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Burghill Castle

In the civil parish of Burghill.
In the historic county of Herefordshire.
Modern Authority of Herefordshire.
1974 county of Hereford and Worcester.
Medieval County of Herefordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO47824465
Latitude 52.09772° Longitude -2.76312°

Burghill Castle has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


An earthwork at Burghill (consisted of a small square platform surrounded by a moat with an outside rampart upon S & E. Classified as a homestead moat. Mound now been completely levelled & moat filled up. (VCH). Only shallow ground undulations now denote site of moat (OS record). A motte and bailey castle that may well be pre-Conquest. Thomas Blount writing in c. 1655 says that a rampart and fosse surrounded the existing orchard, to the west of the church. Covered about 1.5ha, sited to dominate the Roman and post Roman roads of Herefordshire (Bount). Levelled at the end of the last century, all traces have been obliterated (Blake). (Herefordshire SMR)

In the orchard adjoining the church yard is an ancient barrow. (Kelly's Directory 1858)

Has been suggested as a pre-Conquest castle. The site is certainly a manorial centre and the place-name certainly suggests a Saxon thegnal burh site. However the earthworks, which did include a mound, do not seem to have been particularly substantial. The site was actual quite well known but never considered as a motte and bailey by experience field archaeologists and Wardle's thesis that this was England's first castle, or even a pre-conquest castle, is rather more speculative than that of most careful writers. The very experienced Herefordshire castle studies expert Ron Shoesmith is certainly not convinced by Wardle's arguments. It may well have been a Saxon thegnal site, possible adapted post-Conquest with a mainly symbolic motte, and then even latter adapted into a fashionable square moat (excavation is needed to test this) but it certainly was not England's first castle. The first 'castle' in England depends on what definition of castle one is using. For a pre-Conquest motte castle Richards Castle is often suggested but arguably Dover Castle had a long period as a strongly fortified high status Saxon residence probably dating well back into the C9 and the natural fortress of Bamburgh Castle, with a possible history of basically continual occupation dating from before the Roman Conquest, was a Northumbrian royal palace from the C6 and is recorded as walled in stone in the late C6.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:30

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