Ancient Monuments

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Anstey motte and bailey castle

A Scheduled Monument in Anstey, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 51.9776 / 51°58'39"N

Longitude: 0.0438 / 0°2'37"E

OS Eastings: 540468.478369

OS Northings: 232991.238071

OS Grid: TL404329

Mapcode National: GBR L9W.ZVY

Mapcode Global: VHHL6.QK09

Entry Name: Anstey motte and bailey castle

Scheduled Date: 10 August 1923

Last Amended: 3 September 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009453

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20650

County: Hertfordshire

Civil Parish: Anstey

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Anstey

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes a motte and bailey castle situated at the south end of a
broad spur, adjacent to the Norman church of St George's. It survives as a
large flat-topped motte which measures 75m north-south by 65m east-west and is
c.9m in height. Surrounding the motte is a waterfilled ditch 10m wide with a
5m wide causeway to the south-east. To the north and east of the motte is the
L-shaped bailey which is still surrounded on its north-western and
north-eastern sides by a dry ditch, 14m wide and 4m deep. Within the
projected area of the bailey, just east of the motte, is a square-shaped
landscaped mound 22m across and c.3.5m high. It is surrounded by a dry ditch
about 8m wide and 3m deep. Its position and shape are incongruous with the
bailey and it is considered to be a later ornamental addition.
In 1902 excavations carried out by R T Andrews on the eastern edge of the
motte summit revealed a trapezoidal foundation of flint dug c.46cm deep into
the boulder clay. Fragments of tile and 13th century pottery were also found.
The castle is attributed to Eustace, Count of Cologne, who held the manor at
Domesday. In 1218 Nicholas de Anstey was ordered to reduce his castle which
was in the king's hands in 1225.
The bungalow, paths and the swimming pool are excluded from the scheduling
although the land beneath the bungalow and paths 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.

Anstey Castle is a well-documented example of a Norman castle with historical
records dating back to the 11th century. Despite partial excavation, the
motte and bailey survive well and will retain archaeological and environmental
evidence relating to the development of the castle, the landscape in which it
was constructed and the economy of its inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Renn, D, Medieval Castles in Hertfordshire, (1971), 13
Andrews. R T, TEHAS Excavation Report, (1903)
TL 43 SW22, Information from NAR (TL 43 SW22),

Source: Historic England

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