The earthworks of a suspected motte-and-bailey castle. The remains are visible from a public access bridleway. The Saintbury Market Cross and St Nicholas Church, both found to the north of the castle, are also well worth a visit.
NO OFFICIAL SITE
Car Parking Option
Saintbury Market Cross
St Nicholas' Church
Notes: The earthworks are not sign posted but a small notice on the access gate marks the start of the bridleway. On-road parking is possible with care.
ACCESSING SAINTBURY CASTLE
Proceed through the gate and follow the bridleway until you see the earthworks.
Saintbury Castle is the name given to earthworks within Weston Park that seemingly represent the remains of an unconventional motte-and-bailey fortification. The site has not been excavated and, until this happens, few conclusions can be reliably made as to when the structure was first raised.
HISTORY OF SAINTBURY CASTLE
The name Saintbury, which was called Suineberie in the Domesday Book (1086), derives from the Old English phrase "Sæwine’s fortified place". This could be a reference to the ancient fort on nearby Willersey Hill or perhaps the small earthworks just south of St Nicolas Church in Saintbury itself. At the time of the survey it was owned by Hascoit (or Hasculfus) Musard, a first generation descendant of a Norman Knight. The church itself dates from the Norman period, although substantially rebuilt over the subsequent centuries, and is indicative of a significant settlement in the immediate area.
Around one mile to the south-east of the village, in what is known as Weston Park, are the earthwork remains of Saintbury Castle. Constructed on a ridge which provides excellent views to the north, the site is mooted to have been a motte and bailey fortification. However the configuration, with two embanked mounds, has no known equivalent and it is possible this was not a castle at all although the deliberate scarping and ditches that surround the site are indicative of a defensive structure. The only reference is from the eighteenth century historian, S. Rudder who noted that "the hundred court was formerly kept on the top of the hill above the village" which implies the presence of a castle. Alternatively, it is possible the site was simply a feature within Weston Park - perhaps a hunting lodge or viewing platform. Until the site is subjected to archaeological investigation, its true purpose and history will remain unclear.