Discovery of Mountfitchet Castle
After the attack on the Castle around 1215 by King John the castle was left to lay in ruins for many years and over time the stones were stolen by the villagers to build their houses. As you travel around the village of Stansted today you can still see flint walls and houses made from the Castle’s stones.
This Motte and Bailey castle site lay forgotten for over 750 years and was soon taken over by nature and covered in dense scrub, trees, brambles and bushes and was totally hidden until 1975 when the owner, Alan Goldsmith, had a dream to rebuild and restore the castle to its former glory.
The grounds were cleared to reveal the original earthworks and mounds and after years of battling with planners, in 1980 the work began to reconstruct Mountfitchet Castle. Leading historians, archaeologists and craftsmen were drafted in from all over the country to make the castle as accurate and authentic as possible. The English oak for the palisade and village buildings was sourced from Suffolk and the reed for the roof makers (Thatchers) came from Norfolk. The roofs were constructed of wood, turf and wheat straw, all of which was used by the Normans. Authentic wattle and daub plaster was recreated using pigs manure and horse hair and applied to all the buildings. Specialist Blacksmiths and Carpenters were employed to recreate the metal work and woodwork that was involved in the reconstruction of all the buildings and accessories including intricate wood carvings, metal chains, railings, gates, pins, hinges, shackles, cut nails, armour and tools to mention a few.
A geophysics survey placed where high nitrogen deposits were found indicating a dwelling or an activity over many years. The houses were placed carefully upon the ground so as not to disturb the archaeology.
After many years of work, the restoration of Mountfitchet Castle was complete and was opened to the public in 1985 and is unique as being the only wooden Motte and Bailey reconstruction on its original site anywhere in the world.
The animals that roam freely through-out our 10 acre site are of the breeds the Normans would have kept within the Castle’s grounds. Deer, goats, sheep, domestic fowl, rabbits and fresh fish and oysters were all invaluable to the Normans diet. Not only were the Fallow deer kept for food but were also a huge status symbol for the resident Baron, the more deer he kept, the higher his status became. Domestic fowl were also a huge commodity; excellent sources of meat, eggs and feathers, even their bones were used for tools and jewellery! Fish and oysters were kept in the Carp and Eel ponds and were also sourced from the river at the foot of the castle hill.
Authentic Materials were used in the reconstruction of Mountfitchet Castle.
English Oak was sourced from Suffolk for the palisade and buildings, Norfolk reed and wheat straw was used for thatching and to make the authentic wattle and daub plaster our specialists used pigs manure and horse hair.
The cloth used for clothing is as near to original material as possible – to ensure this we employed a period and textile specialist and we also had a live-in blacksmith.