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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 1664: summary

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Archaeological monitoring and historic building recording at Hedingham Castle, Castle Hedingham, Essex, CO9 3DG: March-April 2021
by Mark Baister

Date report completed: 13/05/2021
Location: Hedingham Castle, Castle Hedingham, Essex, CO9 3DG
Map reference(s): TL 78699 35868 (centre)
File size: 6599 kb
Project type: Monitoring
Significance of the results:
Keywords: Castle Hedingham

Summary. A programme of archaeological monitoring and historic building recording was carried out at Hedingham Castle, Castle Hedingham, Essex, in advance of the installation of a new lightning conductor and the repair of a section of the keepís wall. The monitoring uncovered nothing of archaeological interest.

The section of keep wall is clearly the location of a repair or infilling. It is largely constructed of reused Tudor and Norman building materials, including bricks, tiles, limestone ashlar and clunch, all bonded in lime mortar. Its composite nature is in sharp contrast to the regular ashlar blocks facing the majority of the keep. At the top of the section of wall is a window opening.

Given the location of the wall section (immediately above the keepís first-floor entrance) it could be suggested that it is the location of a, since blocked, second-floor entrance into the fore-building. However, drawings of the keep from the 18th and 19th centuries fail to show any evidence of an entranceway or infilling in this location until 1831, around 100 years after the partial demolition of the fore-building. These same drawings also show the window-opening in this location with a carved stone surround, in much the same design as the other windows on the keep. There is no evidence of this surround today: the window-opening is formed by a brick arch and clunch.

Consequently then, it seems likely that this repair work is the result of the collapse of the carved window-surround and subsequent attempts to stabilise the section of wall. Although many of the window-surrounds on the keep have been the subject of repairs in this fashion, the damage here is by far the most extensive. This is almost certainly due to the presence of the void for the portcullis above the first-floor entrance.