The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Nayland Court Knoll

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Leyland; le castel de Leiland

In the civil parish of Nayland With Wissington.
In the historic county of Suffolk.
Modern Authority of Suffolk.
1974 county of Suffolk.
Medieval County of Suffolk.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL97553399
Latitude 51.96940° Longitude 0.87440°

Nayland Court Knoll has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Situated 150m East of Nayland Bridge on the flood-plain of the River Stour and consisting of a D-shaped earthwork with a mound in the Nort-East corner, has the superficial appearance of a motte and bailey. In this connection its position at an old crossing of the River Stour is perhaps not without significance. The defences, where best preserved, have an unusual profile comprising a low, faint rampart separated from an outer ditch by a berm. Cut into the bottom of the ditch is a further ditch, presumably a modern drainage feature, and part dry when visited. A gap in the North-West corner is possibly an original entrance. The mound, which is very vague but appears to be near-circular on plan, measure approx. 40m. in diameter and reaches a maximum height of 1m There are faint traces of a ditch around the W. side. Kentish Ragstone is visible in the ditch East of the mound. The exact nature of this building is obscure but the presence of Kentish Ragstone suggests an early medieval date. It is therefore, possibly the chapel referred to by Morant and the mound may mark its site. (PastScape)

Excavations in 1924 revealed building foundations believed to be Norman in date and built of flint and Roman tile. Geophysics showed a number of probable building foundations and archaeological features though no obvious plan. Finds from fieldwalking were mostly of high medieval date although a significant quantity of re-used Roman building materials confirmed that this was used in the construction of buildings which once occupied the site. The majority of finds were focussed around an area in the north eastern corner of the monument which is also where the geophysics showed most activity. Documentary evidence suggests that the site was most likely constructed for Swein of Essex sometime around the Norman Conquest and may have gone into decline during the fourteenth century. By the eighteen century, the only building remains visible on the site were the ruins of the chapel. (Suffolk HER ref. Breen 2001)

Leyland - Castle mentioned in 1160 (P.R.O. c.146/10018, see Bulletin of the John Rylands Library XXIV, 168; XXVII, 179) possibly Court Knoll, Nayland, Suffolk (TL 975340). (Renn 1973)

The masonry remains are of buildings within the earthworks and the presumed timber defences do not seem to have been replaced with stonework. The reported motte seems to be a collapsed masonry building and the site is an embanked enclosure. An investigation of this site, without the blinkering dogma that 'castles' are post-Conquest, would be interesting. The site almost certainly was the site of the Saxon manorial centre with continued use in the Norman period, when masonry buildings were constructed, but the date of the defensive embankment has not been established.
3 May 2016 - Geophysical survey, including GPR, have found the stone building to be a double apsed building which is within a, noe no longer apparent, ditched sub-enclosure in the north east corner. Further investigation is certainly required to understand this site.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:30

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact