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 

Hurst Castle, Bradley Wood

In the civil parish of Bradley.
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: SU64484125
Latitude 51.16687° Longitude -1.07916°

Hurst Castle, Bradley Wood has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


n BRADLEY WOOD, on high ground on the plateau, but not on a commanding site, is a little entrenchment of an irregular hooked shape, which, if continued to form a loop, would make an oval about 50 by 20 yards, called by tradition "the ruins of HURST CASTLE".
At the NE. end, the bank is splayed out into a rather irregular circular mound c.40 feet across, which is hollowed out into two irregular pits. The cross division between them seems hard under foot, and a few more flints are found in the crest than elsewhere. The crest is 5 feet above the area, and the ditch is 9 feet below it and 3 feet below the level of the ground inside.
From this mound the bank and ditch run down to the SW. for c.40 yards, and then curving round, die out at the side of an old chalk pit; but there is no trace of connection between the end of the hook and the mound.
Tradition says that bricks and flints have been dug from the site, but there is no trace of them at present. It is impossible to say from the appearance of the earthwworks to what date they belong but they seem more likely, from tradition and from their shape, to be Norman than anything else. It is puzzling and unintelligible and appears to be most likely an uncompleted attempt to build a Norman castle (2).
"I find from conversation with one of our labourers that there is a "HURST CASTLE" in BRADLEY parish...... the man..... tells me he has dug badgers out of the ruins which consisted of brick and flint" (Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments).
Parish of Bradley, in the Hundred of Overton. According to tradition, Bradley Wood, situated in the south-east corner of the parish, contains the site of a castle called Hurst Castle (VCH).
The earthwork is as described by Williams-Freeman. The tradition that the building material has been dug from this site appears to be well-established, but no local person was found who knew the name 'HURST CASTLE'. The pits in the mound at the NE. end of the earthwork contain a few flints but no certain evidence of walling. The bank and ditch appear to be a part of a small ring-motte. In the absence of an exact identification, DR. WILLIAMS-FREEMANS suggestion that it is unfinished seems to be the most satisfactory explanation of its present fragmentary condition. (F1 WCW 25-OCT-56)
This earthwork presents a problem. Whilst the profile, of the best preserved portion, could be that of a ring-motte, the suggestion that the work is unfinished does not stand up to examination.
Following normal construction methods some form of setting-out ditch, at least, might be expected in the northern half, but none is in evidence. Similarly, it is unreasonable to assume that the southern half of the site was constructed 'in toto' without regard to the remainder of the circuit. Finally, if this is an unfinished ring-motte, the presence of brick is difficult to explain - bricks (apart from re-used Roman bricks) were not used in building construction until the late C14th. No other suggestions can be offered as to the date or purpose of this earthwork which remains an enigma (F2 AC 14-DEC-56).

Earthwork entrenchment of an irregular hooked shape, which, if continued to form a loop, would make an oval about 50 yards (45m) by 20 yards (18.28m). At the NE end the bank is splayed out into a rather irregular circular mound c. 40 feet (12.19m) across. From the mound, the bank and ditch run down to the SW for c. 40 yards (36.5,) and then, curving round, dies out at the side of an old chalk pit. Impossible to say from the appearance of the earthwork what date and function but looks like an uncompleted attempt at a Norman Castle (Williams-Freeman). According to tradition, Bradley Wood contained the site of a castle called Hurst Castle. The claim that brick and flint have been found here presents a problem as brick was not used until the later Medieval period suggesting this is not a ringwork. The depression to the NW may be a quarry. (Hampshire AHBR)

Isolated from settlement. No apparent tactical or strategic military value to the site. The small manor was held from the Bishop of Winchester for half a knight's fee probably by a family of sergeant, rather than knightly, status but nothing suggests their manor house was not in the village by the church as would be usual. Quarry workings can produce odd shaped earthworks as spoil is dumped and Gatehouse suspects this is an old (but early modern ?C17/C18) quarry with some collapsed brick built huts and a fanciful history invented by a local to entertain.
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 09:20:06

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