Information for record number MWA5381:
The Medieval Kenilworth Castle, Castle Drive, Kenilworth

Summary The stone built castle was constructed around 1122 and was adapted and extended throughout the medieval period.
What Is It?  
Type: Castle, Keep, Curtain Wall, Tower
Period: Unknown
Where Is It?  
Parish: Kenilworth
District: Warwick, Warwickshire
Grid Reference: SP 27 72
(Data represented on this map shows the current selected record as a single point, this is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent an accurate or complete representation of archaeological sites or features)
Level of Protection National - Old SMR PrefRef (Grade: )
Scheduled Monument (Grade: 04/01/1996)
Sites & Monuments Record
Picture(s) attached


Source Number  

1 The Norman keep could have been preceded by a motte and bailey castle (PRN 3200), although Chatwin thinks that this is unlikely. Chatwin suggests that the keep was constructed around 1122 by Geoffrey de Clinton. The keep is 24.4m by 19.2m, with large square projections clasping the angles, making it overall about 30m by 24.4m, and in height it was about 24.4m. It must have taken a very long time to erect. It may not have been completed in Geoffrey de Clinton's lifetime. The exceptionally solid nature of the defences suggests a date later than the middle of the 12th century. During the construction of the keep it is likely that a circular enclosure of bank and ditch surmounted by a palisade was constructed. The present courtyard may occupy approximately the site of the bailey which probably developed from the palisaded enclosure.
2 The early castle consisted of a great keep which stood at the Northeast angle of a bailey. Under John the castle was surrounded by a curtain wall with towers. Detailed accounts exist of later buildings within the bailey.
6 A programme of resistivity survey and Ground Penetrating Radar Survey centred upon SP 280 722 recorded several anomalies which had a high potential to be of archaeological origin. These included high and low resistance area anomalies, complex Ground Penetrating Radar responses and inclined events. Due to the small area of the survey the significance of these features is unknown and may require further investigation.
8 Observation of trenching adjacent to Leicester's Gatehouse uncovered further evidence of the curtain wall to the east of the Gatehouse which was wider than had been seen in an earlier trench, and of the western face of the arch of the former moat bridge. Evidence was also found of previously unrecorded masonry features; a drain, a sandstone wall and another wall foundation, all probably predating the Leicester buildings.
9 Part of the curtain wall was recorded after collapse, so that it could be rebuilt as accurately as possible. The curtain wall was part of the 13th-century alteration to the castle's defences and in the outer court areas. Domestic buildings would have once been contained in the outer court area as is evidenced by window and fireplace apertures of various dates in the wall. A survey of 1545 states that 'about the walls there be houses builded for 200 persons to lodge in'.
10 The masonry keep is probably late 12th century and could post date a motte and bailey castle. An excavation in 1960 indicated that the outer ditch was either dug or cleaned out in the 12th century and located a post hole, possibly from a Norman palisade.
12 excavations at Leicester's Stables (which is built against the curtain wall between Lunn's tower and the Water Tower) revealed 5 phases of building spanning the 13th to 20th centuries.
14 Observation of two areas to the north and south of the Gatehouse revealed the west face of the 16th century moat bridge, together with demolition material associated with the slighting of the castle in 1651. An undated floor or trackway were recorded close to Mortimer's tower and garden features associated with the 17th to 20th century Domestic occupation of the Gatehouse were recorded.
16 Investigations between 2004-2008 in the area of the Elizabethan Gardens at the castle revealed further evidence for the medieval castle. The outer bailey curtain wall had an additional two towers and evidence was produced showing that the wall was 1.10m thick and the south face was finished with dressed ashlar blocks. The central tower appears to have extended north from the curtain wall and foundations of the tower were excavated. Part of the inner bailey ditch was also excavated, however, truncation and a lack of finds meant that the backfill of this feature could not be dated.
17 Kemilworth castle was built by Geoffrey de Clinton, chamberlain to Henry I circa 1125 on the manor of stoneleigh. The oldest surviving part is the remains of the keep built by Henry II in 1175-85. In the early 13th century King John added an outer circuit of stone walls, punctuated by towers, one of which served as the main Gatehouse, and enlarged the mere.

