Eaton Socon Castle Hills

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameEaton Socon Castle Hills
Alternative NamesThe Hillings
Historic CountryBedfordshire
Modern AuthorityCambridgeshire
1974 AuthorityCambridgeshire
Civil ParishSt Neots

Ringwork and bailey with partly overlying Saxon cemetery and settlement identified from excavations. A large horse-shoe ditch enclosing on the river side two sub-rectangular wards. Excavated 1949/50. In the northern ward were found at least 40 Saxon burials (associated with St Neots pottery) and there had probably been there a settlement and a Church (stone and mortar debris was found overlying the burials) defended by the horseshoe ditch which appears earlier than the other earthworks. (PastScape)

Well defined earthwork under grass. There are many rabbits. The earthwork is situated between the church and the River Ouse and consists of three baileys with the inner bailey on the S side containing a small motte. The whole complex is surrounded by a fosse; the two inner baileys are surrounded by and separated by a second fosse or moat which is not continuous. The ditches and banks are massive on the N or earthwork side and lower on the river side. The whole of the scheduled area lies in the grounds of Castle Hills House and has been recently landscaped, and is for the greater part under much grass with the exception of the bailey banks, which are under rough grass with some mature trees, mostly hawthorn. There has been extensive recent replanting both on the outer moat bank and also on the inner banks. Most of the trees appear to be of smaller ornamental varieties including laurel, cherry etc., however there are also a considerable number of beech, poplar etc. The outer moat runs from the middle of the N side to three quarters of the way round the S side . It is flat bottomed and approximately 3 - 4m wide through most of its length. The ground has been dug for vegetables on the NE corner of the site and the bank slightly cut into by the patio and house extension W of this. A rose bed has been planted on the bank where the moat runs out

The N most bailey is rectangular and measures approximately 55m x 20m the banks to the NW are approximately 3m high on the interior face. There is evidence of animal disturbance possibly fox on the exterior of the N bank. The S bailey appears almost circular measuring 30m across with the interior banks to the NW approximately 2m in height. Evidence of extensive mole activity on the motte. Two flower beds to the S of the motte, that to the SE planted with roses, to the SW planted with trees. Building material noted in the soil. The inner moat is wet, to the S and W crossed by a berm and dry to N and between the inner bailey. Banks are maximum 12m approximately to ditch bottom. (Camb SMR ?English Heritage Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Harvey list Eaton Socon twice once in Bedfordshire and once in Cambridgeshire.

- 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 ReferenceTL173589
Latitude52.2157783508301
Longitude-0.283789992332459
Eastings517330
Northings258900
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Duncan Grey and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

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Books

  • Petre, James Scott, 2012, The Castles of Bedfordshire (Lavenham: Lavenham Press for Shaun Tyas) p. 62-3 (plan)
  • 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. 219
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of East Anglia (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 18
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 4 (slight)
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 355
  • Taylor, Alison, 1986, Castles of Cambridgeshire (Cambridge)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 5
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 226
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 182
  • Godber, J., 1969, History of Bedfordshire (Bedford) p. 24
  • Wadmore, Beauchamp, 1920, The Earthworks of Bedfordshire (Bedford) p. 99-103
  • Fowler, G.H., 1914, 'The Beauchamps, barons of Eaton' in F.A. Page Turner (ed) Miscellanea (Bedfordshire Historical Record Society 2) p. 61-72
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1912, 'Parishes: Eaton Socon' VCH Bedfordshire Vol. 3 p. 189-202 (mainly manorial history online transcription
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Allcroft, A. Hadrian, 1908, Earthwork of England (London) p. 436 online copy
  • Goddard, A.R., 1904, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Doubleday, H.Arthur and Page, Wm (eds), VCH Bedfordshire Vol. 1 p. 297-300
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1897, Castles of England Vol. 1 p. 139 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1884, Mediaeval Military Architecture in England (Wyman and Sons) Vol. 2 p. 36-8 online copy
  • King, Edward, 1804, Munimenta antiqua or Observations on antient castles (W.Bulmer and Co) Vol. 3 p. 264-5 online copy

Antiquarian

  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 23
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1909, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 4 p. 22 online copy

Journals

  • Creighton, O.H., 2004, ''The Rich Man in his Castle, The Poor Man at His Gate': Castle Baileys and Settlement Patterns in Norman England' Cha^teau Gaillard Vol. 21 p. 25-36
  • Baker, D., 1982, 'Mottes, Moats and ringworks in Bedfordshire: Beauchamp Wadmore revisited' Château Gaillard Vol. 9-10 p. 35-54
  • Addyman, P.V., 1965, 'Late Saxon settlements in the St Neots area I: The Saxon settlement and Norman castle at Eaton Socon' Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society Vol. 58 p. 38-73 online copy
  • Hurst, D.G., 1964, 'Medieval Britain in 1962 and 1963, II. Post Conquest' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 8 p. 282 download copy
  • Dyer, J.F., 1962-3, 'Bedfordshire Earthworks VIII, The Castles: Part One' Bedfordshire magazine Vol. 8 no. 63 p. 347 (slight)
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Lethbridge, T.C. and Tebbutt, C.T., 1951, 'Excavations on the castle site known as "The Hillings" at Eaton Socon, Bedfordshire' Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society Vol. 45 p. 48-61 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 199 online copy
  • Clark, 1874, The Builder Vol. 32 p. 431-2 (reprinted in MMA)

Primary Sources

  • 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. 449-50