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Plash Wood, Arkesden

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

OS Map Grid Reference: TL485347
Latitude 51.99142° Longitude 0.16241°

Plash Wood, Arkesden has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


Originally a small mound with bailey surrounded by an outer ditch. The earthwork was situated on a clay ridge but was bulldozed about 20 years ago {c. 1955}, Plash Wood deforested and the whole area ploughed. It survives as an amorphous swelling containing lighter sub soil and flint c. 0.4m high. Its original size and shape is no longer recognisable on the ground. OS 1975 - rom examination of the plan and the OS AP,S the earthwork does not resemble the classic motte and bailey plan of circle and appended oval. It is similar in many respects to the ditched enclosures "The Rookery" and "The Crump". According to the farmer who destroyed the site no finds were made .
An article on the levelling of Plash Wood refers to a debate as to whether the RCHME should schedule the site.
A rescue excavation was carried out in the "teeth of destruction" by S. Rigold. (Essex HER)

The 'mound' (actually may have been a ringwork), and the wood it was in, are gone, although the cropmark does show on APs. 350m NE of parish church of St Mary the Virgin.
Not in the RCHME Essex Inventory which may explain why it has been missed by the usual castle studies authorities.
What was the result of Rigold's excavation?
The comparison is made with The Rookery and The Crump ringwork sites in Berden 5km to the South. The Rookery has a very similar recent history and exists now only as a very similar cropmark but The Crump does survive fairly well. None of these sites are really classic as Norman earthwork castles and may be better considered as early moated manor house sites. There were 5 manors recorded in Domesday in Arkesden and this site, presumably, represents the home of one of the knightly tenants (if it was a manorial centre the manor does not seem to have survived independently for very long). The 'Plash' place-name is presumably a corruption of de Plaiz an important knightly (ultimately baronial) family in East Anglia who may have held this estate at a later date. It is unlikely it represented a residence for that family but may still have functioned as a site for a steward or wood-keeper bailiff. It may be possible it was built purely for such modest status accommodation and the lack of finds may represent modest inhabitants who used wooden, rather than pottery, vessels etc.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 27/08/2017 07:06:48

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