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Godshill Castle Hill, Woodgreen

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Woodgreen.
In the historic county of Hampshire.
Modern Authority of Hampshire.
1974 county of Hampshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU16661617
Latitude 50.94473° Longitude -1.76422°

Godshill Castle Hill, Woodgreen has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a probable Masonry Castle, and also as a probable Siege Work.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


The keep at the south-west end of the entrenchment, is surrounded on all sides, except the Avon, by a low bank. On the south-west side it is surrounded by a moat and outer bank behind the modern farmhouse. A depression, most likely the well, is at the west corner of the keep. The bailey, north-east of the keep, is cut off by a bank & ditch; beyond this there are indications of another bailey. There is a tradition of stones having been taken from this site to build a chapel (Williams-Freeman 1915).
An unusual earthwork comprising an oval ring motte with smaller outer bailey to the north-east and a possible further bailey, now much destroyed by quarrying, to the north-east again. The work is situated on the south-western end of a prominent spur above the River Avon.
It is generally as described by Williams-Freeman; the supposed moat to the south-west of the farm-house may be an outer ditch but is more likely a hollow-way: it was never water-filled as it lies well above the river. Some 300 metres to the north-east of the motte, along the summit of the spur, is a fairly substantial cross-ridge bank some 26.0m in length and 12.0m wide and up to 1.4m in height, with traces of a ditch on its outer side. It is almost certainly an outer defence of the work (F1 FGA 28-APR-69).
It is suggested that this work was the siege castle built against Downton in 1148 (Creighton). (PastScape)

5.5Km downstream from Downton Moot Close where it might, conceivable, control the river access but might be the wrong side of the river to control the major road. The ringwork form is certainly that used by other siege castles (i.e. Exeter Danes castle or The Rings at Corfe) but also by residential castles. The report of masonry might represent a stone building (?chapel) within timber defences rather than strong masonry work but this would certainly not be a feature of a temporary siege castle. Did this castle in fact start as a lodge of a bailiff of the New Forest; later becoming the manor of Fold?
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • English Heritage (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s) 217139.
  • County Historic Environment Record (or Sites and Monuments Record) number(s) 21401.
  • Books
    • Osborne, Mike, 2011, Defending Hampshire: The Military Landscape from Prehistory to the Present (Stroud: The History Press) p. 243 (listed in Appendix)
      Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 273
      Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Wessex (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 40
      Barron, W.G., 1985, The Castles of Hampshire and Isle of Wight (Paul Cave) p. 22
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 191
      Renn, D.F., 1968, Norman Castles of Britain (John Baker) p. 173
      Sumner, Heywood, 1917, Ancient Earthworks of the New Forest (London: Chiswick Press) p. 88-90
      Williams-Freeman, J.P.,1915, An Introduction to Field Archaeology as Illustrated by Hampshire (London) p. 172-4, 368
      Page, Wm (ed), 1911, VCH Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Vol. 4 p. 567-77 (parish history) online transcription
  • Periodical Articles
    • Creighton, O.H., 2000, 'Early Castles in the Medieval Landscape of Wiltshire' Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Vol. 93 p. 108 online copy
      Hughes, Michael, 1989, 'Hampshire Castles and the Landscape 1066-1216' Landscape History Vol. 2 p. 27-60
      King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
      Williams-Freeman, J.P., 1935-7, Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society Vol. 13 p. 234
  • Primary (Medieval documents or transcriptions of such documents - This section is far from complete and the secondary sources should be consulted for full references.)
    • Potter, K.R. (ed), 1976 (2edn), Gesta Stephani (Oxford University Press) p. 204-12
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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