Mary le Bone Hill, Sandwich

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Motte)

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameMary le Bone Hill, Sandwich
Alternative NamesManwood Road; Marrowbone Hill
Historic CountryKent
Modern AuthorityKent
1974 AuthorityKent
Civil ParishSandwich

Well defined circular ditch (motte?) with less distinct 'bailey' (also circular) attached to it and centered on TR 32235803: within the 'bailey' is the site of a probable 13th century chapel (AP (RAF 106G UK 1131 F3041; 17 1 46). The cropmark remains of the large, probably Medieval, motte and bailey described by the previous authority were seen centred at TR 3224 5808 and mapped at 1:2500 scale from aerial photographs as part of the English Heritage: Richborough Environs Project. The site appears as a low circular mound surrounded by a broad ditch, possibly a motte, with a diameter of 68m. In the centre of the mound there is a rectilinear depression synonymous with a building foundation, however, on photographs taken in 1945 a small rectilinear structure thought to be a WWII gun pit was noted at this location. It is not certain if the two features are connected with one another. Attached to the southern side of this enclosure is a second sub-circular enclosure with a broad ditch measuring 73m x 98m. To the west of the supposed bailey and to a lesser extent to the north-east of the supposed motte are a number of interconnecting ditches which may be associated with the drainage/water supply to the site. The site is low lying, occupying a low promontory on the well drained Thanet Beds to the west of Sandwich. Despite its name, at no point does the 'hill rise to the height of the 5m contour (Aerial photograph-RAF 58/1111 0012 050MAY-1953). The name Mary-le-Bone Hill is a recent corruption, the site being called Marrowbone hill on the 1871 OS plan. On the south-western mound the SMR notes the possible foundations of a 13th century chapel which include large flints and fragments of Carrara marble which has most probably been robbed from the Roman fort at Richborough. This may have been the early site of The Maldry, a Sandwich leper hospital or possibly connected with an enclosure by Leeds Priory in the early 14th century which was the subject of a law suit

There was no surface evidence at all of the castle at the site. AP evidence has since been followed up. Photographs since 1945 show the deterioration of the site from apparent slight earthwork remains to the survival of the site as a soil mark in photographs from 1979. No more recent photographs were available to consult (English Heritage Alternative Action Report-MPPA: Mr A G Brown. Date of Visit: 10-May-1990). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Identification of this vague cropmark as a site of a motte and bailey seems questionably, particularly since the site is well outside Sandwich and it may well be the cropmark represents the enclosure of the possible leper hospital (which one would expect to be well outside the town). The masonry castle was built just outside the town walls in 1290. If there was an earlier castle at Sandwich there seems to be no reason to believe it was not at that site.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTR322580
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Clarke, H., Pearson, S., Mate, M. and Parfitt, K., 2010, Sandwich, 'the completest medieval town in England': a study of the town and port from its origins to 1600 (Oxford: Oxbow Books) p. 10, 21, 269


  • Ogilvie, J.D., 1960, 'Mary-le-Bone Hill, Sandwich' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 74 p. 141-50 online copy
  • 1959, 'Report for the Year ended 31st December, 1959' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 74 p. liii view online transciption


  • Kent County Council, December 2004, Kent Historic Towns Survey (Kent County Council and English Heritage) view online copy