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Pinsley Motte, Southwick and Widley

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Portsdown; Port Down

In the civil parish of Southwick and Widley.
In the historic county of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Modern Authority of Hampshire (City of Winchester).
1974 county of Hampshire.
Medieval County of Hampshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU639073
Latitude 50.86169° Longitude -1.09342°

Pinsley Motte, Southwick and Widley has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


One of the least common forms of Norman earthwork - a square bailey with a corner mount of somewhat higher elevation than is usual in this county, and possessing the unusual feature that the bailey bank and ditch completely surround the mount and that its ditch does not merge with that of the bailey; it stands separated from the bailey bank by a space of 10 - 20 feet.
The mount, in the NE corner of the bailey, is about 20 yards in diameter, and rises about 3 feet above the remains of the level area on the SE side. It is completely surrounded by its ditch, which measures 30 - 40 feet from lip to lip and is 13 feet below the level of the mound where this is best preserved.
The bailey remains perfect only on the N of the mound. Here the bank rises 5 feet above the area and 10 feet above the bottom of the ditch. A band of chalky ploughland about 40 feet broad but now quite level (not shown on plan) indicates the line of the western side. There is an entrance, apparently original, in the N side of the bailey, opposite the centre of the mound, and a low bank runs from the NW side of the mount ditch and joins the N bank of the bailey.
The Portsmouth - Southwick road cuts diagonally across the site from SE - NW, and large chalk-pits and shallow irregular diggings have further destroyed the remains, only the NW half of the bailey, together with the mount, now remaining. There are now no traces of foundations, or of a well (Williams-Freeman).
The castle mound, intact but heavily overgrown, is encircled by a ditch. The bailey bank (and, along the overgrown northern side,
its outer bank) is well preserved to the east of the road, except where cut through by chalk pits. The interior of the bailey on this side has been completely quarried away by shallow chalk pits. The area to the west of the road is under plough and no trace of the bailey bank survives (F1 VJB 10-AUG-55).
Ploughing has reduced the motte to a slight spread mound of unsurveyable proportions, and has erased all other features to the S of it. Some 40.0 metres of the bailey bank, with traces of the ditch, remain either side of the N entrance, covered with undergrowth (F2 ASP 20-JAN-69). (PastScape)

A damaged site that was reportedly of unusual form and large size situated on an apparently isolated site on a slope overlooking Portchester. There does not seem to be any dating evidence to support the identification as a Norman site. The road cutting through the site seems to be relatively modern the older route, to the west, being marked by a lane (called Drove Road) and a footpath. Has any critical investigation been made of this site? Is there any dating evidence - the road was widened fairly recently - did these works find dating evidence? Are there alternative explanations for this earthwork (ie C17 fieldwork; C17-C19 practice field work; Medieval hunting lodge with viewpoint)? It may be that, if there is little or no medieval material, this just shows a site of a very short life as possibly a centre of an unrealised manor that got absorbed into the grant of land made in 1133 that set up Southwick Priory.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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