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Purleigh Mount

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

OS Map Grid Reference: TL84080171
Latitude 51.68398° Longitude 0.66122°

Purleigh Mount has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Purleigh Mount is a small motte - overall some 80m in diameter - situated at the southern end of a short ridge overlooking the Dengie peninsula. There is no indication of there ever having been an accompanying bailey; the two 'rampart spurs' noted by RCHME on the N side of the motte appear to be natural features. The motte has a flat, somewhat oval, top, approximately 30m by 40m and survives to a maximum height of 2.3m above the silted bottom of its encircling ditch. An outer bank, lower than the central mound, is best preserved on the W. Elsewhere this bank lies generally outside the scheduled area and has been destroyed to varying degrees; in the S it is still being eroded by continuing arable cultivation. Around the N of the motte the bank may possibly have been lost to surface gravel quarrying at some time past, and in the NE a building platform has truncated its line. There are two 'modern' breaks through the bank in the SSE and SWW, the latter possibly being to allow cattle access to the moat to water from an old road that ran up to and to the N of the monument from Howegreen in the W. What is probably the original entrance to the motte survives in the NW of the site as a broad break in the outer bank. Since the ditch is continuous, access on to the mound itself was presumably via a wooden causeway or drawbridge. Although the motte is situated on top of a ridge, it seems likely that ground seepage may have kept the ditch waterfilled; very shallow water lay in the SE arc at the time of survey, whilst a pond close to Purleigh Hall only a short distance to the N retains water all year round. The modern disturbance on the top of the motte is the result of the construction here during the Second World War of a home guard shelter. Although recently filled in the entrance is still discernible as a trench-like affair on the W side of the mound, and debris is widely scattered. A small hole on the E side of the motte is to be equated with a tree hole from which C13 pottery was recovered in 1983. (PastScape Field Investigators Comments–F1 HMJ 14-JUL-87)

Moated, flat-topped mound surrounded by ditch with strong counterscarp rampart, except on the north side. Slight indications of two short lengths of rampart extending towards the north. Suggested to be small castle with bailey to the west. Mound, c60m in diameter, c2m high, with surrounding bank. Possibly a causeway to the north. Surveyed in 1981. Removal of a tree from the north-east quadrant of the mound revealed medieval pottery. Site visit showed this came from a shallow trench that could represent a backfilled palisade slot. A rim sherd was found from the mound edge in the north-west quadrant and a sagging base from a mole hill on the west counterscarp. All the pottery was tempered with medium sand and quartz, some mica and black flecks. Two Roman tile fragments, six oyster shells and burnt flint nodules and apparently burnt mudstone fragments were also found. The burning is likely to be recent. The pottery is comparable to, though not precisely paralleled, Mile End material spanning the late C12-mid/late C13. The earliest published theory is that this was a British (ie iron age) earthwork. Later it was suggested to be a Danish or Saxon motte, or a 'moot hill'. Suggested to be a motte with attached bailey constructed during the anarchy, 1135-53. Possibly demolished in early C13 after a change of ownership in 1233. (Unlocking Essex's Past)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:30

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