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Motte and bailey castle and associated earthworks 100m south of Tuthill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Therfield, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 52.0169 / 52°1'0"N

Longitude: -0.0586 / 0°3'31"W

OS Eastings: 533319.601304

OS Northings: 237168.317872

OS Grid: TL333371

Mapcode National: GBR K81.J0Q

Mapcode Global: VHGNH.XKWP

Entry Name: Motte and bailey castle and associated earthworks 100m south of Tuthill Farm

Scheduled Date: 18 September 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009245

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20672

County: Hertfordshire

Civil Parish: Therfield

Built-Up Area: Therfield

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Therfield

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


Tuthill motte and bailey castle is situated 50m north-west of St Mary's Church
in Therfield. The monument includes a small motte, 14m in diameter at its
base, 8m in diameter at its top and c.1.5m in height. The motte is surrounded
by a ditch which has a maximum width of 5m and is 1m deep. The bailey which
is situated to the south of the motte, is defined by a ditch and slight bank
which survives as earthworks to the south and south-west. The bank
measures 2.5m in width and c.0.4m in height whilst the ditch varies between 5m
and 7m in width and has a maximum depth of 1m. These earthworks appear to
continue westwards into the graveyard. Additional amorphous earthworks are
visible north of the motte and are considered to be continuations of the
castle defences. Directly south of the motte, within the area of the bailey,
is a waterfilled fishpond, which measures 68m east-west by 10m north-south and
may be contemporary with the rest of the monument.
Excavations carried out in 1958 by M.Biddle confirmed the site as a mid 12th
century motte and bailey with a probable contemporary village enclosure.
Evidence from the northern part of the bailey showed that the enclosure was
pallisaded. The castle fell into disuse early in the 13th century. However,
in the area covered by the 12th century castle, an earlier Saxo-Norman
occupation layer was found. This phase of occupation can be dated by pottery
from 1050 to 1100. The site was then abandoned until the castle was built.
The tennis courts and fences are all excluded from the scheduling although the
ground beneath them is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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 examples 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.

Despite some levelling, Tuthill motte and bailey castle is comparatively well-
preserved and is unusual in that it has produced evidence for earlier
occupation. Limited excavations have increased knowledge about the site and
confirmed the survival of further remains containing important archaeological
and environmental evidence. Archaeological remains will survive throughout
the site but may be particularly significant in the areas of the bailey and
village enclosure where evidence for the length and nature of occupation may
survive. Environmental evidence will survive largely in the fills of the
ditch and fishpond and may provide evidence for the economy of the site's
inhabitants and the landscape in which they lived.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Biddle, M, 'Journal for British Archaeological Association' in Excavation Report, , Vol. 28, (1964)
Information from SMR (NO 0067),

Source: Historic England

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