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Canfield Castle, Great Canfield

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Castle Canfield

In the civil parish of Great Canfield.
In the historic county of Essex.
Modern Authority of Essex.
1974 county of Essex.
Medieval County of Essex.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL595179
Latitude 51.83657° Longitude 0.31345°

Canfield Castle, Great Canfield has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


On low ground close to the River Roding. Well preserved mount and bailey earthwork. Origin doubtful but possibly a castle of the de Veres, Earls of Oxford. In plan the site consists of large moated mount, a horseshoe shaped bailey on the south side and traces of a weaker enclosure on the west. The moats are fed by a small stream and could be reinforced by closing a dam. The mount is 48ft high x 280ft in diameter at base (east-west). There is a distinct berm, about 10ft wide, upon the slope but it does not run round the moat at the same level. There is no apparent entrance. On the summit is a small mound. The moat is now nearly dry and c45ft wide at the bottom, on average. The mount is thickly planted. No trace of masonry at the summit. The bailey to the south of the mount originally had a double rampart and ditch but the outer ditch has disappeared, except on the east. The inner rampart is c10ft above the interior level and 20ft above the bottom of the ditch which is 100ft wide from crest to crest. On the east, the outer rampart is 5-8ft above the ditch and 5ft above the exterior level. The outer ditch is very slight. The bailey entrance appears to have been at the north east corner. A ditch on the west side leads into the bailey moat at a higher level. Another ditch, parallel with the south wall of the churchyard, communicates with the ditch of the mount and a large pond further to the west may mark the site of the west arm of the enclosure. Bank previously shown to the east of the keep on the far side of the stream has been ploughed out and is only traceable by a small elevation across the field and slight soil discolouration. The weak ditch on the west side has been ploughed out and is only represented by a slight longitudinal hollow and light soil discolouration. The counterscarp outside the bank on the south east side of the stream has been obliterated. The moat on the south west side of the bailey is now permanently dry. The only wet parts are those occupied by the active stream bed. Sited on the edge of the floodplain on gentle rising ground. The motte is tree planted and has later, concentric landscaped terraces and a mound on the level summit which may be modern. Bailey bank and enclosure under scrub and light forestation. The moat is dry and its course is well-defined. The external ditch on the east side is largely ploughed out. Around the hall to the west are fragmentary remains of a probable homestead moat, contiguous to the motte and bailey moat. Traces of an enclosure to the north enclosing the parish church. In 1086 Aubrey de Vere held 2 hides as tenant-in-chief and 2 and a half hides as tenant of Alan of Brittany. The castle was owned by the de Veres for many years. Mentioned in 1214. (Unlocking Essex's Past)

Considered, as an alternative to Clavering, as the preconquest 'Robert's Castle' recorded in 1052. Renn (1959) writes sited here from earlier position uphill 900 yard away. It is unclear what this supposed earlier site was and there seems no evidence to suggest this is not the original site of the castle.
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This record last updated 22/08/2017 09:21:09

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