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Odiham Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Odiham, Hampshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.2614 / 51°15'41"N

Longitude: -0.9611 / 0°57'40"W

OS Eastings: 472582.975924

OS Northings: 151873.330801

OS Grid: SU725518

Mapcode National: GBR C7Z.XGM

Mapcode Global: VHDXS.9K7C

Entry Name: Odiham Castle

Scheduled Date: 26 June 1924

Last Amended: 23 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008705

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24326

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: Odiham

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Odiham All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Winchester

Details

The monument, which falls into two areas, includes the 13th century royal
castle at Odiham. The castle, built by King John, is situated on low-lying
ground within a bend of the River Whitewater, about 1.5km north west of the
town of Odiham. The castle includes a ruined keep (Listed Grade I) standing in
one of two contiguous moated enclosures with a third enclosure to the south
east. The south western corners of the moat, southern moated enclosure and
outer earthworks were damaged during the construction of the Basingstoke Canal
in the 18th century. South of the canal, only the south western corner of the
moat is visible, surviving as a small pond; the remainder survives as a buried
feature. The moat encompasses and divides a sub-rectangular area measuring
c.120m by 104m into two enclosures, the northern one being the larger. The
moat is a single broad ditch up to 15m wide but, from the canal around the
north west corner of the castle and along part of its northern side, two outer
banks and an intermediate ditch supplement it, giving an overall width to the
defences of c.30m. A ruined, buttressed, octagonal keep, three storeys high
and c.17m in external diameter, stands slightly west of the centre of the
northern moated enclosure. For the most part only the mortared flint core of
the keep remains; ashlar facing is preserved at the internal base of the wall,
however, and a dressed stone window arch and chimney with part of a tile-
arched fireplace survive at higher levels. Recesses for timbers are visible on
both interior and exterior faces of the keep wall. The undulating ground level
outside the keep is 2m-3m higher than that of the interior, but no other
structural remains are visible.
The southern enclosure is a level platform containing no upstanding structural
remains. There is a third similarly orientated and slightly undulating
enclosure, measuring approximately 100m by 50m, in the adjoining field to the
south east. The northern side of this enclosure is marked by a ditch extending
north eastwards from the southern moat and the other sides by low banks, not
more than 0.3m high and c.3m wide. Except for the south west corner of the
moat, there are no earthworks associated with the castle in the wet and
low-lying field south of the canal, which shows signs of having been used as
water meadows, nor in the area north east of the castle, also formerly part of
a water meadow and more recently remodelled to accommodate a lake.
The castle was built some distance from the town of Odiham, the site of a
royal residence since the early 12th century, by King John. Documentary
sources indicate that the first castle was built between 1207 and 1212.
Shortly after, in 1216, the castle was besieged by the French and may have
been so badly damaged as to need rebuilding, possibly with the octagonal keep,
since partial excavation in the 1880's has indicated that this was not the
first structure on the site. The castle remained in royal hands, undergoing
various documented piecemeal improvements and repairs, until at least 1483,
after which there are no such further references; it appears to have fallen
into decay by the 16th century.
Excluded from the scheduling are the maintenance shed, all stiles, fences,
modern stairs and associated posts, although the ground beneath all of these
features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A tower keep castle is a strongly fortified residence in which the keep is the
principal defensive feature. The keep may be free-standing or surrounded by a
defensive enclosure; they are normally square in shape, although other shapes
are known. Internally they have several floors providing accommodation of
various types. If the keep has an attached enclosure this will normally be
defined by a defensive wall, frequently with an external ditch. Access into
the enclosure was provided by a bridge across the ditch, allowing entry via a
gatehouse. Additional buildings, including stabling for animals and workshops,
may be found within the enclosure. Tower keep castles were built throughout
the medieval period, from immediately after the Norman Conquest to the mid-
15th century, with a peak in the middle of the 12th century. A few were
constructed on the sites of earlier earthwork castle types but most were new
creations. They provided strongly fortified residences for the king or leading
families and occur in both urban or rural situations. Tower keep castles are
widely dispersed throughout England with a major concentration on the Welsh
border. They are rare nationally with only 104 recorded examples. Considerable
diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With
other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to
the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative
centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles
generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a
valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and
defence, and to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples retaining
significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally
important.

The 13th century royal castle at Odiham survives well, most of the site having
remained largely undisturbed since the castle fell out of use, probably in the
16th century. Partial excavation has indicated that the site contains
archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the construction, use
and abandonment of the castle; it also gives an insight into the economy and
way of life of its occupants.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Allen, D, Odiham Castle Excavations 1984, (1985), 3-4
Colvin, H M, The History of the King's Works, (1963), 766-768
Williams-Freeman, JP, Introduction to field archaeology as illustrated by Hampshire, (1915), 68-69

Source: Historic England

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