This was a good spot to put a castle atop, don’t you think? The Dane John Mound is the site of one of William the Conqueror’s first motte-and-bailey fortifications built in England during the Norman invasion. Surrounded by Roman city walls, the Normans likely viewed the existing mound as simply a good place to put a fortification, and excavation under the fort has revealed that the mound was also a Roman burial site centuries before the Normans invaded.
The fort provided its garrison with sweeping views of the countryside, which can still be appreciated today by visitors who climb to the top. As construction technologies advanced, however, the fort was slowly abandoned in favour of the sturdy stone Canterbury Castle just to the north.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
Historians frequently debate just how the mound got its name. Some argue that “Dane John” is an English misinterpretation of the Norman word “donjon”, which translates directly to “fortification”, while others tell that the name sprouted from a 17th century historian who theorized the mound was built by Danes.
“THIS SEEMS LIKE A GOOD SPOT”
The Dane John Gardens lie below the mound itself, and separate themselves from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city with lines of trees and the old city walls. The gardens’ first recorded use was in the mid-16th century, when they were frequently used for parades and as fairgrounds, and in 1790 James Simmons, a local entrepreneur and politician, reworked the park into formal gardens to be enjoyed by all.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Bekesbourne Lane, Canterbury
Kent, England, CT3 4AB
+44 (0)1227 463 216
- Address: Castle Row, Canterbury, Kent, England, United Kingdom, CT1 2TN
- GPS: 51.2757715,1.0765715
- Phone: 0044 (0)1227 862 162
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: CT1 2TN
- Entrance Fees: Free Access
- Disabled Access: Good
- Visibility from Road: Excellent
- Image Credits: Paul J Martin