Hartford; The Mount

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameHartford; The Mount
Alternative NamesSapley; Kings Ripton; The Moat
Historic CountryHuntingdonshire
Modern AuthorityCambridgeshire
1974 AuthorityCambridgeshire
Civil ParishKings Ripton

A motte & bailey castle on a low plateau c. 3km N of the River Ouse at Huntingdon. The motte is an oval mound 3m high, 24m long by 12m wide, lying to the N of the bailey. It is surrounded by a ditch whose outer edge is rectangular in plan, and which is up to 1.5m deep. The ditch is 10m wide on three arms, but the NW arm is only 5m wide. There is an outer bank, 4m wide by 0.5m high, along the SW, SE and NE arms. Although there are no surface traces of a bank on NW arm there is potential for the survival of below-ground evidence. A small irregularly shaped bailey 40m long by 15m wide lies on the SE side of the motte. The bailey ramparts on the E side are thought to have been destroyed by agricultural activity, but the interior is intact, and defences are still visible on the W and S sides. These comprise a 0.5m high bank with a waterlogged outer ditch 7m wide by 1.5m deep. An outlet channel, 7m wide and 1.5m deep, emerges from the SW of the bailey ditch. The outer bank on the SW arm of the motte ditch extends along the W arm of the bailey and the W edge of the outlet channel. The site is now called 'The Moat' but on older maps is called 'The Mount', helping to confirm its identification as a castle. It is situated at the N end of the ancient Royal Forest of Sapley. The site is essentially well-preserved. The interior of the bailey & top of the motte will contain below-ground evidence of building remains, whilst the ditches and buried land surface beneath the motte contain silt deposits from which environmental evidence may be recovered. (Camb SMR record ? EH scheduling report)

It is conceivable that the site was a hunting lodge rather than a serious fortification, even though it seems to have been built on a motte and bailey plan. If that were the case, the earthworks could have been at nearly any time in the late-eleventh or twelfth centuries

In the final analysis, the evidence does not seem to suggest that there was a castle in Hartford/Sapley before 1100. (Lowerre 2004)

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 ReferenceTL248755
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  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of East Anglia (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 19
  • Taylor, Alison, 1986, Castles of Cambridgeshire (Cambridge)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 224
  • Inskip Ladds, S., 1926, in Page, Wm and Proby, Granville (eds), VCH Huntingdonshire Vol. 1 p. 129 p. 292 view unattributed online copy
  • RCHME, 1926, An inventory of the historical monuments in Huntingdonshire p. 129 no. 2 online transcription


  • 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. 503-4