Stamford Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameStamford Castle
Alternative NamesStanford; Stamforde
Historic CountryLincolnshire
Modern AuthorityLincolnshire
1974 AuthorityLincolnshire
Civil ParishStamford

Stamford Castle was built soon after the Norman conquest. By the later 14th century it had begun to fall into ruin and by 1600 no buildings remained apart from the east section of the hall which remained in use as the Court Leet until the 19th century and still stands. The motte was levelled in the 1930s to make way for a bus station. (Lincolnshire HER)

The Scheduled area of the castle includes the remains of the hall, solar and undercroft beneath them which were uncovered during excavations in the 1970s, as well as the standing remains. The hall range dates from the 12th century and underwent several alterations before it was probably abandoned (along with the rest of the castle) by the mid 14th century. The hall itself was basically square with massive foundations and pier bases due to the instability of the ground. Rebuilding and repairs seem to have been necessary throughout its lifetime. It had a doorway to the north. The solar block was rectangular with a thick south wall pierced by three windows. The upper floor was supported on columns, the bases of which remain, and there was a fireplace on the upper floor. There was also a projecting porch at the north west corner. The standing building is constructed of rubble and has three splayed arches of 14th century date. The centre one contains a studded door with a wooden lintel which has been inserted into the arch. Internally there are three corresponding chamfered and moulded 14th century arches with damaged headstops and moulded columns (Scheduling Report).

The standing remains consist of corner buildings in rubble, of early appearance, which are now used as outhouses. They are probably the remains of the Great Hall

For the full description and the legal address of this listed building please refer to the appropriate List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest (Listed Building Report).

Stamford castle was built shortly after the Norman conquest and was a motte and bailey structure. It was situated on the crest and slope of the Welland valley in a large area to the south of Sheepmarket. Domesday Book records that five houses were destroyed to make way for it. It was besieged twice and finally captured during the civil wars of the mid 12th century. It remained in use throughout the 13th century but by 1340 it was described as ‘old, and the walls decayed; within are an old tower, a great hall, a chamber with a solar, a chapel, a turret, and a house for a prison, all of no value beyond outgoings’. The buildings continued to deteriorate and by 1600 none remained. A small room had been formed from the east end of the hall and this was used for the Court Leet. It was still marked as such on a map of 1833 and it is now the only standing remains of the castle. The earthwork motte mound was levelled in 1936 to make way for a bus station. During the levelling a circular rubble structure was revealed which may have been a circular keep standing within a ringwork (the 'old tower' referred to in 1340). A length of 12th century ashlar wall was also seen a short distance away. This may be related to a massive ashlar wall found in the 19th century. Limited excavations were carried out in the 1930s but these produced little information. A 12th-13th century well was excavated in 1962 (Mahany 1983; RCHME 1977)

Excavations were carried out in the bailey area during several seasons from 1971 to 1976, in advance of housing development. The western area of the site contained two and part of a third small stone-built grain drying kilns which would have been used to dry grain prior to bread-making or malting, or for drying other commodities such as beans or flax. A small-scale domestic complex including a solar, an undercroft and a complex garderobe pit was also discovered in this area. The garderobe contained a good deal of refuse material including food bones, rats, a cat and her kittens and part of a human baby. This area was tentatively interpreted as a self-contained suite of rooms associated with baking and brewing. The central area contained two buildings flanking a courtyard. The northern building was a small square structure with a double door opening towards the east. The function of this building was not evident, although it was suggested that it could have been the castle prison. The building to the south survived in fragmentary form but had a southward facing apse. The slightness of its construction and its location suggest that it was not part of the curtain wall, although its plan resembles a tower. Its orientation seems wrong for a chapel, although a broken fragment of coffin was found nearby. At present the function of this building remains unknown. The eastern area of the site contained the main hall complex which consisted of an aisled hall, a room to the west which may have been a solar, and a cellar to the east. The whole complex had been continually altered and remodelled throughout its history from the mid 12th to the mid 14th century. This is probably due to problems of subsidence and unstability, particularly in the south wall, caused by earlier quarrying and possibly an earlier ditch. Beneath the hall complex was a group of three small buildings with ovens, perhaps a bakery. The first hall was an almost square double-aisled building with the roof supported by four large irregular piers. The possible solar and cellar were added after this, at which time the hall gained two extra piers and had a central hearth. Later, the hall was narrowed by rebuilding the north and south walls closer together and the piers were reduced and resited. The solar was also improved at this time with the addition of a first floor (it had previously been open from ground level to roof) with a fireplace and a porch. A garderobe pit was also added to the ground floor. After this, an extra building was added to the west of the solar and a courtyard or garden was added to the north. The cellar was removed and the hall extended over it to the east and transformed into a single-aisled structure. An arcade, which partially survives today, was added at the east end of the hall, presumably leading to a screens passage. Finally the walled garden or courtyard was subdivided to provide another room on the west with a wooden floor and a porch was added to the hall. A small gold ring with a garnet setting and an inscribed band was recovered from the solar garderobe (Manany 1983). (Lincolnshire HER)

