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Rowlands Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Rowlands Castle.
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: SU73341054
Latitude 50.88970° Longitude -0.95866°

Rowlands Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a probable Masonry Castle.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Motte and bailey which has been partly dug away on the eastern side. The entrance appears to have been in the centre of the western bank opposite the mound. Prior to the construction of the railway a deep gorge existed on the east of the mound but all that remains is a ditch 80 yds east of the mound. This rather suggests that the plan of the stronghold may have been a rectangular bailey with a central mound. A large piece of flint masonry lies at the base of the mound on the east side and is said to be part of the original keep. A plan and sections made by Charles Lewis, probably when the railway was planned (Williams-Freeman).
A good example of a Motte and Bailey although it has been heavily mutilated by quarrying. The 'ditch' on east side of the railway is an old quarry (F1 FGA 12-SEP-68). (PastScape)

The monument includes a raised mound, 9.45m above its corresponding ditch, which is 18m in diameter at the top. Early descriptions of the monument have recorded large scale fragmented stonework at the top of the mound and within the eastern ditch. The eastern side of the mound is described as eroded or has been dug away. The bank and ditch of the rectangular bailey extends westwards from the motte and an entrance way is recorded through the western bank.
The eastern bank of the monument has been heavily truncated by the route of the railway. The southern extent has been truncated by clay pits dug for tile production and is now physically lower than what appears to be a large bank of waster tiles overgrown with trees and bushes adjoins the boundary of the monument and the site. A description of the monument, before the railway truncation (and possibly the quarrying) has taken place, is recorded in Charles Longcrofts The Hundred of Bosemere (1857) which describes:
The only remains of Rowlands Castle now to be seen are two large masses of wall composed of flint, undressed stone, chalk and mortar, apparently not Roman, and powdering to dust whilst rubbed. (Smith and Hawkins)

the remains of a ruin covered with ivy, said to be all that is left of what was once 'Rowland's Castle.' There are but few references to this castle in documents preserved in the British Museum and the Record Office. It appears from Harleian MS. 6602 that the abbot and convent of Titchfield and their men of Wellsworth, in the time of Edward II, had common of pasture in the Forest of Bere, from a place called Meslyngforth, even to 'Rolokescastel.' (Harl. MS. 6602, fol. 25). (VCH)

In Lyttleton's History of Henry II, he states that Rowland's Villa, after the departure of the Romans, fell into the hands of the Saxon invaders, who converted it into a fortress, and that its castle, towers, and battlements were in a perfect state of repair when Henry II, who was fond of the chase, passed several days there in hunting and amusements. Henry II began to reign in 1154, and, as the Castle was perfect in his time, it seems probable that it had become an escheat of the crown before the 17th Stephen, 1142, because in that year all the castles improperly erected by noblemen and lords, without licence, were ordered to be razed, according to Matthew Paris, who says—" That all those castles, which contrary to good reason and good order, had been made and builded by any manner of person in the days of King Stephen, should be overthrown and cast down, which were found to be 1115." If therefore Rowland's Castle within and parcel of the Manor of Warblington, were perfect and in a habitable state, so late as at some period between 1154 and 1189, what good reason can there be for supposing that there existed another Castle at Warblington at one and the same time, particularly as there is no information on the destruction of the Monastery, which in all likelihood was used as a place of residence until it was pulled down to make way for the Castle. It seems to me that Rowland's Castle was occupied down to about the middle of the fourteenth century, when it fell into a state of decay, up to which time there was no Castle whatever at Warblington, but that upon the accession of Sir John de Montacute who married Margaret, daughter and heiress of Thomas de Monthermer, he built the present Castle of Warblington, and that from that time it was occasionally occupied by the various lords until the grant to Sir Richard Cotton, who held the Manor of the King in capite by the fortieth part of a knight's fee, after which he and his descendants resided there permanently up to the period when the Castle was besieged and demolished in 1642. (Longcrofts 1857)

The tenurial history is unclear; indeed even identifying which manor the castle is situated in is problematic. Longcroft appears to suggest it is in the north of Warblington manor and was the precursor of Warblington Castle. This is an elderly account but deserves consideration.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

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