Higham Gobion, Fishery

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameHigham Gobion, Fishery
Alternative NamesThe Camp
Historic CountryBedfordshire
Modern AuthorityBedfordshire
1974 AuthorityBedfordshire
Civil ParishShillington

Motte in middle of vague enclosure. Medieval earthwork, supposed castle. Associated with DMV. (King 1983)

A triangular earthwork, known as 'The Camp', consisting of a low broad rampart with faint signs of a shallow interior ditch. It averages 35 feet broad by some 4 1/2 feet high, except near its north angle where it widens to 51 feet, and where there is a break, probably an entrance. There are two other entrances near the ends on the south side. In the centre of the enclosed area is a low circular mound, about 100 feet across the base and 45 feet at the top, with a shallow trench round it. The character of the work and its date are difficult to determine, but it may be connected with the former manorhouse on the hill. (PastScape–ref. VCH)

The position of this earthwork, in low-lying marshy ground, would seem to rule out the idea that it is defensive in character. The banks are broad and flat and there is no external ditch. It was probably constructed as a fishfarm, the banks being for retaining water and protection from flood-water. The broad flat oblong termination at the north corner would be large enough for a building and the opening here was probably for a sluice. At the SE corner are three large fish-ponds, also protected form flooding. (PastScape–ref. Wadmore)

An earthwork, generally as described by Goddard and Wadmore, comprising a central mound ('A'), a roughly triangular outer bank ('B'), and a series of three fish-ponds ('C'). It is situated in a non-defensive position on a flood-plain. The W sector is wooded, but the majority is under pasture. No distinctive name is known locally. The central mound 'A' is 31.0m in diameter. Around the base is a slight dry ditch, 0.5m deep, with two similar ditches connecting with the inner ditch of the triangular earthwork 'B'. The latter comprises a broad bank about 12.0m average width and up to 1.6m internal height, though it is reduced in the SW

The inner ditch (of much smaller proportions than the bank) is about 0.5m average depth. Though dry, it appears that originally it drained through a gap in the bank in the NW to a stream. The bank is mutilated in the S and NW by a modern hedge/ditch and adjacent track. The interior is 0.4m below surrounding ground level. The three fishponds ('C') in the SE corner each measure 40.0m long and 10.0m wide, and are dry. The theory that the interior was once flooded is reasonable; the stream running from higher ground in the SE along the NE side of the earthwork still has a good flow of water, though there is no trace of a connecting leet. The interior ditches are probably more recent drainage channels. The purpose of the central mound cannot be ascertained. Rig-and-furrow occurs in the fields centred TL 102331 and TL104331 associated with the amorphous Md village earthworks of Higham Gobion (TL 13 SW 32). The earthwork is probably associated with the village. (PastScape–ref. field investigators comments, 1973)

Gatehouse Comments

Clearly a complex site, with uncertain use. However if the interior was flooded, as seems possible, and was a fish farm then the mound presumably represents a platform for a building, defended by the water. This is unlikely to a be a castle but the fishery keeper lodge and equipment store may have been defended from thieves. The Beds. HER suggest the island was purely a nesting isle which is probably the most likely explanation.

- 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 ReferenceTL105332
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  • Petre, James Scott, 2012, The Castles of Bedfordshire (Lavenham: Lavenham Press for Shaun Tyas) p. 103, 104 (discounted as castle)
  • 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. 220 (reject)
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of The Thames Valley and The Chilterns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 14
  • Aston, M., 1985, Interpreting the Landscape (London) p. 16
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 6
  • Wadmore, Beauchamp, 1920, The Earthworks of Bedfordshire (Bedford) p. 245-7
  • Goddard, 1904, in Doubleday, H.Arthur and Page, Wm (eds), VCH Bedfordshire Vol. 1 p. 276-8


  • 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. 455