Dane John Mound and Roman and medieval remains in Dane John Garden


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Canterbury (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TR 14799 57404


A motte and bailey castle known as Dane John Mound, 58m south of Chantry Hall.

Reasons for Designation

Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte and bailey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles or motte and bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Despite some disturbance in the past, the motte and bailey castle known as Dane John Mound survives well. The motte of the castle is of additional significance in incorporating likely remains of a Roman burial mound. The site will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the construction, use and history of the castle.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 December 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes a motte and bailey castle, known as Dane John Mound, surviving as earthworks and below-ground remains. It is situated on the south-east side of the old town of Canterbury, within the city walls east of the River Great Stour.

The motte and bailey castle abuts the inner edge of the city wall. The motte of the castle is a circular earthwork or mound approximately 50m wide and 31.85m high. It is thought to overlie a Roman burial mound, which formed part of a barrow cemetery and is included in the scheduling. A ditch formerly surrounded about two thirds of the motte and is likely to survive as a buried feature having become infilled in the past. Partial excavation has also revealed the outer ditch of the castle bailey surviving as a buried feature. It has become infilled but is a large flat-bottomed ditch about 17m wide and 3m deep. The site also includes the remains of part of the Roman bank inside the city wall, which has been recorded during partial excavation.

The Dane John would have been an ideal site for a castle, protected on the south and east by the remains of the Roman defensive wall and rampart, and it is thought that the motte was built on top of an already existing mound dating to at least the Roman period. The military life of the castle appears to have been short, probably ending with the construction of the Norman stone castle to the west in about 1130. In the late medieval period the bailey ditch was recut and used as a drain or dyke - possibly the documented ‘Black Ditch’ or ‘Black Dyke’ - an open sewer which skirted the Dane John gardens until the early eighteenth century. The former motte of the castle was apparently used as a gun platform during the Civil War. In the later eighteenth century the site was temporarily abandoned and used for the deposition of rubbish, until, in 1790 the ‘Dane John Land’ was made over to Alderman James Simmons, who undertook to ‘level the land called Dane John except for the great hill there’ and landscape the entire area, at which time the mound was enlarged to its present dimensions. Simmons later surrendered his lease of the land after an argument, and by the 1800's the works had been abandoned. Alderman Cyprian Bunce took up the landscaping works thereafter, creating the gardens almost as they stand today. The site was partially excavated in 1961 and 1981.

The monument is within the bounds of a Grade II registered park and garden. The Dane John Mound Pinnacle, Sundial, Memorial to Christopher Marlowe, and the Invicta Engine set on a plinth within the Dane John Gardens are Grade II listed.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
KE 44
Legacy System:


NMR TR15NW264, TR15NW522, TR15NW51. PastScape 464929, 1109892, 464728. GD 3033. Proposed MPP 24354


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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