Monument record 0001800000 - DESBOROUGH CASTLE


Medieval ringwork known as Desborough Castle surviving as earthworks and known from historic records

Protected Status/Designation

  • Ancient Monument 1020863: DESBOROUGH CASTLE
  • Planning Notification Area: Remains of Iron Age hillfort and Medieval ringwork castle at Desborough Castle


Type and Period (2)

  • RINGWORK (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SIEGE CASTLE? (12th Century - 1100 AD to 1199 AD)


Dimensions - Length 17m, Width 86m.
Plan Form - Oval.
Fine & well preserved example. Defences consist of single rampart & ditch with break in middle of SE side (B5).
Castle at West Wycombe mentioned 1210-11 (Winchester pipe roll) is probably Desborough (B9). Building remains (B1,B5).
Suggested as a seige castle of Anarchy date; it seems occupation ceases early C13 (B17).
Reference to 'The Castle' in 1321 manorial records (B20).
Negative watching brief (B22).
Added to Historic England's Heritage at Risk register in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Condition described as 'Generally unsatisfactory with major localised problems'. The principal vulnerability was vandalism, with the trend declining (B24-25,B27).

Sources (27)

  • <1>SBC7319 Bibliographic reference: LANGLEY T 1797 HISTORY & ANTIQUITIES OF THE HUNDRE D OF DESBOROUGH PP2-8.
  • <2>SBC4305 Article in serial: R S Downs. 1883. 'DESBOROUGH CASTLE', IN RECS OF BUCKS 5. Vol 5. pp248-260.
  • <3>SBC20350 Bibliographic reference: A Hadrian Allcroft. 1908. Earthwork of England. pp168, 442, 635.
  • <4>SBC20461 Bibliographic reference: William Page (ed). 1908. A History of Buckinghamshire (Victoria County History) Volume II. Volume 2. p24.
  • <5>SBC12711 Bibliographic reference: RCHM BUCKS 1 P318. p318.
  • <6>SBC6246 Bibliographic reference: J F Head. 1955. EARLY MAN IN SOUTH BUCKS. pp76, 168-9, Fig 6 (B).
  • <7>SBC11368 Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey Field Investigator. OS RECORD CARDS (FILED).
  • <8>SBC13890 Article in serial: C Saunders. 1971. 'THE PRE BELGIC IRON AGE IN THE CENTRAL & WESTERN CHILTERNS', IN ARCH J 128. Vol 128. p26.
  • <9>SBC13710 Bibliographic reference: D F Renn. 1973. NORMAN CASTLES IN BRITAIN (3RD EDITION). p350.
  • <10>SBC15040 Bibliographic reference: TAYLOR MR ROBERT T,1973.
  • <11>SBC5110 Verbal communication: Mike Farley (BCM). 1973. PERS COMM, JAN 1973, FOLLOWING FIELD VISIT.
  • <12>SBC13969 Scheduling record: English Heritage. 2002. SCHEDULING LISTS OF INSPECTORATE OF ANCIENT MONUMENTS.
  • <13>SBC16440 Verbal communication: WATTS MR R TO M E FARLEY 22 MAY 1979.
  • <14>SBC1280 Unpublished document: Buckinghamshire County Museum. BCM ACCESSIONS REGISTERS.
  • <15>SBC5855 Unpublished document: 1974. GREEN MR HERBERT TO C N GOWING OCT 1974 (SEE CORRESPONDENCE ETC..
  • <16>SBC6192 Bibliographic reference: HBMC AUG 1986.
  • <17>SBC3093 Article in serial: Mark Collard. 1988. 'EXCAVATIONS AT DESBOROUGH CASTLE, HIGH WYCOMBE, 1987', IN RECS OF BUCKS 30 PP15-41 (& SEE SOUTH MIDLANDS ARCHAEOLOGY 18 PP28-29). Vol 30.
  • <18>SBC3098 Verbal communication: COLLARD M JAN 1989 (& SEE SITE ARCHIVE ETC FILED).
  • <19>SBC11612 Verbal communication: PATERSON H (DOE FIELD MONUMENTS WARDEN) SEPT 1991 (PHOTO FILED).
  • <20>SBC20161 Bibliographic reference: A Short History with Description of the Parish of West Wycombe. p18.
  • <21>SBC23407 Article in serial: Michael Farley. 2009. 'How large was the Iron Age 'hillfort' at Desborough Castle, West Wycombe?', in Recs of Bucks 49 pp235-238. Vol 49.
  • <22>SBC24515 Unpublished document: Albion Archaeology. 2012. Desborough Castle Play Area, High Wycombe: Archaeological Watching Brief.
  • <23>SBC25142 Article in serial: Michael Farley. 2016. 'The Probable Hillfort at Desborough, and a Hundredal Meeting Place Revisited', in Recs of Bucks 56 pp143-144. Vol 56.
  • <24>SBC25497 Digital archive: Historic England. 2020. Heritage at Risk Register 2020.
  • <25>SBC25511 Digital archive: Historic England. 2021. Heritage at Risk Register 2021.
  • <26>SBC20462 Bibliographic reference: William Page (ed). 1925. A History of Buckinghamshire (Victoria County History) Volume III. Volume 3. pp33, 135.
  • <27>SBC25896 Digital archive: Historic England. 2022. Heritage at Risk Register 2022.


Grid reference Centred SU 8471 9331 (145m by 122m)
Civil Parish HIGH WYCOMBE, Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (6)

Related Events/Activities (4)

  • Event - Survey: Site visit (EBC13950)
  • Event - Intervention: Trial trenching (Ref: WDC 87) (EBC1081)
  • Event - Intervention: Watching brief (Ref: DC1873) (EBC17671)
  • Event - Intervention: Watching brief (Ref: WDC 87) (EBC17408)

Record last edited

Nov 29 2022 2:36PM

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