John of Gaunts Hill, Sutton

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameJohn of Gaunts Hill, Sutton
Alternative Names
Historic CountryBedfordshire
Modern AuthorityBedfordshire
1974 AuthorityBedfordshire
Civil ParishSutton

John of Gaunt's Hill is an oval mound measuring 180 feet by 115 feet. The surrounding ditch is widest on the east and measures 48 feet across and 10 feet deep and the mound rises out of it to a height of 16 feet. Modern red roofing tiles are found a few inches below the surface on the south of the mound. It is possible that the mound has been occupied for gardening purposes as the Elizabethan manor house stood near it to the north (VCH). A superficially motte-like mound 62.0m. N-S by 36.0m E-W, 3.0m. in height, surrounded by a broad ditch 16.0-19.0m. win width, 1.5-3.0m. in depth. A probably original causewayed entrance on the W side leads into the flat summit of the mound. Original purpose uncertain but probably ornamental. The work has been somewhat spread and reduced by the plough, and is now under turf, with a golf green upon the mound (field investigators comments 1969). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Lowerre (2005) rejects this as a castle, partly based on the small size of the eleven holdings recorded in the Domesday manor of Sutton, all less than 2 hides (although Alwin the reeve held four of these total value of £1/9s.). While castles built in such small holdings are rare in this part of the country they are fairly common in the welsh marches and, therefore, the possibility of this being a castle site can not be excluded. The destruction of the landscape by a golf course makes reading this monument difficult. However seems rather complex for a simple prospect mound and not quite orientated to the house and, whilst clearly used as a garden feature, may well have an earlier origin. 200m NE of church in location entirely feasible for a manorial centre. On balance Gatehouse favours this as a small motte and bailey, possible built by Alwin the Reeve, a Saxon, and designed to show his status and acceptance of Norman rule through the adoption of a Norman building form.

- 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 ReferenceTL221477
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Petre, James Scott, 2012, The Castles of Bedfordshire (Lavenham: Lavenham Press for Shaun Tyas) p. 77
  • 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. 223
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of The Thames Valley and The Chilterns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 16
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 6
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1968, Bedfordshire and the County of Huntingdon and Peterborough p. 153
  • Wadmore, Beauchamp, 1920, The Earthworks of Bedfordshire (Bedford) p. 173-5
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Goddard, A.R., 1904, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Doubleday, H.Arthur and Page, Wm (eds), VCH Bedfordshire Vol. 1 p. 300-1


  • Baker, D., 1982, 'Mottes, Moats and ringworks in Bedfordshire: Beauchamp Wadmore revisited' Château Gaillard Vol. 9-10 p. 35-54 (plan)
  • Dyer, J.F., 1962-3, 'Bedfordshire Earthworks VIII, The Castles: Part One' Bedfordshire magazine Vol. 8 no. 63 p. 350


  • 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. 468-9