Anstey motte and bailey castle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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

East Hertfordshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 40474 33005

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Anstey Castle is a well-documented example of a Norman castle with historical records dating back to the 11th century. Despite partial excavation, the motte and bailey survive well and will retain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the development of the castle, the landscape in which it was constructed and the economy of its inhabitants.


The monument includes a motte and bailey castle situated at the south end of a broad spur, adjacent to the Norman church of St George's. It survives as a large flat-topped motte which measures 75m north-south by 65m east-west and is c.9m in height. Surrounding the motte is a waterfilled ditch 10m wide with a 5m wide causeway to the south-east. To the north and east of the motte is the L-shaped bailey which is still surrounded on its north-western and north-eastern sides by a dry ditch, 14m wide and 4m deep. Within the projected area of the bailey, just east of the motte, is a square-shaped landscaped mound 22m across and c.3.5m high. It is surrounded by a dry ditch about 8m wide and 3m deep. Its position and shape are incongruous with the bailey and it is considered to be a later ornamental addition. In 1902 excavations carried out by R T Andrews on the eastern edge of the motte summit revealed a trapezoidal foundation of flint dug c.46cm deep into the boulder clay. Fragments of tile and 13th century pottery were also found. The castle is attributed to Eustace, Count of Cologne, who held the manor at Domesday. In 1218 Nicholas de Anstey was ordered to reduce his castle which was in the king's hands in 1225. The bungalow, paths and the swimming pool are excluded from the scheduling although the land beneath the bungalow and paths 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Renn, D, Medieval Castles in Hertfordshire, (1971), 13
Andrews. R T, TEHAS Excavation Report, (1903)
TL 43 SW22, Information from NAR (TL 43 SW22),


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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