Castle Camps



Site type: DMV

The grid reference used by the website has been refined from that published in the 1968 Gazetteer (TL 630 425) to place the marker over the earthworks at the site. The village of Castle Camps originally developed as a direct consequence of the construction of the castle, Castle Camps, sometime before 1100. This motte and bailey castle, recognized as the largest in the county, was built by Aubrey De Vere shortly after the Norman Conquest. [1] The remains of the village of Castle Camps are situated on the exterior of the outer bailey and to the north-east of the castle. [1] All that remains of the village now are small areas of earthworks, although they were once more extensive and pottery scatters would suggest settlement over a wider area. [1] The main feature of the site is a large hollow way which bisects the village area running north-south. At each end of the hollow way are the remains of what appear to be houses. In addition to these residence sites, there are earthworks representing perimeter and inner plot demarcations, leveled building platforms and tracks and spoil mounds. [2]. Between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries a park was recorded as attached to the castle, and its increase in size over the period, may be one reason for declining settlement at the site. [3]

There was a sizable population recorded at Domesday (although this included Shudy Camps), and the fourteenth-century taxations also show a similar picture. The Victoria County History suggests that there was never a great nucleated settlement, but that the area consisted of scattered hamlets and farmsteads. [3] Castle Camps has also appeared in documents titled as Great Camps (in 1236, 1271 and 1314) and as Earl’s Camps (in 1086). [4] By the sixteenth century there had been a decline in the number of people taxed, but this was against a background of changes to the settlement structure in the area and the development of a new ‘Castle Camps’ settlement. The current village of Castle Camps is located to the north east of the castle site and is the amalgamation of two of these hamlets, Camps Green and Camps End and these names only appear in the 1820s. [3, 4] The parish church is still situated at the isolated location of the castle and village site. The eventual decay of the settlement at the castle has been attributed to the decline of the castle itself whose importance dwindled towards the end of the medieval period. It would seem that there is no record of the actual size of the village or the final date of its desertion. [2]

Appears in the Gazetteer of Deserted Medieval Villages known in 1968.

[1] NMR Pastscape Record No. 377090.
[2] Taylor, C.C. 1973. ‘Cambridgeshire Earthwork Surveys’, Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society 64: 35-43.
[3] Wright, A.P.M. 1978. ‘Castle Camps’, in A.P.M. Wright (ed.) A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely. Volume 6: 36-48. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[4] Reaney, P.H. 1943. The Place-Names of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely. Cambridge: English Place-Name Society: 102-103.
Pre-1974 county:
Historic parish:
Castle Camps
Present county or unitary area:
Modern parish:
Castle Camps
Grid reference:
TL 626426

Documentary resources
Domesday reference:
CAMB 21,1. 29,7 (Castle and Shudy Camps)
Domesday minimum number of individuals:
Taxation 1291 (main):
Taxation 1291 (portions):
Not recorded
Lay subsidy 1334 total paid:
Poll Tax 1377 number who paid:
Poll Tax 1377 total paid:
Poll Tax 1379 number who paid:
No surviving record
Poll Tax 1379 total paid:
No surviving record
Poll Tax 1381 number who paid:
No surviving record
Poll Tax 1381 total paid:
No surviving record
Lay subsidy 1524 number who paid:
Lay Subsidy 1524 total paid:
Lay Subsidy 1525 number who paid:
Not recorded
Lay Subsidy 1525 total paid:
Not recorded
Lay Subsidy 1543/4 number who paid:
Diocesan returns 1563:
Census 1801 total population:
546 (Parish)
Census 1841 total population:
834 (Parish)
Census 1841 inhabited houses:
E179 date and type last doc:
1678 March 20 act for raising money by a poll
Additional information
Alternative names:
Presumed date of depopulation:
NMR number:
HER number:
CAMB 07366
Investigation history:
1970-73 Survey.
1978 Field Visit.
2000 Watching Brief.
Cartographic or photographic records:
RAF 106G/UK/1635 3383-4 Taken 09 July 1946.
CUCAP EP164 Taken 27 July 1949.
CUCAP OD36-38 Taken 20 June 1954.
CUCAP AEW27 Taken 1 June 1962.
CUCAP AKR13-15 Taken 1 April 1965.
CUCAP AMM19-27 Taken 24 November 1965.
CUCAP BEN88-93 Taken 4 November 1970.
CUCAP BEQ19-25 Taken 19 January 1971.
CUCAP BPK8-12 Taken 6 February 1974.
CUCAP CHY45-47 Taken 5 January 1979.
Taylor, C.C. 1973. ‘Cambridgeshire Earthwork Surveys’ Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society 64: 35-43. p. 39 plan, p. 42 plan.
Site status:
Scheduled 1006894
x coordinate:
y coordinate:
Beresford, M.W. and J.G. Hurst (eds) 1971. Deserted Medieval Villages. London: Lutterworth.

Oosthuizen, S. 2009. ‘The Deserted Medieval Settlements of Cambridgeshire: A Gazetteer’, Medieval Settlement Research 24: 14-19.

Taylor, C.C. 1973. ‘Cambridgeshire Earthwork Surveys’, Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society 64: 35-43.
See also:
NMR Pastscape
Open Domesday
CUCAP Aerial Photographs