Torpel Castle Ringwork

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameTorpel Castle Ringwork
Alternative NamesHelpston; Thorpell; Torpel Manor Field
Historic CountryNorthamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough
Modern AuthorityPeterborough; City of
1974 AuthorityCambridgeshire
Civil ParishBainton

Ringwork and bailey with adjacent earthworks of a deserted Medieval village. Site of a manor house. (PastScape)

APs show a motte and bailey with adjacent steadings. Torpel manor is first mentioned in 1198 and a hamlet is noted in 1276. No village tenants are noted in 1605. The situation of the village and castle are confirmed on a late C16 map. An earthworks complex comprising a ring motte with double bailey and adjacent amorphous remains of desertion. R5, This appears to be the site of a manor house with adjoining enclosures. It occupies a roughly rectangular field and is surrounded by a bank up to 1.0m high. A break in the bank on the W side may be recent, but the entrance on the E side is probably original. Fragments of Med pottery, including Stamford ware, have been found in adjacent fields. Ring and Bailey. Prior to the erection of an electricity power line, rapid rescue work was carried out on the ground in the process of being covered by a pylon. The remains located consisted of part of a stone building and pottery belonging essentially to the C12 and C14. There was also a scatter of C16 - C17 pottery. The site is large, well preserved, and the sample may give a false impression as the area involved was so small. Details of the site have been sent to the DOE together with a strong recommendation that it should be scheduled. Impressive earthwork remains of a manorial complex survive under old pasture in a field to the W of Helpston village. The main feature is a moated platform some 10ft high, presumably the site of the Great Hall. In the centre of the area are some 9 rectangular depressions, probably buildings, ponds etc. All surrounded by a bank up to 3ft high. In good condition apart from pylon recently erected. Moated platform appears approx 65m x 55m. To SW of platform a slight depression surrounded by a higher bank. In this area a few old hawthorn trees and patches of nettles. Pond to S holds water

A linear depression runs NW - SE across site appearing to line up with castle site to N. Earthworks in good condition apart from some slight mole disturbance. (City of Peterborough HER)

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 ReferenceTF110053
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Taylor, Alison, 1986, Castles of Cambridgeshire (Cambridge)
  • Serjeantson, R.M., Ryland, W. and Adkins, D. (eds),1906, VCH Northamptonshire Vol. 2 p. 461 (history of de Torpels and manor) p. 533-5 online copy
  • Bridges, J., 1791, History and Antiquities of Northamptonshire Vol. 2 p. 600-602


  • Michael Fradley, Steve Ashby and Aleksandra McClain, 2014, 'An Earthwork Survey at Torpel Manor Field (Cambridgeshire)' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 29 p. 60-63
  • McClain, Aleks, 2013, 'Torpel Manor Field, Cambridgeshire New survey work lead by the University of York' Medieval Archaeology Newsletter Issue 50 p. 2 (brief news report)
  • Challands, A., 1978, 'Archaeology in Northamptonshire 1977' Northamptonshire Archaeology Vol. 13 p. 186 download from ArchLib
  • Crowther, F., 1976, Durobrivae: a review of Nene Valley Archaeology Vol. 4 p. 28-29
  • Irvine, J.T., 1892, 'Castle at Barnack' Northamptonshire Notes and Queries Vol. 4 p. 140-1 online copy