Ancient Monuments

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Castle Toll Saxon burgh and medieval fort

A Scheduled Monument in Rolvenden, Kent

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Latitude: 51.0247 / 51°1'28"N

Longitude: 0.6396 / 0°38'22"E

OS Eastings: 585206.316084

OS Northings: 128352.003149

OS Grid: TQ852283

Mapcode National: GBR QWM.LK0

Mapcode Global: FRA D67D.M11

Entry Name: Castle Toll Saxon burgh and medieval fort

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 10 July 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013041

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12841

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Rolvenden

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent


The monument at Castle Toll includes two defensive sites of different dates.
The earlier of the two has been identified as a burgh, or defended
settlement, belonging to the 9th century AD. This burgh took the form of an
8 hectare enclosure on a low peninsula which was defended primarily by the
marshland of the former River Rother on three sides and by a broad bank and
ditch on the southern side. Partial excavation of this southern ditch in
1971 showed that it was not completed in its intended form but was reduced
in scale and remained unfinished. For much of its circuit, the ditch is now
visible only as a shallow depression 8-10m across, the feature having been
infilled by repeated ploughings between 1965 and 1988.
One of the documentary sources for this period, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,
describes the storming of an unfinished fort by Viking raiders in 892, and
it has been suggested that the unfinished fort was that at Castle Toll.
Set within this larger enclosure is a smaller but much stronger defensive
work some 100m square with banks up to 2.3m high and a 2m deep ditch on the
southern side. Part of the circuit of banking on the north side has again
been lost to agricultural activities but over three-quarters of the circuit
survives. A broad elevated platform of earth at the north-east corner of
this enclosure is interpreted as the site of a look-out post. Evidence
recovered during partial excavations in 1965 suggested that this was a fort
dating from the early to mid-13th century, positioned to deter French raids
up the River Rother.
The fencing within the protected area is excluded from the scheduling.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The significance of the Castle Toll monument is considerably enhanced by the
unusual superimposition of two well-preserved defensive sites which
illustrate the differing response over time to a comparable military threat.
Burghs were defended settlements which were established as part of a
widespread scheme of defence against invading Viking armies during the
reigns of King Alfred and his successors during the 9th and 10th centuries.
Some, such as the example at Castle Toll, were new foundations while others
involved the reorganisation of existing towns, such as at Winchester.
Thirty-three burghs are named in Wessex - the main concentration of such
monuments - in a document known as the Burghal Hideage. Burghs are a very
rare class of monument nationally and show a wide variety of plan and
design. They mark a significant stage in the development of the English town
(representing the first of a number of periods in which towns were created
under direct royal patronage) as well as illustrating the strategy adopted
by Alfred to combat the Vikings.
The smaller defensive site at Castle Toll illustrates the response made later
to the same need for defence of the main river channels. This enclosure is
well-documented archaeologically, having been partially excavated.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Davison, B, 'Medieval Archaeology' in The Burghal Hideage Fort of Eorpeburnan, , Vol. 16, (1972), 123-7

Source: Historic England

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