Great Easton Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameGreat Easton Castle
Alternative Names
Historic CountryEssex
Modern AuthorityEssex
1974 AuthorityEssex
Civil ParishGreat Easton

Mount and bailey castle, in grounds of Easton Hall. Mound is 130ft in diameter at the base, 43ft at the summit, 21ft high. Ditch is dry, 45ft wide, 5ft deep. The south arm of the bailey ditch remains with a short return towards the north, it is c34ft wide and 5ft deep at the most complete section. A pond SE of the mount indicates the eastern limit of the bailey. At the SE angle of the bailey is a small rectangular homestead moat, later than the bailey. There is a depression up the north side of the mount and another small depression on the top, c. 0.3m deep and 5m in diameter. Cart- track, disused in 1950, has cut through the middle of the south arm of the bailey ditch. Excavated 1964-1966 for the MPBW, in advance of ploughing. In 1964 a section across the 'bailey' ditch produced no evidence for date or function. Trial trenches to the north defined an area of occupation. Larger excavation on the edge of the moat uncovered features forming 4 phases of construction. Immediately south of Easton Hall's garden wall was a a substantial building, possibly timber and daub. Destruction debris found: chalkly boulder clay (not native to the site), burnt daub, pink painted plaster, mortar and nibbed roof tiles. Associated with this level were fragments of a pottery roof louvre. In the topsoil were fragments of green- glazed ridge crest. Pottery included shelly wares with soapy surfaces, likely C13 and C14 and later sherds. Not enough to suggest occupation in the C15 or later. In 1965 work continued on the motte and bailey and S and Sw of the moat around the motte. Evidence for 3 main occupation periods. Alongside the moat was a ditch c8ft wide, 4ft deep into the natural subsoil, filled mainly with upcast from the moat. In this was early medieval pottery. Suggests motte is adulterine, 1139-1144. Another ditch was parallel, south of it and later as it was cut into C12 upcast. Cut into the adjacent subsoil

Post holes, slots, must be associated with one or other of the ditches. A 2-phase kitchen was built over and to the south of the 2nd ditch. Phase I had a central hearth in a hollow. This was wholly or partly destroyed by fire at the end of the 13th century, perhaps. Phase II was built then, similar in plan to Phase I, with a clay oven in the SE corner. 4 successive hearths were on the hollow of the previous central hearth. It is likely that at least the western side of the kitchen was open. The kitchen was dismantled in the late C14 or early C15. The resulting hollow was filled with earth mixed with stones, gravel, tile fragment, clay, burnt daub, pottery of all periods including a few sherds of St Neots ware (see 1177). The latter pottery was not found on this part of the site, suggesting an earlier occupation lay elsewhere. In 1966, excavation was west of the 1965 building. Sills for a 14th century building were found. The line of an E-W cobbled cross-passage was continued by sills for a corridor running from the west doorway. This building may have been the kitchen-the 1965 building is described as the 'roasting house' and 2 very substantial sills to the north west may be the remains of a north-south hall. These clay foundations sealed the remains of earlier structures. A possibly early C13 ditch may be associated with a curved slot 20ft long. Another ditch was an extension of one found in 1965 below the roasting house. Various post holes at this level couldn't be assigned to any structure in particular. Among the finds were parts of 3 mortars, 1 of Purbeck marble, 2 of Bembridge limestone. In 1086 the manor was held by William de Warenne (2 hides) and Mat. (?) of Montagne (5 hides). The site was probably that of a manor house. The louvre is exceptionally large and complex. It "is outstanding for its great size, for the scale and shape of its apertures, and for the addition of finials as decorative elements on its upper part". Motte is locally known as "the mound" or "mount" and is on a broad south facing spur. It is grass covered. The surrounding ditch is "now" only a landscape feature, largely filled in and lawned. No identifiable remains of a bailey. Length of ditch (c. 10m wide) shown on OS 25" 2nd ed (TL 60862532-TL 60922534) has been ploughed out. Nowhere else can the assumed course be confirmed. Alleged homestead moat at TL 60932535 is probably a drainage enclosure, slopes north-south, connects to a pond on the north side and a drain of similar size on the south side. Diameter of mound at base is 35m. (Unlocking Essex's Past)

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 ReferenceTL609254
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  • 1966-70, Essex Archaeology and History Vol. 2 p. 159-60
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