Ancient Monuments

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Queenborough Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Queenborough, Kent

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Latitude: 51.4162 / 51°24'58"N

Longitude: 0.7487 / 0°44'55"E

OS Eastings: 591226.754392

OS Northings: 172157.583841

OS Grid: TQ912721

Mapcode National: GBR RSF.432

Mapcode Global: VHKJ6.XNNQ

Entry Name: Queenborough Castle

Scheduled Date: 30 January 1962

Last Amended: 8 July 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007465

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23030

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Queenborough

Built-Up Area: Queenborough

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent


The monument includes an enclosure castle situated on low lying land on the
north bank of The Creek, near the west coast of the Isle of Sheppey. The
castle survives as a low circular earthwork mound, c.100m in diameter and 1.5m
high, surrounded by the partially infilled remains of a moat. This is visible
to the north and south of the mound as an earthwork up to 0.6m deep and
between 12m and 18m wide. To the east, the outer edge of the moat has been cut
away by the construction of the railway line and to the west it has been
completely infilled but survives as a buried feature.

The early history of the castle is well documented, having been built by
Edward III `for the defence of the realm and for the refuge of the inhabitants
of the island' and named after Philippa, his queen. Its construction was
started in 1361 and continued until 1369 with final touches, such as the outer
gates, being finished between 1373 and 1375.

The plan of the masonry structure is known from an Elizabethan manuscript and
comprised a central well within a small, circular inner ward, c.18m in
diameter, surrounded by a circular keep, 40m in diameter, with six outer
circular towers. Beyond this was the outer ward, enclosed by a circular
curtain wall with a main gate to the west and a small postern gate to the
east. Pairs of high walls connected the main gate with the western face of the
keep and the postern with the keep's gate. Each of these walls had a gateway
in it. The moat then ran around the curtain wall and was crossed by two
drawbridges at the gateways. In 1382 six of the towers collapsed owing to an
earthquake and were rebuilt by Richard II. Various alterations and repairs
were carried out until 1650, when the castle was declared obsolete by the
Parliamentary Commissioners. The structure was demolished soon after. The well
was reopened and deepened in 1725 and was retained in use until the 20th
century with a second well sunk next to the first in 1868.

In 1991 two shallow trenches were excavated in the north west corner of the
site which located a cut likely to be the robber-trench where the stones of
the outer curtain wall were removed after demolition.

Excluded from the scheduling are the bus shelter, fences, brick walls, car
park surface, standing buildings, tarmac road surface, pavement, rubbish bins
and streetlamps, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Ringworks are medieval fortifications built and occupied from the late Anglo-
Saxon period to the later 12th century. They comprised a small defended area
containing buildings which was surrounded or partly surrounded by a
substantial ditch and a bank surmounted by a timber palisade. Occasionally a
more lightly defended embanked enclosure, the bailey, adjoined the ringwork.
Ringworks acted as strongholds for military operations and in some cases as
defended aristocratic or manorial settlements. Between the Norman Conquest and
the mid-13th century, mainly during the 12th century, a number of motte and
bailey castles and ringworks were remodelled in stone. In the case of
ringworks, this could involve the replacement of the timber palisade
surmounting the defensive bank with a thick stone wall to form a "shell keep".
With only 200 examples recorded in England, ringworks are rare nationally and
shell keeps constructed on ringworks are particularly rare with only 8
examples known to have been converted in this way. As one of a limited number
and very restricted range of Norman fortifications, ringworks are of
particular significance to our understanding of the period.

Despite demolition of the above ground stonework in the 17th century and the
construction of a pumping station, the site of Queenborough Castle survives
comparatively well with buried features remaining largely undisturbed. It is
the earliest example of a concentric circular castle in the country and is
possibly the only royal castle to be constructed in the late medieval period.
Partial excavation has demonstrated that the monument contains both
archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument's
construction, use and demolition.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Colvin, H M, The History of the King's Works, (1963), 793-804
Daly, A A, History of the Isle of Sheppey, (1904), 85
Pratt, S, Queenborough Castle: Report on Evaluation Trenches, (1991)
'Kelley's Kent Directory' in Kelley's Kent Directory, (1938), 606
Clapham, AW, Queenborough Castle and its builder William of Wykeham, Some famous buildings and their story, technical journals, (1913)

Source: Historic England

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