Source No: 7
Source Type: Archaeological Report
Title: Kenilworth Castle Warwickshire: A preliminary Archaeological Assessment of the Mere and Associated Features
Author/originator: Boucher, A.
Date: 2000
Page Number:
Source No: 7
Source Type: Archaeological Report
Title: Kenilworth Castle, Archaeological Resource Assessment of the Mere and Associated Features.
Author/originator: Boucher, A
Date: 2001
Page Number:
Source No: 8
Source Type: Archaeological Report
Title: Archaeological recording adjacent to Leicester's Gatehouse, Kenilworth Castle.
Author/originator: Bryn Gethin
Date: 2005
Page Number:
Source No: 17
Source Type: Article in serial
Title: Symbols of Status in Medieval Warwickshire (1000-1500)
Author/originator: Hook D
Date: 2014
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 117
Source No: 2
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Victoria County History, vol 6, Warwickshire
Author/originator: Salzman L F (ed)
Date: 1951
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: VI
Source No: 13
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: Bibliographic reference
Author/originator: Jones R
Date: 1990
Page Number:
Source No: 15
Source Type: Bibliographic reference
Title: TBAS vol 58 Stone Implements of Warwickshire
Author/originator: Shotton FW
Date: 1934
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 58
Source No: 9
Source Type: Building Survey
Title: Archaeological survey of collapsed curtain wall south of the 'King's Gate', Kenilworth Castle
Author/originator: C Coutts
Date: 2008
Page Number:
Source No: 11
Source Type: Descriptive Text
Title: LBL
Author/originator: DoE
Page Number:
Source No: 10
Source Type: Excavation Report
Title: TBAS vol 81
Author/originator: Rahtz P
Date: 1963
Page Number: 55-73
Volume/Sheet: 81
Source No: 6
Source Type: Geophysical Survey Report
Title: A Report for English Heritage on a Geophysical Survey Carried out at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire
Author/originator: Stratascan
Date: 2003
Page Number:
Source No: 16
Source Type: Monograph
Title: The Archaeology of Kenilworth Castle's Elizabethan Garden, Excavation and Investigation 2004-2008
Author/originator: Dix B, Parry S & Finn C
Date: 2017
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: Report 15/53
Source No: 14
Source Type: Observation Report
Title: Archaeological Observation in the Outer Court of Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire
Author/originator: Coutts C & Jones C
Date: 2001
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: Report 0112
Source No: 1
Source Type: Serial
Title: TBAS vol 67
Author/originator: Chatwin P B
Date: 1947
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 67
Source No: 12
Source Type: Serial
Title: TBAS vol 99
Author/originator: Ellis P
Date: 1995
Page Number: 100-102
Volume/Sheet: 99
Source No: 4
Source Type: Scheduling record
Title: SAM list
Author/originator: DoE
Date: 1985
Page Number:
Source No: 3
Source Type: Scheduling record
Title: SAM list
Author/originator: DoE
Page Number:
Source No: 5
Source Type: Scheduling record
Title: SAM County List
Author/originator: English Heritage
Date: 1996
Page Number:
Volume/Sheet: 21576
The Great Keep at Kenilworth Castle
Copyright: Warwickshire County Council
Click here for larger image  
Kenilworth Castle
Copyright: Warwickshire County Council
Date: 2000
Click here for larger image  
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Word or Phrase
none Scheduled Monument Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAMs) are those archaeological sites which are legally recognised as being of national importance. They can range in date from prehistoric times to the Cold War period. They can take many different forms, including disused buildings or sites surviving as earthworks or cropmarks.

SAMs are protected by law from unlicensed disturbance and metal detecting. Written consent from the Secretary of State must be obtained before any sort of work can begin, including archaeological work such as geophysical survey or archaeological excavation. There are nearly 200 SAMs in Warwickshire.
source LBL Listed Building List. Buildings and structures, such as bridges, that are of architectural or historical importance are placed on a list. Buildings placed on the list are protected through various planning and conservation acts which ensure that their special features of interest are considered before any alterations are made to them. The Listed Buildings List is compiled and maintained by English Heritage. It includes details of where the building is, when it was built, a description of its appearance, and any other special features. back
source SAM List Scheduled Ancient Monument List. A list or schedule of archaelogical and historic monuments that are considered to be of national importance. The list contains a detailed description of each Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) and a map showing their location and extent. By being placed on the schedule, SAMs are protected by law from any unauthorised distrubance. The list has been compiled and is maintained by English Heritage. It is updated periodically. back
source TBAS Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society is a journal produced by the society annually. It contains articles about archaeological field work that has taken place in Birmingham and Warwickshire in previous years. Copies of the journal are kept by the Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record. back
technique Geophysical Survey The measuring and recording of electrical resistivity or magnetism in order to determine the existence and outline of buried features such as walls and ditches. Geophysical techniques include resistivity survey, magnetometer survey and ground penetrating radar. View Image back
technique Resistivity Survey A resistivity survey measures the electrical resistance of the soil and any buried features within it. Where there are buried pits and ditches, there is less resistance to the flow of electricity. Where there are archaeological remains made from stone, for example a wall, the resistance is greater. These differences in resistance are measured and recorded by archaeologists using a resistivity meter. The measurements can then be used to plot features that exist below the ground. See also geophysical survey. back
technique Ground Penetrating Radar Ground-penetrating radar is a geophysical technique that sends electromagnetic pulses into the ground and records the pattern of their reflection. A radar antenna is towed along the ground surface and radar waves are sent into the ground. As they reflect off any archaeological buried features some of the waves are reflected back to the surface and are measured by another receiving antenna. The radar travel times are measured and stored on a computer. The readings can then be plotted to create a three dimensional picture of the features below the ground. See also geophysical survey. back
technique excavation Archaeologists excavate sites so that they can find information and recover archaeological materials before they are destroyed by erosion, construction or changes in land-use.

