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 

Silchester Amphitheatre

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Castellum de Silva; Castle of the Wood

In the civil parish of Mortimer West End.
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: SU64476260
Latitude 51.35882° Longitude -1.07546°

Silchester Amphitheatre has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Excavations between 1979 and 1985 confirmed that the Roman Amphitheatre was first constructed between 55 and 75 AD with a seating capacity of 3,600 to 3,700. It survived into the first half of C2, and some elements survived into the second stone phase. A second timber phase was dated to C2. it was replaced in stone in the early to mid C3.
There is no evidence for reuse of the amphitheatre until the late C11/early C12 when a single-aisled hall was constructed in the arena. Fulford argues that the hall may be regarded as the manor house of Silchester during this period. The amphitheatre appears to have been used as a ringwork, containing the hall and possibly one ancillary building with traces of one or more possible fighting platforms. From the early C15 until the 1970s the arena had been used as a farmyard for The Mount farmhouse, and had been metalled by C17 or early C18. (PastScape ref. Fulford)

Possible the Castellum de Silva reported to be taken by King Stephen in 1147 (but see Woodchester and Woodgarston). The original celtic placename of Calleva meant 'The Place in the Woods'. Is the Saxon place-name derived from a Latin/Saxon mix? i.e. Silva-ceastra.
The amphitheatre would have represented a ready made defence for a manor house but it seems the site was too constricted and the manor house was rebuilt slightly to the south where it had a deer park, licenced in 1204 to Ralph Bluet, significant parts of the pale surviving. The form of Bluet's C13 manor house is unknown. It was, almost certainly, near the Norman church which lies within the walls of the Roman city but was probably not otherwise defended. The Roman city walls survive to impressive height even today but the circuit is far to large to have been defensible for the medieval village (which was also by the church - but has now moved 1km west) or manor. Indeed the Roman walls have been broken through in this area to allow village expansion along the roads, rather than extending the village into the area of the old Roman city.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
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