Eynsford Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameEynsford Castle
Alternative NamesEynesford; Ainsford
Historic CountryKent
Modern AuthorityKent
1974 AuthorityKent
Civil ParishEynsford

Eynsford Castle survives well, having remained almost completely undisturbed since its partial destruction in the 14th century. The site is unusual in being an early example of an enclosure castle as well as being of a rare form. Partial excavation has demonstrated that the site contains archaeological remains and environmental evidence which relate to the construction, use and eventual destruction of the castle as well as giving an insight into the economy and way of life of its inhabitants. The monument includes an enclosure castle situated on the east bank of the River Darent, the valley of which cuts through an area of gently undulating chalk downland. The castle has an inner ward constructed on a low oval platform, enclosed by a curtain wall with a moat to the north, east and south. The central platform on which the castle buildings were constructed is c.2m above the surrounding ground level and measures 61m north-south and 40m east-west. The curtain wall survives as upstanding masonry c.8.8m high, constructed of coursed flintwork c.1.8m thick at the base. The north west segment has collapsed but remains where it fell. Within the ward are the ruined remains and buried foundations of a 12th- century hall block, the undercrofts of which still survive. This was a free- standing building, 22m east-west by 13m north-south, in the northern half of the ward and was mainly constructed from reused Roman tile probably brought from Lullingstone or Farningham. A stair and porch were built on the south side of the building and a later kitchen was constructed between the hall and the curtain wall to the north. The 12th-century kitchen was located in the west corner of the ward and a gate-tower was situated on the south east side at the main entrance to the castle. To the north, east and south of the curtain wall lies the moat which, although having become partially infilled over the years, is visible as an earthwork feature up to 16m wide and 1.5m deep

To the west the castle was protected by the river. Access to the castle was gained by way of a bridge leading across the moat in the south east to the gate-tower. The curtain wall is believed to have been constructed c.1090 by William de Eynsford, possibly on the site of an earlier earthwork castle with a timber watch-tower. Although such a site is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, traces of a central wooden building, contemporary with the early phase of the curtain wall, have been discovered during excavations. The hall, gate-tower and heightened curtain wall are ascribed to William II in c.1130, with the reconstructed hall and new kitchens dating to c.1230. Documentary evidence records a complaint about the doors and windows of the castle having been broken down, damage committed and stock let loose. This resulted in the dismantling of the structures inside the curtain wall in or just before 1312. Partial excavation took place in 1835 and further excavations were carried out between 1953 and 1971 during the conservation of the monument. These revealed the internal structure and accommodation areas within the curtain wall as well as confirming the 14th-century destruction of the castle. (Scheduling Report)

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 ReferenceTQ541658
Latitude51.3705101013184
Longitude0.213469997048378
Eastings554170
Northings165820
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright James Stringer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright James Stringer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright James Stringer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright James Stringer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright James Stringer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright James Stringer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright James Stringer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright James Stringer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

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Books

  • Osbourne, Mike, 2012, Defending London (Stroud: The History Press) p. 26-7
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 174
  • Elliot, Julia (ed), 2005, Heritage Unlocked; Guide to free sites in London and the South East (London: English Heritage) p. 24-5
  • Salter, Mike, 2000, The Castles of Kent (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 42-3
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 120
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 31, 53, 54, 57, 60, 184, 356
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 231
  • Guy, John, 1980, Kent Castles (Meresborough Books)
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 229-30
  • Smithers, David Waldron, 1980, Castles in Kent (Chatham)
  • Newman, John, 1976, Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald (Harmondsworth) p. 280
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 185-7
  • Toy, Sidney, 1953, The Castles of Great Britain (Heinemann) p. 155-6
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Gould, I. Chalkley, 1908, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Kent Vol. 1 p. 430 online copy
  • Sands, Harold, 1907, 'Some Kentish Castles' in Ditchfield and Clinch, Memorials of Old Kent (London) p. 185-9 online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 21 online copy
  • Hasted, Edward, 1797 (2edn), The history and topographical survey of the county of Kent Vol. 2 p. 527- online transcription

Journals

  • Horsman, Valerie, 1988, 'Eynsford Castle: A reinterpretation of its early history in the light of recent excavations' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 105 p. 39-58 online copy
  • Rigold, S.E., 1975, 'Structural aspects of medieval timber bridges' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 19 p. 48-91 online copy
  • Rigold, S.E., 1973 'Timber bridges at English castles and moated sites' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 6 p. 183-194
  • Rigold, S.E. and Fleming, A.J., 1973, 'Eynsford Castle: The Moat and Bridge' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 88 p. 87-116 online copy
  • Rigold, S.E., 1971, 'Eynsford Castle and its Excavation' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 86 p. 109-171 online copy
  • Wilson, D.M. and Hurst, J.G., 1967, 'Medieval Britain in 1966' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 11 p. 285 download copy
  • Wilson, D.M. and Hurst, J.G., 1965, 'Medieval Britain in 1964' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 9 p. 190 download copy
  • Wilson, D.M. and Hurst, J.G., 1962/3, 'Medieval Britain in 1961' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 6-7 p. 322 download copy
  • Wilson, D.M. and Hurst, J.G., 1957, 'Medieval Britain in 1956' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 1 p. 156-7 download copy
  • Wood, M., 1935, 'Norman Domestic Architecture' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 92 p. 167-242 esp 190 online copy
  • Gresy, E., 1838, 'Eynsford Castle, in the county of Kent' Archaeologia Vol. 27 p. 391-7 online copy

Guide Books

  • Rigold, S.E., 1984, Eynsford Castle, Kent (London: English Heritage)
  • Rigold, S.E., 1963, Eynsford Castle, Kent (HMSO)

Primary Sources

  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 270-1