Wadenhoe Castle Close

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Ringwork), and also as a Possible Uncertain

There are earthwork remains

NameWadenhoe Castle Close
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough
Modern AuthorityNorthamptonshire
1974 AuthorityNorthamptonshire
Civil ParishWadenhoe

Fortified site and settlement remains (TL 00928331; Fig. 110; Plates 7 and 8), immediately N.E. of the now isolated church of St. Michael and All Angels, and S.W. of the village. They are situated on the E. end of a low promontory of lime stone, bounded on the S.E. by the R. Nene and on the N.W. by a now dry valley, between 110 ft. and 125 ft. above OD.

The site is traditionally that of a castle and the name Castle Close, near the church, is recorded (J. Morton, Nat. Hist. of Northants., (1712), 55; J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 288). There is, however, no mention of a medieval castle in the parish in either local or national records, and recently the site has been described as 'disused quarries' (OS Record Cards). Nevertheless, as recorded below, there is evidence on the ground of a once-continuous limestone rampart around the spur, which has been cut into by later buildings. The date of the rampart is unknown but it is possibly pre-Conquest. The name of the village has been interpreted as 'Wada's spur of land' (PN Northants., (1933), 222–3). By the late 13th century the area seems to have lain within a deer park.

The hill-slope itself has been artificially steepened on all sides, with a limestone rubble rampart erected along it. The rampart is best preserved at the N.W. ('a' on Fig. 110) where it still survives up to 1.5 m. high. Further E. it has been damaged by later buildings cutting through it and butting against it ('b', 'c' and 'd' on Fig. 110). It reappears at the extreme E. end of the spur ('e' on Fig. 110) and can be traced as a low bank to the W.; it then disappears but emerges again near the S.W

corner as a large bank up to 1 m. high. The rampart terminates abruptly at an apparent entrance into the interior. An access track or terrace, which runs from the village street in the E. along the side of the natural hillside on the N., swings round to the entrance in the S.W. corner. The interior is much disturbed by later digging, but in addition to the well-marked building-platforms ('b', 'c' and 'd' on Fig. 110) already noted, there is another large platform on the crest of the hill ('f') and a large triangular yard or paddock ('g'). No finds have been made but medieval pottery has been recovered from graves in the churchyard. (RAF VAP 544/602, 4083–4) (RCHME)

The village is slightly shrunken; to the W near the isolated church is an exceptionally fine ringwork on a very prominent defensible spur overlooking the river Nene. (Hall 1975)

Gatehouse Comments

This is a natural spur strengthened by artificial earthworks into a moderately sized defensible enclosure. The parish church lies adjacent. Clearly this was used as the manorial centre and the only question is the original date of the artificial earthworks. Regardless of their original date, and they may have been repaired, strengthened or otherwise altered, this site must have functioned in a manner identical to a Norman ringwork castle in medieval period. This probably represents the manor held by the de Vere family as sub-tenants for half a knight's fee.

- 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 ReferenceTL009833
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  • 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. 253-4
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 319
  • RCHME, 1975, An inventory of the historical monuments in the County of Northampton Vol. 1: North-east Northamptonshire (HMSO) p. 102-3 plate 7, 8 online transcription
  • Page, Wm, (ed), 1930, VCH Northamptonshire Vol. 3 p. 149-52 (tenurial history) online transcription
  • Bridges, John, 1791, The History and Antiquities of Northamptonshire (Oxford) Vol. 1 p. 388
  • Morton, John, 1712, _The Natural History of Northamptonshire_ (London) p. 551 online copy


  • Hall, David, 1975, South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 5 p. 28 online copy


  • 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. 568-69