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Stansted Castle: a ringwork and associated bailey 100m north of Elms Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex

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Latitude: 51.9028 / 51°54'9"N

Longitude: 0.2018 / 0°12'6"E

OS Eastings: 551571.360876

OS Northings: 224982.114699

OS Grid: TL515249

Mapcode National: GBR MDD.PTQ

Mapcode Global: VHHLP.GF0P

Entry Name: Stansted Castle: a ringwork and associated bailey 100m north of Elms Farm

Scheduled Date: 8 October 1923

Last Amended: 24 July 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009311

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20670

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Stansted Mountfitchet

Built-Up Area: Stansted Mountfitchet

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Stansted Mountfitchet St John

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


Stansted Mountfitchet Castle, a ringwork and associated bailey, is situated on
sloping ground immediately north of Stansted Brook. The ringwork includes a
circular platform 30m east-west by 35m north-south, which is surrounded by a
rampart 3.6m wide and about 2.6m high containing the lower courses of a flint
rubble wall. A dry ditch surrounds the rampart and has a maximum width of 20m
and is c.3m in depth. In the centre of the circular platform are traces of a
small round enclosure, 10m in diameter, which is considered to be the remains
of the keep. Projecting south from the ringwork is a short length of flint
rubble wall, 3.9m in length, 1m in width and surviving to a height of c.2.7m.
These remains are believed to indicate the presence of a defensive tower. On
the east side of the ringwork there is a 6m wide causeway in the ditch which
leads into the bailey. This measures 75m east-west by 90m north-south and is
also defended by a rampart and surrounded by a dry ditch. The rampart is
c.3.9m above the bottom of the ditch on the north-western side where it
survives best. The entrance to the bailey was on the north and is flanked by
a raising of the rampart on both sides. A scarp runs east-west across the
bailey and is believed to indicate the foundations of a wall which formerly
divided the bailey into two wards. Immediately south of the ringwork and
bailey are a series of additional earthworks which may relate to agricultural
or settlement activity in the area surrounding the castle.
The castle was built by Robert de Gernon, Duke of Boulogne, who came over with
William the Conqueror. Robert de Gernon's son and heir changed his name to
Mountfitchet which was used by his descendants. In 1203 the castle passed to
Richard II de Mountfitchet who, because still a child, became a ward of King
John and was placed in the care of Roger de Lacey, Constable of Chester.
Subsequently, in 1211, he became a ward of his mother. When Richard came of
age he joined the baronial opposition to King John which included his former
guardian, his brothers-in-law and a cousin. King John reacted swiftly, and,
in 1212, arrested two of the rebel leaders and destroyed many of his
opponents' castles. Stansted Mountfitchet was one of these. Richard died
in 1258 having regained royal favour with Henry III, but he had no heirs
and his estate was divided amongst his sisters.
Examination of trenches illicitly excavated in 1979 revealed several medieval
features along with a few pieces of pottery dating to the period of
The site has been opened to the public by the owner as a museum and
reconstructed medieval castle. Excluded from the scheduling are the buildings
and paved tracks but the ground underneath 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 or, rarely, a
stone wall. 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.
They are rare nationally with only 200 recorded examples and less than 60
with baileys. As such, and as one of a limited number and very restricted
range of Anglo-Saxon and Norman fortifications, ringworks are of particular
significance to our understanding of the period.

Stansted Mountfitchet Castle is a well-documented example of a Norman
ringwork and bailey with historical records dating from its construction in
1066 to its destruction in the early 13th century. Additionally, it has
associations with important historical figures. The earthworks remain
essentially undisturbed and will retain important archaeological evidence
pertaining to the internal layout of the castle and environmental information
relating to the economy of its inhabitants and the landscape in which they

Source: Historic England


SMR No: 4551, Information from SMR (No 4551),

Source: Historic England

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