Ancient Monuments

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Great Wymondley Castle: a motte and bailey castle and associated manorial enclosure 20m east of St Mary's Church, Great Wymondley

A Scheduled Monument in Wymondley, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 51.9418 / 51°56'30"N

Longitude: -0.233 / 0°13'58"W

OS Eastings: 521558.905924

OS Northings: 228506.957382

OS Grid: TL215285

Mapcode National: GBR J7G.7XN

Mapcode Global: VHGNS.XG68

Entry Name: Great Wymondley Castle: a motte and bailey castle and associated manorial enclosure 20m east of St Mary's Church, Great Wymondley

Scheduled Date: 10 August 1923

Last Amended: 15 July 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010761

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20637

County: Hertfordshire

Civil Parish: Wymondley

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Great Wymondley

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes Great Wymondley Castle, a motte and bailey castle,
situated on level ground on the floodplain of the River Purwell. It comprises
a large rectangular enclosure in the south-west corner of which there is a
small moated motte and bailey. The motte measures c.2.5m in height by 28m in
diameter at its base. The bailey, located south of the motte, is orientated NE
to SW and measures about 25m by 28m. Surrounding the motte and bailey is a
moat, now dry, which is c.2m in depth and c.10m in maximum width. The outer
enclosure, which is considered to be manorial in origin, is marked by a bank
and ditch extending from the moated motte and bailey. It is rectangular in
shape and encloses an area c.175m north-south by c.100m east-west. The small
cross ditch dividing the large enclosure is a modern field boundary.
The site was partially excavated in 1882 when both Roman and medieval pottery
were discovered.
Excluded from the scheduling are the houses, paths, driveways and sheds. The
ground beneath these features is, however, 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.

Great Wymondley Castle is a well-preserved example of a motte and bailey
castle. It is unusual in its close association with a manorial enclosure,
within which occupation evidence, integral to a full understanding of the
monument, will survive.
The monument will contain archaeological remains relating to the internal
layout of the site and the economy of its inhabitants as well as environmental
evidence relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed.

Source: Historic England


Information from Field Warden Report (Great Wymondley Castle),
Information from SMR (Great Wymondley Castle),

Source: Historic England

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