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Faringdon Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Faringdon Clump; Cromwells Battery; Farringdon; Folly Hill; Ferenduna; Farundunensis; Ferendunam

In the civil parish of Great Faringdon.
In the historic county of Berkshire.
Modern Authority of Oxfordshire.
1974 county of Oxfordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU29749565
Latitude 51.65887° Longitude -1.57140°

Faringdon Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.


The site of a castle of circa 1144 or C13 in date. Excavations by E T Leeds revealed that the site consisted of a single rampart and two ditches surrounding a central keep. Pottery of C13 to C14 date was found which may indicate the validity of the later date for the castle. (PastScape)

Faringdon seems to have been a royal residence before the Conquest, as it is recorded that Edward the Elder died here in 924. Whether a royal household was maintained here after the Conquest is uncertain, but in or about 1144 Robert Earl of Gloucester and other adherents of the Empress Maud constructed a castle at Faringdon, which was stormed and taken by Stephen in 1145. This castle, which was doubtless only an earthwork with timber defences, was probably destroyed shortly afterwards, but the fact that in 1179 Faringdon was in the charge of William the Porter suggests that possibly part of the castle or some other royal residence then survived. In 1202, however, King John granted the site of the castle to St. Mary of Citeaux, to found there a Cistercian abbey, and in the following year he provided timber for the buildings. The monks entered into possession, but probably found the position unsuitable, and in 1203 they were moved to Beaulieu. After this date no further reference to the castle is found. Some 8 acres of land called the Bailey in the 16th century, which lay next to the Parsonage Close, seem to indicate the position of the site as at Faringdon Clump, on a hill that commands both the Oxford and Wantage roads. (VCH)

Brown writes this was a royal castle almost certainly abandoned by 1216 and the history from the VCH clearly informed and supported this view. The C13 pottery finds may be incidental and misleading and may represent a low status reuse of the castle site.

A Cromwellian battery and Lord Berners Folly, a tower of 1935, are on the site.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • English Heritage (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s) 225763.
  • County Historic Environment Record (or Sites and Monuments Record) number(s) 3087.
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 273
      Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of The Thames Valley and The Chilterns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 70
      Coulson, Charles, 1994, 'The Castles of the Anarchy' in King, Edmund (ed.), The Anarchy of King Stephen's Reign (Oxford University Press) p. 71
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 11
      Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 230
      Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 189
      Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 29
      Page, Wm and Ditchfield, P.H., 1924, VCH Berkshire Vol. 4 p. 489 online transcription
      Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
      Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 174-5 online copy
  • Periodical Articles
    • Brown, R, Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
      Passmore, A.D., 1954, Oxoniensia Vol. 19 p. 117 plate VIIB online copy
      Jope, E.M., 1947, 'Medieval Pottery in Berkshire' Berkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 50 p. 70 download copy
      Bruce-Mitford, R.L.S., 1939, 'The Archaeology of the Site of the Bodleian Extension in Broad Street, Oxford' Oxoniensia Vol. 4 p. 140-4 online copy
      Leeds, E.T., 1937, 'An Adulterine Castle on Faringdon Clump, Berkshire. Second report' Antiquaries Journal Vol. 17 p. 294-8
      Leeds, E.T., 1936, 'An Adulterine Castle on Faringdon Clump, Berkshire' Antiquaries Journal Vol. 16 p. 165-78
  • Primary (Medieval documents or transcriptions of such documents - This section is far from complete and the secondary sources should be consulted for full references.)
    • Madden, F. (ed), 1866, Matthæi Parisiensis, monachi Sancti Albani: Historia Anglorum (Rolls Series 44) Vol. 1 p. 275 online copy
      Luard, H.R (ed), 1865, 'Annales de Waverleia' in Annales Monastici (Rolls Series 36) Vol. 2 p. 230-1 online copy
      Howlett, R. (ed), 1886, Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II, and Richard I (Rolls series 82) Vol. 3 p. 115-16 online copy
      Sewell, R.C. (ed), 1846, Gesta Stephani, Regis Anglorum et Ducis Normannorum p. 113-14 online copy (The newer edition and translation by Potter, K.R. (ed), 1976 (2edn), Gesta Stephani (Oxford University Press) should be consulted for serious study. See also Speight, S., 2000, 'Castle Warfare in the Gesta Stephani' , Château Gaillard Vol. 19 see online transcription)
  • Antiquarian (Histories and accounts from late medieval and early modern writers)
    • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
      Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 33
      Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 125 online copy
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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