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Oliver's Battery: a motte and bailey castle at Old Basing

A Scheduled Monument in Old Basing and Lychpit, Hampshire

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Latitude: 51.2769 / 51°16'36"N

Longitude: -1.0438 / 1°2'37"W

OS Eastings: 466793.687308

OS Northings: 153517.135142

OS Grid: SU667535

Mapcode National: GBR B6C.T35

Mapcode Global: VHD08.V5KG

Entry Name: Oliver's Battery: a motte and bailey castle at Old Basing

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Last Amended: 18 May 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010866

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24337

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: Old Basing and Lychpit

Built-Up Area: Basingstoke

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Old Basing St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Winchester


The monument includes a motte and bailey castle overlooking the River Loddon
at Old Basing. The castle is on quite steeply sloping ground, c.90m south east
of the river, and has maximum dimensions of 156m (north to south) by 140m. The
motte is situated at the north west corner of the site.
A ditch up to 10m wide and 2.5m deep runs from the north east corner along the
eastern and southern sides of the sub-rectangular bailey. The southern ditch
is flanked by an internal bank up to 5m wide and generally not more than 1m
high, although at the south western corner of the site it rises to a height of
2m. No clearly defined eastern bank is recognisable. The northern and western
edges of the bailey are marked by a noticeable fall in ground level but no
ditch or bank is visible. The bailey may have been divided into two areas of
approximately similar size by an east to west bank, a remnant of which
survives as a low mound at the eastern side of the site. The motte, c.40m in
diameter and up to 1.6m high, is on the lower part of the site, near the north
western corner. North of the motte, the bailey extends beyond the projected
line of the ditch from the north eastern corner.
The castle's date of construction is unknown, although the Domesday Book shows
a short-lived fall in the value of the land and manor of Basing between 1066
and 1086; a similar fall elsewhere has been attributed to the construction of
a castle and this may also be the case here. It has also been suggested that
the castle may have been superseded by the larger stronghold at Basing House,
or may have been a siege castle associated with it.
All fencing, litter bins, signs and associated posts, concrete and wooden
seats and the wooden bridge crossing the southern ditch are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain
by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the
motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of
examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey,
adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as
garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in
many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal
administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and
bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their
immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive
monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape.
Over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally,
with examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of
recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for
the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although
many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to
be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they
were superseded by other types of castle.

The motte and bailey castle at Old Basing is well preserved, remains largely
undisturbed and is a good example of its class. The site will contain
archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the date and method of
construction of the castle, its period of use and subsequent abandonment.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hughes, M F, 'Landscape Hist' in Hampshire Castles and the Landscape 1066-1216, (1989), 33
Hughes, M F, 'Landscape Hist' in Hampshire Castles and the Landscape 1066-1216, (1989), 56
Ordnance Survey, SU 65SE 4, (1956)

Source: Historic England

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