My Favourite History Place: Mountfitchet Castle


By Alf Wilkinson, published 6th September 2012

In the first of an occasional series Alf Wilkinson, HA CPD Manager, explores Mountfitchet Castle, in Essex - his favourite history place.

As every schoolchild knows, William the Conqueror landed near Hastings in 1066, pursuing his claim to the throne of England. He was accompanied by the Pope's blessing, but also by an army of adventurers who had been promised land and wealth if the invasion was successful. After defeating the Saxons William had to impose his authority on England, and this he did by allocating land to his followers and encouraging them to build motte and bailey castles. During his 20 year reign over 80 were built, some being completed in less than 20 days. Of course the Normans didn't do the building - the local peasants were forced to labour away until the castle was completed. Today we are used to visiting great stone castles, like Beaumaris or Harlech, which are the high point of the castle-builders' art. Yet Mountfitchet is completely different, it is the only wooden motte and bailey castle in the world to have been reconstructed on its original site...

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