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Totternhoe Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Totternhoe Knolls

In the civil parish of Totternhoe.
In the historic county of Bedfordshire.
Modern Authority of Bedfordshire.
1974 county of Bedfordshire.
Medieval County of Bedfordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SP97892210
Latitude 51.88876° Longitude -0.57887°

Totternhoe Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a Masonry Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The motte comprises a conical mound surrounded by a broad ditch on all but the south west side. It is enclosed between two baileys. The smaller, western bailey is oval in plan and defined by a bank, while the eastern bailey is triangular in plan with a well shaft, known as the 'Money Pit' towards its west side. The third bailey lies immediately to the east. It is rectangular in plan and extends eastward along the spur. The earliest written reference to the castle dates from between 1170 and 1176. The medieval quarries lie on the hillside below and to the north and north west of the motte. They survive as a series of infilled pits, spoil heaps and extraction scars. East of the castle, a series of cultivation terraces or lynchets can be seen. These descend 30 metres from the 152 metre contour, forming steps which average 3 metres in height and terraces roughly 5 metres wide. A geophysical survey undertaken in 2001 indicated a buried trackway, running from the western arm of the outer bailey towards a track which still follows the upper terrace. It is thought that these lynchets may have developed during occupation of the castle. (PastScape–ref. Scheduling report)

The VCH suggested that the outer bailey may have been a Roman camp and Dyer suggested the site may have started as an Iron Age promontory fort, but put forward no evidence beyond the obvious similarity with other such sites. However, the 2001 resistivity survey, over the inner and outer baileys revealed evidence for an earlier field system on the outer bailey site, suggesting that the castle was built on the site of a prehistoric and Roman enclosure.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

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