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Gannocks Castle Tempsford

The entrance to the island February 2016
The entrance to the island February 2016

Gannocks Castle is a scheduled ancient monument [Number 1013419], first scheduled in 1929 and described by English Heritage as: “a well-preserved example of a defensive enclosure with important earlier historical connections. The substantial inner earthworks indicate the defensive nature of the site and are evidence of its overall good surviving condition”. It seems likely that this was the site of the medieval mansion of the Manor of Tempsford which stood on the island formed by the surrounding moat..

The site measures 65 metres by 55 metres and includes a 10 metre-wide and 2.5 metre-deep moat which surrounds the defences. Entrance to the interior was and is provided by a slight causeway across the moat at the north-eastern corner. In this north-east corner is a small mound measuring 7 metres across and may represent a tower. The English Heritage entry states: “The site is believed to be built on the same spot as an earlier Danish fortress referred to in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as being constructed in 921 AD and captured later that year by [King] Edward the Elder [899-924]”. A more modern interpretation of the date of the construction of the fortress is 917.

The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for Gannocks Castle [HER 761] notes that a geophysical survey in 2004 revealed traces of internal structures on the island.

The Friends of Gannocks Castle was formed in 2003 and worked with Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity and Bedfordshire County Council to clear the site which had become overgrown and very neglected. As well as opening up the site wildflowers were planted and information boards provided so that today [2017] the site is an attractive place to visit.

The moat at Gannocks February 2016
The moat at Gannocks February 2016