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Basing Old Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Oliver's Battery; Priest's Croft; Kings Horse Croft; veteris castelli de Basing; Lickpit

In the civil parish of Old Basing.
In the historic county of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Modern Authority of Hampshire.
1974 county of Hampshire.
Medieval County of Hampshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU66795352
Latitude 51.27707° Longitude -1.04417°

Basing Old Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


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.
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 It has also been suggested that the castle may have been superseded by the larger stronghold at Basing House, or may have been a siege castle associated with it. (Scheduling Report)

An earthwork shown on the maps as 'Oliver Cromwell's Battery', though its proper name is 'The Priest's Croft'. It is situated a short distance south-east of the river, in a position of no particular strength, and encloses a squarish area of about three acres. The area has irregular mound and depressions of 5' or so in vertical height, and looks as if the banks had been levelled down towards the centre, giving a shallow saucer-shaped appearance. A larger mound on the O.S. plan is much exaggerated and is little if any higher than other irregularities; it is 5' high, and may perhaps be natural. The bank is best marked at the south-east and south-west corners, where it has been cut through for a gateway. There are irregular depressions along the north side as if the soil had been dug away. It is wanting at the centres of the north and west sides in a way that suggests there may have been entrances. The ditch is well marked along the east side, and the eastern part of the north side. CD vertical, 11'. No trace of foundations. The soil is loam, and in a state of nature would be covered by thick woodland (Williams-Freeman).
In 945 King Edmund granted a certain 'monastic house in Basing called the king's horse croft' to his chaplain, Ethelnod, who granted it to St. Peter (late Hyde) Abbey, Winchester. The name 'King's horse-croft' is now applied to a mounded meadow close to the old ford at Pyot's Hill. This earthwork appears to be a motte with double bailey, situated where the probable course of the Silchester - Chichester Roman Road crosses the River Loddon. It is now much reduced by ploughing, the present diameter of the motte being 46.0m, with a height of 1.9m. The baileys are divided by a cross-bank, the western half of which has been ploughed out, and enclosed by a bank and outer ditch which is best preserved on the east. The ditch on the south has been mutilated by a track and its present state may not be original, though the present entrance, at the SW corner has the appearance of being original. The owner, Mrs R. Beddington, 'The Paddock', Basing, stated that the earthwork is known locally as 'Oliver's Battery' or 'Priest's Croft' (F1 VJB 16-JUN-56). (PastScape)

Rather than being a precursor of, or siege castle to, Basing House this may have been the manor house of the small manor of Lickpit which, although held by St Peter's Abbey, Winchester, was sub tenanted to the lords of Basing. Did they further let the manor to a knight in their service or use this house as a subsidiary accommodation? Was the house equipped as a small castle to reflect some martial service?
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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