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Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Aldrey; Alrehede

In the civil parish of Haddenham?.
In the historic county of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely.
Modern Authority of Cambridgeshire.
1974 county of Cambridgeshire.
Medieval County of county palatine of the Isle of Ely.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL444732
Latitude 52.33795° Longitude 0.11896°

Aldreth has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are no visible remains.


Castle at Alrehede/Aldreth was constructed in 1071 and held against King Stephen between 1140-1143, in which year it was captured. Built by William I in campaign against Hereward. Renn suggests either Belsar's Hill or Braham as possibilities. PastScape gives general location of Aldreth village.

A wooden fortress is said to have existed at Aldreth according to C13 historian, Matthew Paris. It was known as "Hereward's Castle". It also recorded that a castle was built at Aldreth by Nigellus, Bishop of Ely, as a defence against King Stephen (1135-54) (Evelyn-White). The castle of Alrehede is mentioned by the 'Liber Eliensis' in connection with the defence of the Isle of Ely in 1069-71. It was refortified in 1139. "Identification is doubtful but a suggested site is Belsar's Hill, Willingham" (TL 47 SW 24)" (Renn). (PastScape)

Modern drainage has made major changes to the landscape since the C11/C12, but the line of the Aldreth causeway, through what would have been impassible marsh, remains very clear and the fortification clearly controlled this. Belsar's Hill overlies and controls one end and Aldreth village lies at the other end. As habitable space is limited any fortification at the Aldreth end of the causeway could well have been built over. Since the castle is repeated referred to as Aldreth, rather than Willingham, there is a distinct possibility of a lost fortification at the village. There is no reason that there should not have been fortifications at both ends of the causeway, although such duplication has a cost. Braham can be rejected as a possible site.

The documentary evidence makes it certain as there being some structure controlling the Aldreth causeway, although the term brethasch, used in 1173, might not necessarily mean a fortification. A toll was due for use of the causeway so a toll collector and toll booth of some sort must have existed. Given map reference is point were Aldreth Causeway ends but location of the 'castle' remains uncertain.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:31

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