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Waytemore Castle, Bishops Stortford

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Weytemore; Storteford; Estorteford

In the civil parish of Bishops Stortford.
In the historic county of Hertfordshire.
Modern Authority of Hertfordshire.
1974 county of Hertfordshire.
Medieval County of Hertfordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL49002148
Latitude 51.87200° Longitude 0.16291°

Waytemore Castle, Bishops Stortford has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle, and also as a certain Palace.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Waytemore Castle has important royal and ecclesiastical associations with William I and the Bishops of London. The motte survives well and will retain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the development and use of the castle from the 11th to the 14th century.
Waytemore Castle is on low, marshy ground north of Bishop's Stortford on the west banks of the River Stort. The monument includes the ditched motte of a motte and bailey castle, later adapted as a shell keep. The oval shaped motte, orientated north-east to south-west, measures 83m by 65m and is about l2m high. On the summit of the motte are the flint rubble foundations of a shell keep enclosing an area of 27m by 12m and containing two sunken chambers. Although not visible at ground level, a ditch, which formed part of the castle defences, surrounds the motte mound. This has been infilled over the years but survives as a buried feature c.3m wide. The castle was built by William I and was an early stronghold of the Bishops of London. It was used as a prison from 1344. Burials and coins relating to the prison have been found in the bailey area. The bailey formed a roughly pentagonal enclosure to the south of the motte. The surrounding ditches have been heavily altered into narrow waterways and the bailey has been nearly levelled. The archaeological deposits of the bailey have been heavily disturbed and are not included in the scheduling. A flagpole has been erected on the motte. (Scheduling Report)

Waytemore Castle Motte and Bailey stands on low marshy ground north of the town on the east bank of the River Stort. The castle was an early stronghold of the Bishops of London and is of special interest in that it retains traces of a shell keep. The Keep Motte, large and oval, is 40 feet high, and covers at the summit about 1/5 acre. Of the former Shell Keep, which is probably 12th century, little more than the flint rubble foundations remain enclosing roughly rectangular space about 90 feet by 40 feet. The Bailey is much altered and forms roughly a pentagonal enclosure to the south of the motte. The surrounding ditches have been altered into narrow waterways except for the part between the motte and bailey. The entrance was probably on the south from the causeway across the marsh. The site has been acquired by the UDC and the earthworks and remains of shell keep are to be carefully repaired and protected. Condition - of Motte, good; of Keep - ruinous; the Bailey, nearly levelled (RCHME).
Motte and Bailey as described by RCHME. The Motte is in good condition, turf covered. The shell keep foundations have been restored by the local council and are kept in good repair. The Bailey is very much levelled. Part of the counterscarp of the ditch which once ran between the Motte and Bailey is still visible at the west end of the north side of the Bailey but is unsurveyable. The site is laid out as pleasure gardens open to the public (F1 ASP 27-JUL-1962).
Massive foundations were found in the south west part of the bailey in 1850, some of flint and oolite set in yellow mortar as well as others of possibly Roman brick. A causeway of shingles laid on gravel ran towards the motte and human and other bones and pottery were found (Renn 1971). (PastScape)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1346 March 12 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

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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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:31

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