Ancient Monuments

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Motte castle known as Dane's Camp 400m south of Hampden House

A Scheduled Monument in Great and Little Hampden, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.7107 / 51°42'38"N

Longitude: -0.7748 / 0°46'29"W

OS Eastings: 484751.228054

OS Northings: 202038.175735

OS Grid: SP847020

Mapcode National: GBR D44.NY6

Mapcode Global: VHDVR.J88F

Entry Name: Motte castle known as Dane's Camp 400m south of Hampden House

Scheduled Date: 20 October 1971

Last Amended: 25 January 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013956

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27132

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Great and Little Hampden

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Great Hampden

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The motte castle known as Dane's Camp lies to the north of the village of
Great Hampden and some 400m south of Hampden House.

The castle occupies a commanding position overlooking lower ground to the
north west and the former line of the Grim's Ditch, now overlain by the St
Mary Magdalen's Church and the grounds of Hampden House. The monument includes
a large, steep-sided circular mound (or motte), approximately 20m in diameter
and 2.5m high, surmounted by a level platform measuring 10m across. The motte
is surrounded by a dry ditch, averaging 4m in width and 1m deep, which is
broken by narrow causeways to the north west and south east. The north western
causeway merges with a slight ramp ascending the motte, and is thought to be
the original entrance. The second causeway, with no ramp evident, is
considered to be a later addition, perhaps reflecting the mound's later use as
an ornamental feature within the grounds of Hampden House. The motte would
originally have supported a tower, probably built in timber. A small
depression in the centre of the platform marks the location of a limited
excavation in 1855, which consisted of a single, narrow shaft. Additional
defence may have been provided by a palisade surrounding the ditch and a gate
controlling the entrance.

The motte is thought to have been a temporary fortification, serving as a base
for operations of limited duration in the early stages of the Norman Conquest.
Place-name evidence from the surrounding field and adjacent copse suggests
that a windmill may later have stood upon the mound. This is not, however,
corroborated by physical evidence, and the buried remains of the original
tower's foundations are expected to survive largely undisturbed.

All fences and fence posts are excluded from the scheduling although the
ground beneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Motte 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-bai1ey 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 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
and motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from
most regions. Some 100-150 examples do not have baileys and are classified as
motte castles. 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.

Dane's Camp is a very well preserved example of an early medieval motte
castle. The mound will retain buried evidence for the structures which stood
on the summit, and the silts within the surrounding ditch will contain both
artefacts and environmental evidence relating to the limited period of
occupation. The old ground surface buried beneath the mound is particularly
significant as it may retain evidence of former land use, which will have been
degraded elsewhere by more recent cultivation. The strategic position of the
castle provides an illustration of the methods by which control of the area
was established in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Burgess, B, 'Records of Bucks' in Earthworks at Hampden and Little Kimble, , Vol. 1, (1859), 138-9
Dyer, J F, 'Archaeological Journal' in Barrows of the Chilterns, , Vol. 116, (1959), 16
Renn, D F, 'Antiquity' in Mottes - A Classification, , Vol. XXXIII, (1959), 111
Notes: A Pike. Correspondance: D Renn, 0012,
place-names on estate maps, Long, H, Dane's Camp, (1995)
RCHM(E), An Inventory of Historic Monuments in Buckinghamshire, (1912)

Source: Historic England

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