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Portchester Burghal Defences

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Fareham.
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: SU62480456
Latitude 50.83719° Longitude -1.11399°

Portchester Burghal Defences has been described as a certain Urban Defence.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


The Saxon shore fort at Portchester is a well preserved example of its class. The entire defensive circuit survives with very little later modification. Within and around the fort there is significant evidence for its later use. The tower keep castle is an outstanding and well known example which demonstrates in its fabric a complex history of use and modification, while the 10th century defensive burh and the 12th century priory give the site an unusual dimension in terms of the range of uses to which it was put. Excavations over the years have demonstrated the extent to which remains of all aspects of its use and development survive. Both the shore fort and castle are in the care of the Secretary of State and are open to the public.
Excavations within the fort, primarily those carried out on behalf of the Society of Antiquaries between 1961 and 1979, have shown traces of timber buildings laid out beside a regular grid of streets and provided evidence of both civilian and military occupation up to the end of Roman Britain and beyond. The excavations have also shown evidence of settlement dating to the mid- fifth and to the seventh to ninth centuries AD. Sunken floored huts, timber houses and ancillary buildings were found, after which a break in occupation is marked by the extensive dumping of rubbish in the interior of the fort. In AD 904 Portchester was acquired by King Edward the Elder and became a defended burh. Within it excavations have shown buildings dating to the 10th and 11th centuries, including a large aisled hall, and a rectangular stone building around which a cemetery developed. The Watergate in the east wall was probably rebuilt before the Norman Conquest, with a gatehouse built in the southern half of the Roman opening. (Scheduling Report)

The Roman fort was adapted as a Saxon Burh. How much of the enclosure remained urban after the building of Portchester castle may be debatable. An adjoining settlement was not fortified and never reached borough status.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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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.
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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