Clavering Castle in Essex was one of the first castles that was built in England. Being a pre-conquest castle, Clavering Castle is significant in that it is one of only four possible castles built in England prior to 1066.
Sometimes referred to as ‘Robert castle’, it was began by Robert FitzWimarc, who was a Norman kinsman of Edward the Confessor. Robert came to England with Edward when he returned from exile in Normandy in 1041. Believed to have been of Norman-Breton heritage, Robert would go on to serve both Edward and his Norman successor, William the Conqueror. He is also notable as he appeared in the Bayeux Tapestry as being present at Edward’s death.
Clavering Castle is not of the usual motte and bailey design that is so often associated with Norman castles. It is instead a ringwork. Its defences would have consisted of a fortified enclosure (usually circular), that would have been surrounded by an earthen bank topped with either a wooden palisade or at a later point a stone wall. A deep ditch would have then surrounded this bank and palisade/wall.
There are no physical remains at Clavering other than some substantial earthworks. The earthworks at Clavering consist of enclosure which is 150m in diameter east-west by 100m north-south, that is roughly rectangular in shape. There are some remnants of the surrounding ditch which are waterfilled. In the interior of the enclosure, there are earthworks associated with buildings that would have formed part of the castle and later robber trenches from where stonework has been robbed away for building use locally. Many of the earthworks that are visible are thought to date from the 12th Century and to overlay the earlier ringwork remnants.
There are some later earthworks on the site of the castle from a watermill. It is also believed that the site of the castle may have been used during the Iron Age as a fort.
Clavering Castle is on private land but is viewable from a public footpath.