAL EARTHWORKS AT CASTLETHORPE (BCMAS REPORT NO. 362, FILED).

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MMK5647Parent of: 7c North Street (Monument)
MMK5648Parent of: 7c North Street (Monument)
MMK654Parent of: Castlethorpe Castle (Find Spot)
MMK5246Parent of: Castlethorpe Castle (Monument)
MMK5247Parent of: Castlethorpe Castle (Monument)
MMK5248Parent of: Castlethorpe Castle (Monument)
MMK5249Parent of: Castlethorpe Castle (Monument)
MMK5534Parent of: Castlethorpe Castle (Monument)
MMK656Parent of: Castlethorpe Castle (Monument)
MMK657Parent of: Castlethorpe Castle (Monument)
MMK660Parent of: Castlethorpe Castle (Monument)
MMK655Parent of: Castlethorpe Castle (Place)
MMK659Parent of: Castlethorpe Castle (Place)
MMK658Parent of: Castlethorpe Castle fishponds (Monument)