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Powderham Castle, Crondall

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Powder Castle

In the civil parish of Crondall.
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: SU80274687
Latitude 51.21540° Longitude -0.85211°

Powderham Castle, Crondall has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a probable Siege Work.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The remains of a Norman stronghold, of which the history is lost, marked on the (old) O.S. map as "Roman entrenchment". "The mound itself consists of a round knoll, 30 yards in diameter, the top of which forms a roughly square platform which has traces of flints along the northern side and at three of the corners of the square, which undoubtedly form the foundations of a wall. At the west end of the northern face, these.... appear to be about 4'6" in width. A circular ditch 9' deep surrounds the mound, and outside this is a circular bank, which expanded at the three existing corners (the SE. corner has been ploughed away... There is a short length of straight bank and ditch running close to (the mound) upon the W. side, with marked traces of flints along the top, while in the hedge to the N. of the mound just enough is left to suggest that we probably have here the NW corner of a square bailey with a corner mound... Locally the place is known as Powderham Castle" (Williams-Freeman).
"The statement made by some writers that a (Roman) villa has been found at Powderham... seems really to refer to the Crondall villa" (SU 74 NE7- SU 79524712) (VCH 1900).
Further work by Williams-Freeman suggests that this may be a "Roman Watch Tower or Signal station" on the following grounds:
(i) The mound is completely surrounded by its own ditch.
(ii) The mound is too small to carry a walled structure.
(iii) There is no saucer-like depression in the top of the mound. Typical of a destroyed building but on the contrary there is "evidence of a centre platform".
(iv) The square enclosure is small for a bailey.
(v) There is no evidence of a well.
(vi) The similarity in plan and measurements to excavated examples at Old Burrow, Exmoor and Scarborough.
(vii) The position commands an extensive view (Typescript, (c.1932), (Williams-Freeman MSS)).
"This..has been considered to be a Norman motte.. of a somewhat peculiar form but it very closely resembles a Ro. watch tower". Some members of the Surrey Arch. Soc., made "a grave-like" excavation in the bottom of the ditch and found fragments of a large earthenware vessel of Norman type "thus shewing Norman occupation if not construction" (Williams-Freeman 1933-34).
The earthwork comprises a mound of near-circular plan surrounded by the remnants of a ditch and apparent outer bank. It appears to be a motte with an uneven surface on which quantities of flints probably indicate former buildings. A recent mutilation on the E. side shows the mound to be of sand containing large flints.
The ditch averages 5.0m in width and 1.1m deep. The outer bank is poorly preserved but on the W. has the remains of a substantial flint wall upon it, which, at the SW corner, appears to form a right-angled corner. Elsewhere, flints and the fine grit of decayed mortar on the bank indicate its former course. The bank and wall are mutilated by chicken-runs on the W. and at the SE corner is an area of mutilation possibly attributable to the recorded excavation - No trace of a bailey evident elsewhere (F1 WCW 09-MAR-56).
A small motte which, together with a newly recognised example some 800.0m to the SW (SU 74 NE 9) forms part of an unusual and largely unexplained medieval complex centred on Bailey Pound (SU 74 NE 8). Gough's Camden shows "Powderham Castle" but ignores Barley Pound, the far larger and more complex motte nearby (F2 CFW 23-NOV-67).
Identified as a siege-castle built c.1147, in conjunction with a second siege-castle at Bentley (SU 74 NE 9), to blockade the ringwork at Barley Pound (SU 74 NE 8) (King and Renn 1971).

Somewhat unusual small motte and bailey in close association with the more usual Barley Pound. Explanations of this as a siege castle clearly have merit but other explanations, such as a hunting park feature, may also be given consideration. An interesting idea may be this is the centre of a long linear manor stretching north to Crondall village adjacent to a similar linear manor centred on Barley Pound (see 1998, Crondall Historic Rural Settlement esp Map 13), making this site a manor house dressed up with some martial features in a 'keeping up with the Jones's' fashion.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

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