Excavations at Stamford Castle between 1972 and 1976 have revealed evidence of Saxo-Norman quarrying and 12th to 14th century structures including 2 main groups of stone buildings. A hall, undercroft and garderobes, together with grain drying kilns were discovered to the west of the bailey. The hall complex was discovered in the south-east corner of the bailey. Deposits relating to a 9th century pottery kiln were found to the north of the hall. Beneath the hall, and extending to the north, were the ditches of a 9th century enclosure (East Midlands Bulletin 1978). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Stamford was, in the C11, part of Rutland but was rapidly absorbed into Lincolnshire.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTF028070
Latitude52.6507911682129
Longitude-0.48115000128746
Eastings502800
Northings307000
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Jo Turner and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Osborne, Mike, 2010, Defending Lincolnshire: A Military History from Conquest to Cold War (The History Press) p. 21, 22, 25, 35, 37, 40
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 62-3
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 145
  • Roffe, David, 1993, 'Castles' in Bennett, S. and Bennett, N. (eds), An Historical Atlas of Lincolnshire (University of Hull Press) p. 40-1
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford)
  • Drage, C., 1987, 'Urban castles' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 117-32 online copy
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 263
  • Mahany, C., Burchard, A. and Simpson, G., 1982, Excavation in Stamford, Lincolnshire 1963-1969 (London: Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph 9)
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 302
  • RCHME, 1977, 'Castle' and 'Town walls' in An Inventory of Historical Monuments: the Town of Stamford (HMSO) p. 3-5 online transcription
  • Mahany, C., 1977, 'Stamford Castle' Archaeological Excavations 1976 (HMSO) p. 131
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 315
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1964, Buildings of England: Lincolnshire (Harmondsworth) p. 663
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 216-7 online copy
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 338-40 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 11-4 online copy

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Richard Nevell, 2014-15, 'Castles as prisons' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 28 p. 203-224
  • 2013 Sept, 'Remains of Stamford Castle sold at auction' Castle Studies Group Bulletin Vol. 16 p. 14 (news report)
  • Evely, J., 2013 Feb 9, 'Outcry as Stamford castle wall put up for auction' Rutland and Stamford Mercury (news report) online copy
  • Creighton, O.H., 2000, 'The Medieval Castles of Rutland: Field Archaeology and Landscape History' Rutland Record Vol. 20 p. 415-24
  • Creighton, O.H., 1999, 'Early Castles in the Medieval Landscape of Rutland' Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 73 p. 20 online copy
  • Harfield, C.G., 1991, 'A Hand-list of Castles Recorded in the Domesday Book' English Historical Review Vol. 106 p. 371-392 view online copy (subscription required)
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 310
  • Mahany, C. and Roffe, D., 1986, 'Stamford and the Norman Conquest' Lincolnshire History and Archaeology Vol. 21 p. 5-9
  • Mahany, C., 1985, 'Stamford Castle' Archaeology in Lincolnshire 1984–1985 p. 27–9
  • Mahany, C. and Roffe, D., 1982, 'Stamford: the Development of an Anglo-Scandinavian Borough' Proceedings of the Battle Conference on Anglo-Norman Studies Vol. 5 p. 197-219 online transcription
  • Mahany, C., 1978, 'Stamford Castle and Town' South Lincolnshire Archaeology Vol. 2 p. 1-32 (whole issue)
  • Mahany, C., 1978, 'Stamford Castle' East Midlands Archaeological Bulletin Vol. 12 p. 35
  • Mahany, C., 'Stamford - castle' Current Archaeology Vol. 49 p. 53-
  • Mahany, C., 1977, 'Excavations at Stamford Castle, 1971-6' Château Gaillard Vol. 8 p. 223-45
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1977, 'Medieval Britain in 1976' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 21 p. 235-7 download copy
  • Mahany, C., 1975, 'Excavations at Stamford Castle 1974' Lincolnshire History and Archaeology Vol. 10 p. 61
  • Mahany, C., 1976, 'Stamford (castle)' Lincolnshire History and Archaeology Vol. 11 p. 61
  • (Mahany), 1973, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 17 p. 161-2 download copy
  • 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)
  • Hurst, J.G., 1957, 'Saxon-Norman Pottery in East Anglia' Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society Vol. 51 p. 45-8 online copy
  • 1932-3, Report of the Congress of Archaeological Societies p. 20 (note on ring-wall)
  • Armitage, E., 1904, 'The Early Norman Castles of England' English Historical Review Vol. 19 p. 209-245, 417-455 esp. 434 online copy
  • Hope, W.H.St J., 1903, 'English Fortresses and Castles of the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 60 p. 85 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. 208 online copy

Guide Books

  • Stamford Civic Society, 2008, Site of Stamford Castle (Interpretation board) online copy

Primary Sources

  • 1086, Domesday Book online copy
  • Stubbs, W. (ed), 1879, The Chronicle of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II, and Richard I, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls series 73) Vol. 1 p. 156 online copy
  • Potter, G.R. (ed), 1955, Gesta Stephani (Nelson) p. 155
  • Stubbs, W. (ed), 1880, The Minor Works comprising the Gesta regum with its continuation, the Actus pontificum, and the Mappa mundi, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls series 73) Vol. 2 p. 430 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 295
  • C145/139(20) (Survey of 1340) The National Archives reference (calendared in Maxwell Lyte, H.C., 1916, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 2 p. 418 No. 1703 [online copy > https://archive.org/stream/calendarofinqu02grea#page/418/mode/1up])

Other

  • Fradley, Michael, 2011, The Old in the New: Urban Castle Imposition in Anglo-Norman England, AD1050-1150 (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) available via EThOS