Chalgrave motte

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are no visible remains

NameChalgrave motte
Alternative Names
Historic CountryBedfordshire
Modern AuthorityBedfordshire
1974 AuthorityBedfordshire
Civil ParishChalgrave

Small motte and bailey, excavated in 1970 and since completely levelled. It had been constructed in two phases and abandoned in C13. Traces of a manorial site of several periods and of an C11 timber manor-house were found during the excavations, the latter under the motte. (PastScape)

Chalgrave, Bedfordshire, began as a small motte c. 110, built close to the church and over an area which had been occupied by a manorial complex of uncertain date. Towards the end of the same century the motte was enlarged to take a long single-storey timber building, and the encircling ditch was recut; clearly the first castle was found to be too small to provide the facilities required by a new lord. However, in spite of this, the castle was abandoned for reasons unknown in the late C12 or early C13 in favour of another site close by (Pinder and Davison 1988). (Kenyon 1990)

Gatehouse Comments

Lowerre (2005) rejects this as a castle based on his definition of early Norman castles. The opinion of Gatehouse is that his definition is far too narrow to be useful and would, if applied nationally, exclude the vast majority of castles. Was the initial small motte a symbolic mound marking the knightly status of the new Norman lord of the manor, who continued to occupy the Saxon thegnal buildings? Then enlarged to become a platform motte with a new hall.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTL009273
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  • Petre, James Scott, 2012, The Castles of Bedfordshire (Lavenham: Lavenham Press for Shaun Tyas) p. 55, 57
  • Edgeworth, M., 2007, 'The Medieval Period' in M. Oake et al, Bedfordshire Archaeology. Research and Archaeology: Resource Assessment, Research Agenda and Strategy (Bedfordshire Archaeology Monograph 9) p. 98-109
  • Lowerre, A.G., 2005, Placing Castles in the Conquest. Landscape, Lordship and Local Politics in the South-Eastern Midlands, 1066-1100 (Oxford: John and Erica Hedges Ltd: BAR British Series 385) p. 218-19
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of The Thames Valley and The Chilterns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 13
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 49, 355
  • Kenyon, John, 1990, Medieval Fortifications (Leicester University Press) p. 11
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 7
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 207
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 139
  • 1970, Archaeological Excavations (HMSO) p. 25
  • Wadmore, Beauchamp, 1920, The Earthworks of Bedfordshire (Bedford) p. 157-9


  • 1990, South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 20 p. 2 online copy
  • Pinder, A. and Davison, B., 1988, 'The excavation of a motte and bailey castle at Chalgrave, Bedfordshire, 1970' Bedfordshire Archaeology Vol. 18 p. 33-56
  • 1987, 'A motte and bailey castle at Chalgrave' South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 17 p. 10-11 online copy
  • 1986, South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 16 p. 28 online copy
  • Baker, D., 1982, 'Mottes, Moats and ringworks in Bedfordshire: Beauchamp Wadmore revisited' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 9-10 p. 35-54 (plan)
  • Davison, B.K., 1971, 'Chalgrave, Bedfordshire' South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 1 p. 16-17 online copy
  • (Davidson), 1971, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 15 p. 145 download copy
  • Dyer, J.F., 1963, 'Bedfordshire Earthworks X, Moated Homesteads' Bedfordshire magazine Vol. 9 no. 65 p. 8-9
  • Dyer, J.F., 1962-3, 'Bedfordshire Earthworks VIII, The Castles: Part One' Bedfordshire magazine Vol. 8 no. 63 p. 349-50
  • 1955, Bedfordshire Archaeologist Vol. 1 p. 43-5


  • Lowerre, A.G., 2004, Placing Castles in the Conquest. Landscape, Lordship and Local Politics in the South-Eastern Midlands, 1066-1100 (PhD thesis: Boston College) p. 446-49