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The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
 
 
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Harold's House, Portskewett

In the community of Portskewett.
In the historic county of Monmouthshire.
Modern authority of Monmouthshire.
Preserved county of Gwent.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST49868805
Latitude 51.58918° Longitude -2.72539°

Harold's House, Portskewett has been described as a probable Palace, and also as a probable Pele Tower.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.

Description

Supposed traces of the hunting lodge started by King Harold in 1065 and destroyed before completion. Earthworks immediately W of Portskewett church (Nprn307463), comprising: a subrectangular/oval mound/platform, c.21-22.5m in diameter and 1.0m high, with a bank springing from it, defining part of a possible enclosure, c.55m E-W by 25m; on the W is a bank, c.50m E-W by 15m and 1.0m high, possibly forming a pond bay across a damp valley. (Coflien–J.Wiles 20.02.03)

Overgrown & mutilated mound with average measurements of 14 x 8m & height of 1m. None of the banks show a stone content & there are no visible wall footings. (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

The monument comprises the remains of a medieval manor house. The site consists of a series of upstanding earthworks traditionally thought to be the site of a hunting lodge belonging to Harold Godwinson, later King Harold II of England, which is described in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle. The chronicle states that the lodge was destroyed before it was even completed, by Caradog ap Gruffydd on the feast of St Bartholomew (24th August) 1065. Caradog’s attack also involved the massacre of many of Harold’s people. Occupation of the site continued after the attack and it eventually fell under Normal control, with the Domesday Book recording the site as one of three hardwicks (dairy farms) belonging to Chepstow Castle. In 1270 the manor is recorded as in the ownership of the Deneband family who hold it until the fifteenth century, after which it is abandoned and eventually demolished. The site is located on a slight spur immediately W of St Mary’s Church. The earthworks comprise a sub-rectangular or oval platform 21m-22.5m in diameter and 1m high, with a bank defining part of a possible enclosure measuring 55m E/W by 25m N/S. Within the centre of the platform are a series of roughly N/S aligned linear earthworks which appear to be the remains of walls from a stone building. On the western slope of the raised mound is an E/W orientated bank 50m long by 15m wide and 1m high, forming a dam or causeway. The area crossed by the dam forms part of an old stream channel, now silted up, which may have formed a tidal inlet that was navigable from the Severn Estuary. In 2007, an evaluation of the site was carried out by Time Team, the aim of which was to reveal more about the history of the site and establish whether any evidence for the pre-Norman hunting lodge could be found. While the evaluation did find tentative evidence for 11th century activity on the site, no evidence for Harold’s hunting lodge was identified, and all the finds were post-conquest in date. Two buildings were revealed on the site, one a possible animal shelter and the second a much more substantial structure that has been interpreted as a possible tower house. (Scheduling Report)

Underneath the rubble, which included large quantities of medieval roof tiles, the diggers in this trench uncovered a doorway from one building, probably the manor house tower, and two walls from a separate, adjacent structure, probably stables. Dressed stone was recovered from the doorjamb and windows, which proved to be the same size and style as used on St Mary's church, which dates to the early 1100s. The detailing on the window stones, which are known to have been changed on the church in the 1200s, also matched, suggesting that manor house was altered at same time. (TimeTeam)

A.D. 1065. This year, before Lammas, ordered Earl Harold his men to build at Portskeweth in Wales. But when he had begun, and collected many materials, and thought to have King Edward there for the purpose of hunting, even when it was all ready, came Caradoc, son of Griffin, with all the gang that he could get, and slew almost all that were building there; and they seized the materials that were there got ready. Wist we not who first advised the wicked deed. This was done on the mass-day of St. Bartholomew. (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle)
Comments

TimeTeam evaluation excavation in June 2007 found C12-C13 medieval manor house with fortified tower on probably site of late Saxon royal hunting lodge on probably site of early medieval welsh llys. Close to River Severn, although tidal inlet now silted up. On slight hill, along with local church. Typical manorial site.
A further small excavation in 2009 found what was thought to be the foundation of a tower of unmortered, crudely dressed stone on the edge of the site (Pitts, 2011) although this may actually have been a rather more prosaic malting house (Chapman, 2011). Jeremy Knight confirms this identification as a malting house.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 07/07/2016 08:25:46


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