Berkhamsted siegeworks

Has been described as a Possible Siege Work

There are earthwork remains

NameBerkhamsted siegeworks
Alternative Names
Historic CountryHertfordshire
Modern AuthorityHertfordshire
1974 AuthorityHertfordshire
Civil ParishBerkhamsted

The outer earth works to the north and east of Berkhamstead Castle consisting of a bank with bastions have been interpreted as the possible remains of siegeworks, the castle was attacked in 1216, the fact that they are on higher ground may support the theory of siegeworks. Remfry suggests they are additional defences built before the siege.

Beyond the counterscarp bank to north and east is a further bank backed by seven earth bastions, perhaps the emplacement for stone-throwing engines... In 1215 the castle was to be repaired with local timber and in December 1216 it stood a fortnight's siege by Louis of France, only surrendering on the regent's orders. (Renn)

Gatehouse Comments

That there was both the need and the time to build additional works to defend Berkhamstead castle brings into question how much Berkhamstead was actually designed as a 'military' building in the first place. It was certainly built in a military style but its main function was as an administrative centre. However as an important symbol of government it was likely to be a target of enemy attack. See Castle record for full bibliography.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSP995082
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  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 170
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 325
  • Liddiard, R., 2005, Castles in Context: Power, Symbolism and Landscape, 1066 to 1500 (Macclesfield; Windgather Press) p. 88
  • Remfry, Paul, 1995, Berkhamsted Castle 1066 to 1495 (SCS Publications)
  • Pounds, Norman, 1994, The Medieval Castle in England and Wales: A Social and Political History (Cambridge University Press) p. 109, 111, 112
  • Renn, D.F., 1971, Medieval Castles in Hertfordshire (Chichester: Phillimore) p. 14


  • Kendall, J.M., 1923, 'The Siege of Berkhampstead Castle in 1216' The Antiquaries Journal Vol. 3 p. 37-48

Primary Sources

  • Michel, F. (ed), 1840, Histoire des Ducs de Normandie et des Rois d'Angleterre (Paris) p. 182 online copy


  • Isobel Thompson, 2005, Extensive Urban Survey - Hertfordshire (English Heritage) Download copy