Rampton Castle (Giant’s Hill), Cambridgeshire….

Rampton Castle (also known as Giant’s Hill) in the Cambridgeshire village of Rampton is another Anarchy castle built during the civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda between 1135 and 1154. The castle at Rampton was never completed and is likely to have been abandoned when in 1144 Geoffrey de Mandeville, the Earl of Essex and leader of a rebellion against King Stephen in the East, attacked Burwell Castle, was injured and later died at Mildenhall.

With Geoffrey’s death, there was no longer a need for the castle at Rampton to contain Geoffrey’s rebellion, and thus the site was abandoned. Spoil heaps as earthworks can be seen on the site at Rampton where the castle was never completed.

Rampton Castle consists of a rectangular platform, surrounded by a wet moat that is 50ft wide on the south, east and north sides, on the west side, the moat is 120ft wide. The platform is 150ft long and 135ft wide and is accessed by a causeway at the south west corner of the platform. No stone ruins have been found on the site related to the castle, so it is assumed construction would have been of wood.

The castle is on land owned by Cambridgeshire County Council and is open to the general public all year.

Moat and Platform, Rampton Castle
Moat and Platform, Rampton Castle
The Moat from the Platform, Rampton Castle
The Moat from the Platform, Rampton Castle
Platform, Rampton Castle
Platform, Rampton Castle
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Burwell Castle, Cambridgeshire…

Burwell Castle dates to the Anarchy and was built by King Stephen on the site of a former Roman villa in 1143. It formed part of a string of castles that were built by the king to protect the region. Other such castles were erected at Lidgate, Rampton, Swavesey and Caxton.

The castle was never completed but it consisted of a small motte, a rectangular earthwork, a gatehouse a curtain wall and moat. It was constructed out of stone and wood.

During the Anarchy, Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, was dispossessed of his lands and rose up in revolt against King Stephen. The earl based himself at nearby Ely from where he attacked Burwell Castle in 1144. It was during this attack that the earl was hit by a crossbow bolt. The attack was unsuccessful and following the battle, the earl retired to Mildenhall where he later died from his injury.

Following Geoffrey de Mandeville’s death, the castle at Burwell was never finished, though it has been suggested that the site remained occupied until the 15th Century and was then abandoned. Substantial earthworks can be seen to the present day.

The castle is on land owned by Burwell Parish Council and is free to visit.

Burwell Castle, Earthworks
Burwell Castle, Earthworks
Platform and Moat, Burwell Castle
Platform and Moat, Burwell Castle
Platform and Moat, Burwell Castle
Platform and Moat, Burwell Castle

Huntingdon Castle, Cambridgeshire..

Huntingdon Castle is a motte and bailey castle located in the historic market town of Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire. The Norman castle itself was began in 1068 by William the Conqueror, however, the site itself is likely to have been used by the Saxons prior to the Norman invasion as a defensible earthwork of some nature. There are records Edward the Elder building some sort of fortification in Huntingdon in 917.

The castle was probably mainly timber in construction though there has been some suggestions that the castle was in fact a shell keep built out of masonry, though there has been no evidence found to support this.

During the Great Anarchy, the castle was held by David, King of Scotland, who supported the Empress Matilda and it was greatly damaged at this time. After the Anarchy, the castle at Huntingdon passed to David’s on him paying homage to King Stephen.

Huntingdon Castle was ordered to be dismantled after coming under siege during the Revolt of 1173-1174. The castle site was refortified during the English Civil War and was later used as a prison. The site was then cleared and the castle mound itself was used for the siting of a windmill. The castle is now a park.

Huntingdon Castle motte.
Huntingdon Castle motte.
Huntingdon Castle bailey.
Huntingdon Castle bailey.