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Portingbury Hills

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Beggarshall Coppice

In the civil parish of Hatfield Broad Oak.
In the historic county of Essex.
Modern Authority of Essex.
1974 county of Essex.
Medieval County of Essex.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL53222040
Latitude 51.86147° Longitude 0.22411°

Portingbury Hills has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Possible Castles:- Hatfield Broad Oak (Portingbury Hills) TL534204. Low squarish mound. (King 1983)

Portingbury Hills. A low, nearly square mound, about 100ft in diameter and 5ft high, surrounded by shallow ditch. Unclassified (RCHME 1921).
An earthwork consisting of an oval-shaped, flat topped mound, 34.0m long, 22.0m wide and 0.9m high, surrounded by a ditch 10.0m wide and 0.6m deep.
On the top of the mound there is an eccentric, roughly circular, depression approximately 16.0m in diameter and 0.6m deep.
Adjoining the mound on the E side there is a small irregular shaped area, approx 40m long and 14.5m wide, enclosed by a ditch approximately 3.5m wide and 0.5m deep. On the OS 6" Edn of 1923 a large, rectangular, entrenched enclosure is shown to exist on the E side of the features described above. This consists of a shallow ditch, approximately 8.0m wide and 0.3m deep, along the centre of which drainage trench has been cut in recent years. There is some doubt whether this large enclosure does actually form part of the original work although this would be difficult to decide without actual excavation (F1 JET 04-MAR-50).
Trial excavations were carried out in 1964 and 1965 by the West Essex Archaeological Group. A few sherds of IA/RB type pottery and animal bones were found. It was tentatively concluded that the work was non-defensive and of post Iron Age date.
Portingbury Hills (name confirmed). Description of 4 3 50 and survey revision of 22 4 66 correct. The earthworks centred TL53262004 appear to post-date the enclosure centred TL53382042 which forms part of a wider complex of coppice and woodland boundaries of probable Md date (F3 PAS 01-MAY-75).
Trial excavations at Portingbury in 1964-5 showed that the western mound probably consisted of an enclosure with a timber-strengthened or box constructed rampart of boulder clay originally about 13ft wide and 10ft high. It survives today (Trench A) as a bank about 3ft high, 15ft wide at base and 9ft across the top. A berm separated it from a U-shaped ditch now about 14ft wide and 6ft deep. Typically Iron Age sherds were recovered, one under the bank and three under the collapsed rampart material in the ditch. Trench B was cut across a V-shaped ditch 8ft wide and 3ft deep. Nothing conclusive was found in trench C. (Wilkinson 1978; Huggins 1978). (PastScape)

Isolated from settlement. Seems to be generally accepted as Iron Age on very slight dating evidence, would be a very unusual form for a medieval castle but some form of 'hunting lodge' must remain an outside possibility.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:31

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