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Saffron Walden Town Defences

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Repell Ditches, Battle Ditches; Magnum Fossatum

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

OS Map Grid Reference: TL53543814
Latitude 52.01945° Longitude 0.23481°

Saffron Walden Town Defences has been described as a certain Urban Defence.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Earthworks of Medieval or Late Saxon enclosures or town defences. The enclosed area was intensely occupied from circa 1050 to circa 1150 with a falling off in C13. Excavation in 2001 suggested rampart of ditch was probably removed in C18. The late Saxon town lay south west of the castle and the town moved to a new focus around the castle, probably in C12, and the new town originally lay in the castle's outer bailey. However as the town expanded a new large ditch enclosure was constructed, probably by Humphrey de Bohun in mid C13, this enclosure used part of the earlier Saxon defences, however, since these were then and now on the periphery of the town it is these oldest defences which still survive. (Derived from PastScape)

It seems probably there were some pre-Conquest town earthwork defences which were maintained post-Conquest. These initial defences were extended when the town expanded towards the castle on Bury Hill. The mid C13 reconstruction of the earthworks may represent an intent to increase the towns status but there does not seem to be any evidence of stonework or attempts to gain murage grants. (Compare with the development of the Clare town of Tonbridge)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:31

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