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Suncastre

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Pandal Wood; Pandole Wood; Surecastre

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

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ964996
Latitude 51.66090° Longitude 0.83853°

Suncastre has been described as a Timber Castle but is rejected as such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.

Description

An earthwork in Pandal Wood (Pandole Wood at TQ 962996) is identified by Laver with "Suncastre" mentioned in a fine of 1206-7. It consists of a single bank roughly ten feet in height enclosing a pentagonal area, with the remains of a ditch on its south side about fifteen feet wide and another on its east side twenty to thirty feet wide. There are gaps in the bank at the northeast and southeast corners but only the former appears to be original. This gap is forty feet wide. A low bank leads from it in a northeasterly direction to a well-marked bank about twenty-four feet wide running eastwards which now forms the north side of the meadow east of Pandal Wood. A mound integral with the south bank rises to a height of nearly fourteen feet and within the enclosure there is another mound twenty-four feet in diameter and eight feet in height. Laver suggests that the earthwork is of Viking origin and likens its motte-like features to the earthwork at Asheldham (TL 90 SE 6 : a possibly Iron Age defended settlement). (PastScape)

Laver describes the earthwork as pentagonal in shape, with sides of unequal length. c.69ft from the E end of the S bank is a mound bulging from the main line of the earthwork, circular, 20ft in diameter, and rising over 4ft above the general level of the bank. Lengths of sides measured as: S bank - 293ft, W bank - 233ft, N bank - 379ft and E bank - 320ft with a break in direction. The only definite opening is in the NE corner where there is a 40ft wide gap between the north and east banks. A low bank leading NE from here may represent the line of a Roman road. A second, probably modern, opening lies in the SE corner. Within the camp there is one circular mound c.180ft N of the S bank, of maximum height 8ft and 24ft in diameter at the top. There is no evidence of a surrounding ditch - probably due to ground disturbance. Laver thought the site to be of Viking date. Earthworks in the wood comprise a roughly rectangular bank up to 5ft high with traces of an outer ditch and gaps in the NE and SE corners. Outside the N side is another earthwork which appears to align with a well preserved bank in the field to the E and which appears to be an agger. "The rectangular earthworks in the wood may be Iron Age in origin but the site is identified as 'Surecastre' of the feet of fines in preference to Asheldham Camp nearby". (Unlocking Essex's Past ref–Scheduling record)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated before 1 February 2016

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