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  • Writer's picturePaul Jameson

A Walk with Weird in the Wade and a Lost Castle

It's only been a week and I'm already writing another blog post. That's some improvement for me, and I have to say it's a lot to do with Natalie from WEIRD IN THE WADE - so thank you Natalie. Now if you've not heard, Weird in the Wade is a podcast of strange goings on in and around Biggleswade. Written and hosted by Nat Doig, it covers local tales, history, and the folklore of hauntings, UFOs, poisoners, strange tunnels under t' ground, and a range of other unusual goings on in this part of Bedfordshire, of which there are many. Natalie injects life into the stories, before then considering possible explanations through extensive research into media, newspaper articles, chats with locals, and facts, that either support or disprove various theories. Honestly, it's fascinating, and rarely is anything as it first appears. Do give it a listen, before deciding what you think of possible explanations and the reality around these past events.

I highly recommend it.

Now Natalie and I met at Surfers Cafe in the centre of town - good coffee if you ever visit, and I've not been paid, asked, or had my arm twisted to say that. Well we chatted about Natalie's current projects, my writing, and a range of topics before Natalie suggested we get away from the noise and take a stroll down by the River Ivel, where she could show me the location that was Biggleswade Castle. I was so pleased. You see I've wanted to know where Biggleswade Castle was for a while now, and I've not been able to find it on aerial photographs - although being in the right area of search. Most frustrating, so it was great of Natalie to show me.

Cannot find a castle!?

How can that be?

Artist Unknown - Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council website
Artist Impression of a Ringwork Castle with Bailey

Quite easy, it seems. You see, the location of Biggleswade Castle was only rediscovered in 1954 by Professor Kenneth St Joseph of Cambridge University, whilst flying low over the area. Even history had forgotten Biggleswade had once had a castle. A rare one at that.

Biggleswade Castle - it has since been determined - is one of only 60 known Ringwork Castles, in the UK, that included a central bailey. Believed to have been built during the Anarchy of Stephen in the 12th century, it's a stronghold on a low gravel island that overlooked the River Ivel, a major medieval transport route, and the surrounding marshland. Who might have built it is up for debate, with possible, and favoured options being either Bishop Alexander of Lincoln or Ralph de L'sel, Lord of the Biggleswade Manor during the Civil War. Either way, it was not built to defend the town, but rather to control flow of movement and trade up and down the Ivel Valley, and across a bridging point over the river, near Ivel Mill. Even knowing exactly where the castle is - thanks to Natalie - it can only be seen as cropmarks on the ground (see photo below) - and even then rarely.

Certainly on the day we visited, it was invisible beneath a crop of swaying gold.

Biggleswade Castle - A1 running north/south on its western flank (English Heritage)
Biggleswade Castle - Crop Marks

So there you have it.

Lost castles. Now I'm off to find Camelot.


If there's a topic you'd like me to consider in a blog, a book you think I really need to read and review, or a TV Series you think I'd enjoy (and you'd like me to include it in my blog) drop me a line and let me know.

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