Stansted Castle: a ringwork and associated bailey 100m north of Elms Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009311

Date first listed: 08-Oct-1923

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Jul-1992


Ordnance survey map of Stansted Castle: a ringwork and associated bailey 100m north of Elms Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Uttlesford (District Authority)

Parish: Stansted Mountfitchet

National Grid Reference: TL 51569 24988


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Ringworks are medieval fortifications built and occupied from the late Anglo-Saxon period to the later 12th century. They comprised a small defended area containing buildings which was surrounded or partly surrounded by a substantial ditch and a bank surmounted by a timber palisade or, rarely, a stone wall. Occasionally a more lightly defended embanked enclosure, the bailey, adjoined the ringwork. Ringworks acted as strongholds for military operations and in some cases as defended aristocratic or manorial settlements. They are rare nationally with only 200 recorded examples and less than 60 with baileys. As such, and as one of a limited number and very restricted range of Anglo-Saxon and Norman fortifications, ringworks are of particular significance to our understanding of the period.

Stansted Mountfitchet Castle is a well-documented example of a Norman ringwork and bailey with historical records dating from its construction in 1066 to its destruction in the early 13th century. Additionally, it has associations with important historical figures. The earthworks remain essentially undisturbed and will retain important archaeological evidence pertaining to the internal layout of the castle and environmental information relating to the economy of its inhabitants and the landscape in which they lived.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


Stansted Mountfitchet Castle, a ringwork and associated bailey, is situated on sloping ground immediately north of Stansted Brook. The ringwork includes a circular platform 30m east-west by 35m north-south, which is surrounded by a rampart 3.6m wide and about 2.6m high containing the lower courses of a flint rubble wall. A dry ditch surrounds the rampart and has a maximum width of 20m and is c.3m in depth. In the centre of the circular platform are traces of a small round enclosure, 10m in diameter, which is considered to be the remains of the keep. Projecting south from the ringwork is a short length of flint rubble wall, 3.9m in length, 1m in width and surviving to a height of c.2.7m. These remains are believed to indicate the presence of a defensive tower. On the east side of the ringwork there is a 6m wide causeway in the ditch which leads into the bailey. This measures 75m east-west by 90m north-south and is also defended by a rampart and surrounded by a dry ditch. The rampart is c.3.9m above the bottom of the ditch on the north-western side where it survives best. The entrance to the bailey was on the north and is flanked by a raising of the rampart on both sides. A scarp runs east-west across the bailey and is believed to indicate the foundations of a wall which formerly divided the bailey into two wards. Immediately south of the ringwork and bailey are a series of additional earthworks which may relate to agricultural or settlement activity in the area surrounding the castle. The castle was built by Robert de Gernon, Duke of Boulogne, who came over with William the Conqueror. Robert de Gernon's son and heir changed his name to Mountfitchet which was used by his descendants. In 1203 the castle passed to Richard II de Mountfitchet who, because still a child, became a ward of King John and was placed in the care of Roger de Lacey, Constable of Chester. Subsequently, in 1211, he became a ward of his mother. When Richard came of age he joined the baronial opposition to King John which included his former guardian, his brothers-in-law and a cousin. King John reacted swiftly, and, in 1212, arrested two of the rebel leaders and destroyed many of his opponents' castles. Stansted Mountfitchet was one of these. Richard died in 1258 having regained royal favour with Henry III, but he had no heirs and his estate was divided amongst his sisters. Examination of trenches illicitly excavated in 1979 revealed several medieval features along with a few pieces of pottery dating to the period of occupation. The site has been opened to the public by the owner as a museum and reconstructed medieval castle. Excluded from the scheduling are the buildings and paved tracks but the ground underneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 20670

Legacy System: RSM


SMR No: 4551, Information from SMR (No 4551),

End of official listing