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Chateau Des Marais

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Ivy Castle; Marais d' Orgeuil; Chateau d'Orgueil; The Marsh Castle

In the parish of St Sampson.
On the Isle of Guernsey.

Latitude 49.47178° Longitude -2.53859°

Chateau Des Marais has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a archaeological monument protected by law.


Irregular motte, formed out of a rocky hillock, surrounded by what was one a wide marsh. Bailey surrounds motte; motte and bailey are both crudely and weakly walled. First mentioned 1244, when already old; again mentioned 1292. (King 1983)

A natural mound with scatters of prehistoric pottery and flints was fortified in early 13th century to provide inner and outer baileys. The site of the recorded chapel was only tentatively located. After c 1300 a gap in occupation resulted until refortification in c 1770/1800 with the walls seen (ruinously) today. Much WW II disturbance. Ample coin, pottery, and historical evidence. (Abstract for Barton's 1980 article.)

excavations at Chateau des Marais undertaken in the late 1970s identified the series of steps taken to build a thirteenth-century ringwork on the Isle of Guernsey. After burning the land clear of vegetation, builders marked out the plan of the castle with large stones, which they placed to indicate the midway point for the earthen ramparts to be built over them. Then, they piled up heaps of turf to form the embankment, over which they laid a mass of clay mixed with granite chunks to form the outermost coating of the rampart. (Hull 2009 ref. Kenyon 1990)

In Guernsey there a suitable site for a castle just to the north of St Peter Port: a rocky hillock set in an extensive marsh - le marais d'Orgueil. A motte was constructed on the hillock and was then surrounded by a bailey. Archaeological evidence confirms that the castle built in the 13th century (Barton 1980). Le Patourel has identified the wardenship of Geoffrey de Lucy (1225-6) as a time of fortification in the Channel islands, with timber and lead been sent over from England for castle building in Guernsey and Jersey (Le Patourel, 1949, p. 5). The castle in Jersey with Gorey. My Suggestion is that the castle in Guernsey was the Chateau des Marais.
Edith Carey refers to the Château des Marais as a royal castle. There are three reasons in favour of her interpretation. First the castle was built on fief le roi - the King's land. Secondary the king appointed the chaplain to the castle chapel, Notre Dame des Marais. Thirdly, in the early 17th century there was still a folk memory of the function of the castle - royal commissioners described it as 'a very ruinous and decayed castle belonging to His Majesty, of long ago used for the Mansion or seat of the Captains and Governors of this isle' (Carrie 1924, p. 312, my italics).
For defensive purposes the site has much to commend it. The marshes surrounding the castle constituted a natural - and extensive - moat. Any enemy would have experienced difficulties in approaching the castle. However after one generation also in Newcastle with planned and built. ... this was Castle Cornet. Chateau des Marais was not abandoned. Archaeological evidence suggests that it was in use in the later 13th century (Barton 1980) and documentary evidence as late as 1330 refers to the chaplain at the castle. It may well be that it was used as a castle of refuge when its role of the king's castle was taken over by Castle Cornet. (Cox 2012)

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This record last updated on Tuesday, April 18, 2017