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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Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;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.

Description

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.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER            
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated on Wednesday, July 2, 2014

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