Depending on how complicated and widespread the archaeological deposits are, excavation can be done by hand or with heavy machinery. Archaeologists may excavate a site in a number of ways; either by open area excavation, by digging a test pit or a trial trench.
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period Medieval 1066 AD to 1539 AD (the 11th century AD to the 16th century AD)

The medieval period comes after the Saxon period and before the post medieval period.

The Medieval period begins in 1066 AD.
This was the year that the Normans, led by William the Conqueror (1066 – 1087), invaded England and defeated Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings in East Sussex.
The Medieval period includes the first half of the Tudor period (1485 – 1603 AD), when the Tudor family reigned in England and eventually in Scotland too.

The end of the Medieval period is marked by Henry VIII’s (1509 – 1547) order for the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the years running up to 1539 AD. The whole of this period is sometimes called the Middle Ages.
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monument HOUSE * A building for human habitation, especially a dwelling place. Use more specific type where known. back
monument PALISADE * An enclosure of stakes driven into the ground, sometimes for defensive purposes. back
monument SITE * Unclassifiable site with minimal information. Specify site type wherever possible. back
monument CIRCULAR ENCLOSURE * A circular shaped area of land enclosed by a boundary ditch, bank, wall, palisade or similar barrier. back
monument LODGE * A small building, often inhabited by a gatekeeper, gamekeeper or similar. Use specific type where known. back
monument BUILDING * A structure with a roof to provide shelter from the weather for occupants or contents. Use specific type where known. back
monument STONE * Use only where stone is natural or where there is no indication of function. back
monument ARCH * A structure over an opening usually formed of wedge-shaped blocks of brick or stone held together by mutual pressure and supported at the sides; they can also be formed from moulded concrete/ cast metal. A component; use for free-standing structure only. back
monument KEEP * The major tower of a fortification, often acting as its last defence. back
monument FLOOR * A layer of stone, brick or boards, etc, on which people tread. Use broader site type where known. back
monument FEATURE * Areas of indeterminate function. back
monument GARDEN FEATURE * Unspecified landscape feature. Use more specific type where known. back
monument TOWER * A tall building, either round, square or polygonal in plan, used for a variety of purposes, including defence, as a landmark, for the hanging of bells, industrial functions, etc. Use more specific type where known. back
monument DRAIN * An artificial channel for draining water or carrying it off. back
monument MOAT * A wide ditch surrounding a building, usually filled with water. Use for moated sites, not defensive moats. Use with relevant site type where known, eg. MANOR HOUSE, GARDEN, etc. back
monument CASTLE * A fortress and dwelling, usually medieval in origin, and often consisting of a keep, curtain wall and towers etc. back
monument WATER TOWER * A tower serving as a reservoir to deliver water at a required point. back
monument COURTYARD * An uncovered area, surrounded or partially surrounded by buildings. back
monument GATEHOUSE * A gateway with one or more chambers over the entrance arch; the flanking towers housing stairs and additional rooms. Use with wider site type where known. back
monument DEFENCE * This is the top term for the class. See DEFENCE Class List for narrow terms. back
monument BRIDGE * A structure of wood, stone, iron, brick or concrete, etc, with one or more intervals under it to span a river or other space. Use specific type where known. back
monument MOTTE AND BAILEY * An early form of castle consisting of a flat-top steep-sided earthen mound, supporting a wooden tower, and a bailey. back
monument MANOR * An area of land consisting of the lord's demesne and of lands from whose holders he may exact certain fees, etc. back
monument TRENCH * An excavation used as a means of concealment, protection or both. back
monument DITCH * A long and narrow hollow or trench dug in the ground, often used to carry water though it may be dry for much of the year. back
monument SQUARE * An open space or area, usually square in plan, in a town or city, enclosed by residential and/or commercial buildings, frequently containing a garden or laid out with trees. back
monument GARDEN * An enclosed piece of ground devoted to the cultivation of flowers, fruit or vegetables and/or recreational purposes. Use more specific type where known. back
monument STABLE * A building in which horses are accommodated. back
monument TRACKWAY * A pathway, not necessarily designed as such, beaten down by the feet of travellers. back
monument BAILEY * The courtyard of a castle, ie. the area enclosed by the rampart or curtain. Use with wider site type where known. back
monument GATE * A movable stucture which enables or prevents entrance to be gained. Usually situated in a wall or similar barrier and supported by gate posts. back
monument CURTAIN WALL * A wall between two towers or pavilions, usually surrounding a building, and often forming a major part of the defences. back
monument WALL * An enclosing structure composed of bricks, stones or similar materials, laid in courses. Use specific type where known. back
monument PALISADED ENCLOSURE * An enclosed settlement surrounded by a single or double row of close-set timbers embedded in a foundation trench, without ditches or banks. back
monument POST HOLE * A hole dug to provide a firm base for an upright post, often with stone packing. Use broader monument type where known. back
monument DOMESTIC * This is the top term for the class. See DOMESTIC Class List for narrow terms. back

* Copyright of English Heritage (1999)

English Heritage National Monuments Record