Berden; The Crump

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameBerden; The Crump
Alternative NamesStock Farm, Stock's Farm
Historic CountryEssex
Modern AuthorityEssex
1974 AuthorityEssex
Civil ParishBerden

A Norman ring-work, with overall diameter of about 180 ft was excavated at the Crump, Berden, by the owner. Finds consist of typical 12th C. assemblage of cooking pots, figure-of-eight bronze strip, wavy-edged horse-shoes and "fiddle key" nails. (Renn; Knocker) On the S and E sides the moat, now dry, has been partially filled in, while on the W and N sides, the moat still contains water, and is about 6 ft deep. (VCH) The Crump (name verified) a circular earthwork situated in the garden of Stocks Farm c 1/2 mile S of Berden. It comprises a bank and outer ditch which encloses a saucer-shaped area, and measures c 53.0m overall diameter. The ditch is c 1.5m deep, the W arm waterfilled; the E arm is now dry, though it was originally wet. The bank is c 2.9m above the base of the ditch. The interior is not level but distinctly saucer-shaped, the height from base of "saucer" to top of bank being c 1.0m. The only break in the bank is on the S side, but there is no corresponding causeway across the ditch (Field Investigators–F1 NKB 11-MAR-75). (PastScape)

Ring motte. Described first as "early medieval defensive earthwork", 54.5m overall in diameter, consisting of a bank and ditch, the eastern part of the ditch part-filled in and consequently dry. Western half still water-filled. Later described as Norman ring work. Excavated by owner. Finds- typical 12th century assemblage of cooking pots, figure of eight bronze stirrup, wavy-edged horseshoes and fiddle key nails. Site is in garden of Stocks Farm about half a mile south of Berden. Bank and outer ditch encloses a saucer-shaped area, measuring c53m overall in diameter. The ditch is now 1.5m deep, waterfilled on the west. The east arm is dry but originally was wet. The bank is 2.9m above the base of the ditch. Within, from the base of the 'saucer' to the top of the bank, measures c1m. The only break in the bank is in the south side but there is no contemporary causeway across the ditch

A note on the back of a donated AP, dated August 1937, states: "Francis Colmer, 'Corndale', Hughenden Road, High Wycombe, Bucks. The interior has been used as a vegetable garden and is now grass. The moat has a fair quantity of water on one side of the circle and is dry on the other. The height of the ramp from the bottom of the fosse is from 10 to 12ft. The inner surface is considerably higher than the surrounding field level. Diameter of interior, exclusive of the inner ramp(?) is about 24 feet". Note on SMR sheet states that the owner excavated a pit on top of the mound and he has lots of finds in his kitchen. The site is isolated from centres of population (past or present). Ringworks and mottes tend to be built in an existing settlement or else form the nucleus of one. The bank and ditch are massive enough for defence, the bank being the more important feature. In 4 similar sites in East Anglia, 12th-13th century pottery has been found but not enabling the works to be precisely dated. Neither the excavator of this site nor the finds have been located. The earthwork is not definitely classifiable. (Unlocking Essex's Past)

Gatehouse Comments

An unskilled excavation made without proper report and the finds are now lost. However no doubt this was a defended site with Norman occupation and probably with consdierable work done post-Conquest although may have had earlier origin. The isolated site and relatively small suggests a farmstead rather than a manorial centre possible one held by a knightly tenant. This site and the similar nearby Rookery site should be compared with the C13 and C14 square moats of which there are numerous examples in Essex.

- 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 ReferenceTL469289
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  • Osbourne, Mike, 2013, Defending Essex (Stroud: The History Press) p. 24
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of East Anglia (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 23
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 142
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 107
  • RCHME, 1916, An inventory of the historical monuments in Essex Vol. 1 (north-west) p. 23 No. 2 online transcription
  • Gould, Chalkley, 1903, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Doubleday, Arthur and Page, Wm (eds), VCH Essex Vol. 1 p. 289, 311 online copy


  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • Knocker, G.M., 1952-60, 'The Rookery and ringwork at Berden, Essex' Essex Archaeological Society Transactions Vol. 25 p. 257, 261