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Eynsford Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Eynsford, Kent

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.3705 / 51°22'13"N

Longitude: 0.2133 / 0°12'47"E

OS Eastings: 554158.518085

OS Northings: 165818.516074

OS Grid: TQ541658

Mapcode National: GBR TT.JFF

Mapcode Global: VHHP6.NT47

Entry Name: Eynsford Castle

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1934

Last Amended: 27 June 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007462

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23024

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Eynsford

Built-Up Area: Eynsford

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Eynsford St Martin

Church of England Diocese: Rochester

Details

The monument includes an enclosure castle situated on the east bank of the
River Darent, the valley of which cuts through an area of gently undulating
chalk downland.
The castle has an inner ward constructed on a low oval platform, enclosed by a
curtain wall with a moat to the north, east and south.
The central platform on which the castle buildings were constructed is c.2m
above the surrounding ground level and measures 61m north-south and 40m
east-west. The curtain wall survives as upstanding masonry c.8.8m high,
constructed of coursed flintwork c.1.8m thick at the base. The north west
segment has collapsed but remains where it fell.
Within the ward are the ruined remains and buried foundations of a 12th-
century hall block, the undercrofts of which still survive. This was a free-
standing building, 22m east-west by 13m north-south, in the northern half of
the ward and was mainly constructed from reused Roman tile probably brought
from Lullingstone or Farningham. A stair and porch were built on the south
side of the building and a later kitchen was constructed between the hall and
the curtain wall to the north. The 12th-century kitchen was located in the
west corner of the ward and a gate-tower was situated on the south east side
at the main entrance to the castle.
To the north, east and south of the curtain wall lies the moat which, although
having become partially infilled over the years, is visible as an earthwork
feature up to 16m wide and 1.5m deep. To the west the castle was protected by
the river. Access to the castle was gained by way of a bridge leading across
the moat in the south east to the gate-tower.
The curtain wall is believed to have been constructed c.1090 by William de
Eynsford, possibly on the site of an earlier earthwork castle with a timber
watch-tower. Although such a site is not mentioned in the Domesday Book,
traces of a central wooden building, contemporary with the early phase of the
curtain wall, have been discovered during excavations. The hall, gate-tower
and heightened curtain wall are ascribed to William II in c.1130, with the
reconstructed hall and new kitchens dating to c.1230. Documentary evidence
records a complaint about the doors and windows of the castle having been
broken down, damage committed and stock let loose. This resulted in the
dismantling of the structures inside the curtain wall in or just before 1312.
Partial excavation took place in 1835 and further excavations were carried out
between 1953 and 1971 during the conservation of the monument. These revealed
the internal structure and accommodation areas within the curtain wall as well
as confirming the 14th-century destruction of the castle.
Excluded from the scheduling are the modern buildings, works sheds, rubbish
bins, wooden benches, paving, wooden bridge and fencing, although the ground
beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

An enclosure castle is a defended residence or stronghold, built mainly of
stone, in which the principal or sole defence comprises the walls and towers
bounding the site. Some form of keep may have stood within the enclosure but
this was not significant in defensive terms and served mainly to provide
accommodation. Larger sites might have more than one line of walling and there
are normally mural towers and gatehouses. Outside the walls a ditch, either
waterfilled or dry, crossed by bridges may be found. The first enclosure
castles were constructed at the time of the Norman Conquest. However, they
developed considerably in form during the 12th century when defensive
experience gained during the Crusades was applied to their design. The
majority of examples were constructed in the 13th century although a few were
built as late as the 14th century. Some represent reconstructions of earlier
medieval earthwork castles of the motte and bailey type, although others were
new creations. They provided strongly defended residences for the king or
leading families and occur in both urban and rural situations. Enclosure
castles are widely dispersed throughout England, with a slight concentration
in Kent and Sussex supporting a vulnerable coast, and a strong concentration
along the Welsh border where some of the best examples were built under Edward
I. They are rare nationally with only 126 recorded examples. Considerable
diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With
other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to
the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative
centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles
generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a
valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and
defence and with respect to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples
retaining significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally
important.

Eynsford Castle survives well, having remained almost completely undisturbed
since its partial destruction in the 14th century. The site is unusual in
being an early example of an enclosure castle as well as being of a rare form.
Partial excavation has demonstrated that the site contains archaeological
remains and environmental evidence which relate to the construction, use and
eventual destruction of the castle as well as giving an insight into the
economy and way of life of its inhabitants.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Rigold, S E, 'Archaeologia Cantiana' in Eynsford Castle and its excavation, , Vol. 86, (1971), 109-171
Other
Ordnance Survey, TQ 56 NW 11, (1964)

Source: Historic England

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