Chalgrave Castle
Chalgrave Castle
Chalgrave Castle consists of the meagre remains of a 12th century motte and bailey. The site has been the subject of several archaeological excavations in conjunction with the Bedfordshire Archaeology Council.
Excavations revealed the remains of an 11th century manor house built of timber beneath the motte. It seems curious that the Norman castle mound was built on top of the earlier manor but that seems to be the case.

The castle was built in two distinct phases. It would seem that the first Norman lord of the manor imposed his authority on his new domain by building a fortification on top of part of an earlier dwelling. Before the end of the 11th century the motte was enlarged and a timber-framed building erected atop the mound.

The encircling ditch was also re-dug at the same time. This suggests that the Norman lord found the initial castle too small for comfort. Perhaps it had been thrown up hurriedly after the Conquest and later proved to be unsuitable for long-term habitation.

For reasons unknown the enlarged castle was abandoned in the late 12th or early 13th century, probably in favour of a new castle mound nearby.

After excavations on the castle site in 1970 it was levelled, and unfortunately there are very few visible remains on the site today. A footpath goes directly past the site, which is next to the medieval church of All Saints Chalgrave, which is itself worth a visit to see its medieval paintings.