Cainhoe Castle was an 11th century Norman castle, located to the south of the village of Clophill, in the county of Bedfordshire, England.Cainhoe Castle was a motte and triple bailey castle, built by Nigel d'Aubigny, a Norman Knight, sometime after the Norman Invasion (1066). This was not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
Cainhoe Castle remains as a prominent earthwork just off the road from Clophill to Shefford. It was the seat of the Barony of Cainhoe which, under Nigel d'Aubiny owned lands in various other local hamlets and villages including: Husborne Crawley, Tingrith, Harlington, Marston Moretaine, Millbrook, Ampthill, Southill, Maulden, Silsoe, Pulloxhill, Streatley, Milton Ernest, Carlton, Turvey, Wyboston, Biggleswade, Harrowden, Clifton, Henlow and Arlesey as well as Clophill and Cainhoe, with some other properties in Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire.
Clophill itself has two hamlets, Beadlow and Cainhoe. A third, Moddry or Moddri is given in the records of Beaulieu Priory before 1146. Cainhoe is first recorded in the Domesday Book at Chainehou and Cainou, the name meaning "Cæga's spur of land".
You are welcome to explore this area and visit the moated medieval motte and bailey remains of Cainhoe Castle. The site is managed to control scrub encroachment, particularly on the steeper slopes, and to prevent erosion damage to the earthwork by maintaining a dense grass sward. Please be aware the site may be grazed, and the cows and sheep may not be in obvious view.
The entrance from the A507 is not obvious covered by thick foliage in the summer months. It is a stile opposite Clophill Road which leads to Upper Gravenhurst. The Clophill north side entrance from the public footpath is more obviously visible near the old Quarry lake whose path eventually leads into Clophill High Street
The d'Aubigny family, known for being deeply involved in the crusades, used the castle as the seat of the Barony of Cainhoe. The castle was to stay in the d'Aubigny family until the death of Simon d'Aubigny, who died without a male heir, in 1272. It then passed to the de Lacys and the Nortons, and then on to the Greys, Earls of Kent.
The castle was occupied until the time of the Black Death (1348), when all the inhabitants died of the disease. The castle, and the small village that had built up around it, were discovered abandoned sometime later.
By 1374 the castle was in ruins. The site was excavated in 1973, 1985 and 1986. Only earthworks remain. The site is a Scheduled Monument.
It is possible that the castle was built on the site of Anglo-Saxon settlement. A series of fishponds lies north of the castle and there are earthworks to the west and it seems likely that these earthworks represent the hall described in 1272 when Simon de d'Aubigny's possessions were divided between his three sisters: "the hall of Kaynho with porch, chamber, cellar towards the east, with bakehouse, dovecote and garden westwards to the ditch of the marsh, the ditch which encloses the court…a ditch extends from the well to the bridge of Baybrugg, thence a ditch near the causeway…to the bottom of the old ditch…fishpond called Walebeck….houses of stone and lime…"
Cainhoe castle, with its fringe of hawthorne trees, offers fine views across the fields to Clophill village and beyond. Though few walk here now, this cluster of mounds was once an important centre of power and influence. It was also a focus of murder and strangeness. The castle was constructed under the command of Nigel d’Albini, a Norman knight, whose full title was Lord of the Honour of Cainhoe. D’Albini married a descendent of Geoffrey de Montbray who had arrived in Britain with Duke William (“the Conqueror”) of Normandy and who, as reward, was granted almost three hundred English manors. From this matrix derived d’Albini’s immense power, centred on Cainhoe castle........