Staplehurst Castle Bank is believed to be a surviving example of a moot, a location used for dispensing justice and other administrative functions. Such sites started to be used from the seventh century AD and took a variety of forms but were generally centred around a prominent landmark as well as being located at a readily accessible point. Staplehurst Castle Bank was located on the parish boundaries of Cranbrook, Frittenden and Staplehurst which collectively formed the Saxon Hundred of Cranbrook over which the courts held at the site would have had jurisdiction.
Staplehurst Castle Bank was an artificially created circular earthwork around 50 metres in diameter. A water-filled ditch, over 5 metres wide, surrounded the site and its spoil was used to create the rampart. Archaeological investigation during the nineteenth century found evidence of numerous stumps which have been interpreted as the remains of a timber palisade. The centre of the moot was depressed effectively creating an amphitheatre for the populace to watch the ongoing proceedings.
Precisely when Staplehurst Castle Bank went out of use is uncertain but rurally located moots went into a slow decline following the Norman Conquest. The invaders changed England’s legal system from a communal arrangement to a feudal one and this led to castles becoming the main location for the delivery of justice. Some moots were re-modelled by the Normans into castles but there is no evidence to suggest that happened at Staplehurst particularly as there isn't any trace of any bailey.
Guy, J (1980). Kent Castles. Meresborough Books.
Historic England (1991). Moot Mound 400m west of Knox Bridge, List Entry 1013147. Historic England, London.
King, C.D.J (1983). Castellarium anglicanum: an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Kraus International Publications.
Salter, M (2016). The Castles of Kent, Surrey and Sussex. Folly Publications.
Staplehurst Castle Bank is on a private land with no public access although the site can be clearly seen from an adjacent right of way. The well preserved earthworks of the moot are heavily overgrown.
Staplehurst Moot. The earthworks of the fortification are well preserved but are hidden from view as the site is heavily overgrown.
STAPLEHURST CASTLE BANK
Staplehurst Castle Bank is a circular earthwork consisting of a ditch and rampart. Its origin is unclear but it is believed to be an example of a Saxon moot, a gathering point for local communities where justice was dispensed and other administrative tasks completed. It probably went out of use following the Norman Conquest.
Staplehurst Castle can be found off Cranbrook Road near Knox Bridge. There is a small lay-by near Knox Bridge Cafe and the right of way is found just beyond. There is no access to the site of the castle/moot but it can viewed from a distance.
Car Parking Option
Cranbrook Road, TN17 2BT