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Stansted Mountfitchet Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Stansted Mount Fitchet; Stansted Castle; Mountfitchet Castle

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

OS Map Grid Reference: TL51532500
Latitude 51.90275° Longitude 0.20106°

Stansted Mountfitchet Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a probable Masonry Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law*.


Stansted Castle, a ringwork and bailey. The ring is circular about 1/2 an acre in extent surrounded by a rampart and dry-ditch. The rampart is 2.6m high and 4.0m wide at the summit in places and contains the lower courses of a flint rubble wall. The ditch is about 21.0m wide crest to crest and 3.2m deep from the summit of the scarp. The defenses are nearly obliterated on the S and W sides where the ground drops sharply away. Projecting towards the S from the line of the wall is a rubble wall, 4.0m long, 0.7m thick and 3.0m high, which possibly indicates a tower. On the E side a gap in the rampart leads by a causeway into the bailey. In the centre of the ring are traces of a small round enclosure, probably the site of a keep. The bailey, slightly over an acre in extent, is also defended by a bank and ditch, but with no trace of walling; presumably the rampart was strengthened by a wooden palisade. The bank is 4.0m above the ditch which is well-defined only on the NW side where it communicates with the ring-work ditch. The entrance in the N is flanked by a raising of the rampart on each side, though the W side is mutilated. The rampart is obliterated on the S side and only a steep scarp remains. A scarp crosses the bailey E to W, possibly indicating a wall dividing the bailey into two wards. The area to the E of the bailey is disfigured by quarrying. (PastScape ref. RCHME)

300yds east of the church, the bailey is on higher ground than the ring. The ring is circular, surrounded by a rampart containing lower courses of a flint rubble wall, 8.5ft high and 12ft wide at the summit in places, and surrounded by a dry ditch 70ft wide from crest to crest and 10ft deep from the summit of the scarp. In the centre are slight traces of a small round enclosure, probably the site of the keep. The ground drops sharply south and west and the defences are nearly obliterated on these sides. Projecting toward the south from the line of the wall is a short length of flint rubble wall (13ft long x 3ft thick x 9ft high). It retains some of the original surface of coursed flints and seems to indicate the presence of a tower on that side. On the east side a gap in the rampart on that side. On the east side a gap in the rampart leads by a causeway across the ditch into the bailey. The bailey is also defended by a rampart and ditch and is crossed by a slight scarp, possibly indicating the foundations of a wall formerly dividing the bailey into 2 wards. No apparent wall within the rampart which was probably strengthened by a wooden palisade. The rampart is c13ft above the bottom of the ditch, well defined only on the north west and communicates with the ditch of the ring work on that side. The entrance on the north is flanked by a raising of the rampart on each side. On the west this extra elevation has been partly thrown down. The rampart is obliterated on the south and only a deep scarp remains. A fragment of wall stands on the south west side of the ring, now 0.7m thick x 4.2m long and 2.8m high. In poor condition. No trace of a circular building foundation within the ring. (Unlocking Essex's Past)

Renn suggests a large keep similar to New Buckenham in Norfolk. Built by Robert de Gernon who came with William the Conqueror. It was destroyed in 1215 at the time it was held by Richard de Mountfitchet. The castle was not rebuilt after 1215.
The site has been developed as a tourist attraction and partly reconstructed as timber castle and 'Norman Village of 1066' (surely this should be a Saxon village?) the quality of the scholarship behind the reconstruction leaves much to be desired and some damage has been done to the site but there is something to be said for interesting a range of people in this period of history and there are enough castle sites to allow such an isolated development.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling   Listing   I. O. E.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:31

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