The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Harescombe Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Horescombe; Castellum de Havyscombe prope Paynynswicke

In the civil parish of Harescombe.
In the historic county of Gloucestershire.
Modern Authority of Gloucestershire.
1974 county of Gloucestershire.
Medieval County of Gloucestershire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO83651040
Latitude 51.79201° Longitude -2.23845°

Harescombe Castle has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a probable Masonry Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


There appears to be considerable confusion between Harescombe and Haresfield, possibly initiated by William Worcestre in 1480 and perpetuated and enlarged upon in the 19th. century. Worcestre's entry in his Itinerary is simply "Harescombe Castle, near Painswick, in the county of Gloucester". Harescombe was well off his route from Cirencester to Malmesbury and there is no reason to suppose he visited it.
Rudge notes that after the Fitz Allens Harescombe belonged to the Rous family who built the church in 1273, and to the Mills from 1360 until the mid 17th. cent. He states that "an old mansion, said to be the castle of the de Bohuns, was situated a little to the westward of the church. The materials were carried to Elmore for the purpose of building the court-house (SO 71 NE 5) in the reign of Elizabeth. The appearance of the moat etc, is still to be observed".
He considers the story may be apocryphal and if remains were removed they were probably from the Mills' house. He then says that there are neither remains nor a tradition of a castle at the de Bohuns manor of Haresfield; on both these counts he is incorrect, (see SO 81 SW 7).
Melland Hall, Rector of Harescombe, wrote a lengthy, well documented but seemingly muddled article. He shows that formerly Harescombe was a tithing of Haresfield and that Harescombe church was daughter to that at Haresfield. The castle at Harescombe was probably built in Stephen's time and was the residence of the FitzAllens who preceded the Rouse family. The castle was demolished possibly in the reign of Edward II. Hall also quotes Worcestre and the story of stone being taken to Elmore Court.
Both Harescombe and Haresfield were originally de Bohun property, the Harescombe tithing being leased.
If the Fitz Allens built a castle in Stephen's time it would probably have been a motte, but there is no documentary evidence for this or for its slighting in the reign of Edward II. It is reasonable to assume that a manor house or a succession of these existed at Harescombe.
There is no trace of a motte or any defensive work at Harescombe. The published 'Castle' site falls in a pasture field. Two or three small platforms probably represent depopulation though there is no trackway leading to the area. The sites of the Fitz Allen and Rouse houses are speculative. The two stretches of water described as "Moat" on the OS 25" are unimpressive and doubtful. The southernmost is a broad deeply cut watercourse, probably entirely natural, and the L-shaped stretch at the north end is little different though it may have been enlarged to form a pond for the local corn mill (F1 NVQ 03-MAR-70).
The area of the supposed manor house was investigated as a student survey exercise in September 2001. There is a large rectangular platform defined by slight scarps generally no more than 0.4m high. The platform, immediately S of the churchyard, measures at least 50m N-S by about 25m transversely. If it is indeed a building platform it suggests more than merely peasant occupation. The millpond, and some fishponds in the close to the W, the existence of which is suggested by the field name 'Fishpond Orchard', have been largely filled in (Mark Bowden/6-Sept-2001/EH student survey exercise). (PastScape)

Recorded by David King as a 'possible' site, which generally meant he had considerable doubts about the site. The site does seem to be that of a manor house but the evidence that this was fortified, or even moated, is very weak. The suggestion it was a castle does seem to an under critical reading of a historical source which probably referred to Haresfield Mount.
Gatehouse is kindly informed that resistivity surveys done prior to 2007 (Ecclestone 2007) indicated “buildings within an enclosure” which could constitute a manor house, but gave no indication of whether the site was fortified.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER            
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact