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 

Woodgarston, Wootton St Lawrence

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;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

In the civil parish of Wootton St Lawrence.
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: SU58455507
Latitude 51.29177° Longitude -1.16314°

Woodgarston, Wootton St Lawrence has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The earthwork at Woodgarston is situated on fairly level ground near the edge of the chalk plateau which slopes rapidly down to the Kennet valley about 500 yards to the north. It is circular, 43 yards in diameter from crest to crest of the vallum. The rampart stands 8 feet above the area and 19 above the bottom of the ditch, and there is no bank on the counterscarp.
In the grass field to the west of the road, are traces of the curved bank and ditch of the bailey - C.D. vertical only 3 1/2 feet. The bank begins at the back of the cart sheds and is lost at the corner of the field in the fence which runs northwards on a 5 feet bank. On the east of the road, continuing the line of the buildings beyond the pond, is the faintest fold in the ground curving round to the north-east towards the line of a garden fence.
The rampart of the keep is covered with large flints, both lying loose and embedded. They are especially well seen under the roots of an elm on the west.
The soil is clay - two or three feet thick on chalk and the ground would be naturally forest. There is a well within the keep, still in use. Early mention is made of a chapel at Woodgarston. All the modern farm buildings are within the line of the bailey (Williams-Freeman).
In a grant of land by Eadmund ("B.803" A charter of A.D.945 Cartularium Saxonicum, Vol. II (1887), p. 560, (birch) Wealagaerstune - 'the Grass Enclosure of the Walls' is mentioned. This is now represented by Woodgarston Farm by which are the remains of an old fort; hence the 'Walls' in the old name (Grundy).
The main earthwork - a ring motte - is in good preservation, under grass and trees with a few portable sheds and small farm-lumber within it. The bank and ditch, as described by Williams-Freeman, survive on all but the south side. Here, opposite the farmhouse, the bank has been levelled and there is no trace of the ditch. On the west, the ditch has a causeway opposite a lowering of the bank.
The interior of the motte is raised above the general level and its north-east corner is slightly raised possibly indicating the site of a building. On the bank are numbers of large flints and, as stated by Williams-Freeman, under the exposed roots of one tree is the debris of a well. The well is now disused and covered by iron and timber posts.
The bank and ditch described as a bailey by Williams-Freeman accompanies an old hedge-bank, on the south-west. It appears to be a continuation of the hedge bank to the north, and I am of the opinion that it is so slight as to be of doubtful antiquity. No trace of its extension to the east was seen.
Dr. Crawford, in conversation, August 1956, dismissed the identification of the motte with the Saxon derivation of Woodgarston (Field Investigators Comments F1 WCW 22-DEC-56). (PastScape)

There were 4 hides of land at WOOTTON which were granted in 940 by King Edmund to his thegn Edric for three lives, and in 956 by King Eadwig to Æthelwold: this land was perhaps included in the 5 hides which belonged at the time of the Domesday Survey to Hugh de Port and had previously been held of King Edward the Confessor by Elmar and Alviet. The estate was probably incorporated in the manor of Monk Sherborne and granted to the priory there by Henry de Port, for no mention occurs of it among the St. John lands, and Michael, the Prior of Sherborne, was stated to be holding a lay fee in Wootton St. Lawrence in the reign of Henry III. (VCH)

Scheduled as a 'ring-motte'.
The dismissal of this earthwork as being derived from Saxon place-name is in line with the state of knowledge in the 1950s. However it is entirely possible this earthwork is a Norman rebuilding or strengthening of any earlier Saxon site.
The site is beside a crossroads (although the N/S road is now reduce to a foot path the E/W route is still a major trunk road), on the side of a hill beside a well. It is close to farm buildings and probably represents the site of a medieval farmstead. If this was the thegnal manor of Edric it may be it was strengthened in the post-Conquest period and became one of the castles 'destroyed' at the request of Henry II after The Anarchy by being granted to a priory (The 'destruction' being an economic one where the tenant changed from someone paying with military service to someone paying a rent to a priory - although not necessarily a different person)
This has been suggested as the 'Castle of the Wood' stormed in 1147 although it may have been too small a site and too lowly held to be mentioned. Silchester is possibly a better alternative for that site but see also Woodchester.
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