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Historic England Research Records

Portchester Castle

Hob Uid: 238704
Location :
Hampshire
Fareham
City of Portsmouth
Non Civil Parish
Grid Ref : SU6244004590
Summary : The site of Porchester Castle situated within the preserved walls of a Roman fort. The fort is thought to date to the 280s AD, and may possibly be that of 'Portus Adurni'. The fort was reused for a Saxon community from the 5th century, and in circa 904 became a stronghold or burgh to protect Wessex from Viking raids. After the Norman Conquest the Roman walls became the defensive perimeter of a castle owned by William Mauduit. The principal buildings lay in the north-west corner of the fort, and the inner bailey was built by 1100. In circa 1130 the castle was acquired by William Pont de l'Arche, who may have built the curtain wall of the bailey and doubled the height of the keep. At this time a monastic foundation was also established, all that remains of this is the parish church in the outer bailey. In 1320-6 the buildings on the west of the inner bailey became a self-contained palace; rebuilt by Richard II in 1396-9 it remained important for successive kings because of its access to the Continent. Repairs were made in the 1490s and in 1563 it was used as a military hospital. Elizabeth I held court here in 1603, shortly before the eastern ranges were remodelled. From 1665 it was used intermittently as a prisoner of war camp until the end of the Napoleonic wars. Between 1802 and 1810 it was used as an Ordnance depot. The last prisoners left in 1814 and the castle was abandoned by the army in 1819. Most of the prison buildings were subsequently demolished and in the 1920s unemployed miners were used to clear the site. It is now in the care of English Heritage. Upstanding remains include the 12th century keep with the early 19th century CastleTheatre, Richard II's palace, the great hall range, great chamber range, east range, gatehouse, several gates, and the Church of St Mary. Excavations have also identified the remains of Roman occupation and burials; several Saxon buildings, including a 10th century residence with a hall and tower, and an inhumation cemetery.
More information : (Centred SU 62480456) Roman Fort (remains of)
Portchester Castle [NR] (1)

See attached MOW Booklet. (2-3)

No change. Published 1:1250 survey correct, except for minor revision on SU 6204 NW. Under excavation by Prof Cunliffe. (4)

PORTUS ARDAONI or ARDAONIUM (?) Probably the Roman Fort at Portchester. (5)

Scheduled No 4. (6)

Grade I. (7)

Without further evidence the Roman name of Portchester remains unknown; the location of Portus Adurni is uncertain. Coin and other evidence suggests that the Portchester defences were erected early in the reign of Carausius, probably 286-290,and abandoned not long afterwards. The walls, forward-projecting bastions, gates and ditches of Portchester are contemporary with similar structures in Britain and Europe in the late 3rd century AD. However, occupation seems to have been continuous throughout the 4th century AD into the early 5th century. Pottery finds, though meagre, suggest occupation throughout the period 400-700 AD. From the late 7th or early 8th century, post-built houses were built, the community becoming wealthier in the 9th and 10th centuries. The King acquired Portchester in 904. The final phase of Saxon building was the late 10th century. Throughout the 12th century after the building of the Norman keep, the castle was a frontline defence and the village outside began to take shape. The outer earthwork was probably constructed in 1320-40. In 1396-99 the castle was converted to a Royal residence. Full summaries and synthesis by major period. (8-10)

Concise architectural report. (11)

Dendrochronological examination of the Anglo-Saxon well timbers has shown that the lower well timbers date to circa 602 +- 2 AD, but the upper timbers date to 750 AD, indicating a later re-lining of the well. (12)

Additional references relating to the excavations at Portchester Castle between 1969-1971. Only one-eighth of the total area of the enclosure was excavated. Summaries and syntheses of each major period are presented in authorities 17 and 19. (13-24)

Listed by Cathcart King. (25)

The castle is first documented in 1153 when it was restored to William Mauduit, but on his accession in 1154, Henry II took it into royal possession, where it remained thereafter. It occupies the north-west corner of the Saxon Shore Fort, and has a rectangular bailey occupying 8 acres. The Land Gate is on the west side and the Watergate on the east of the Saxon Shore Fort. In the 12th century the Roman wall was broken through to build the rectangular tower-keep which projects beyond the line of the Roman wall.

In June 1216 the castle surrendered to Louis of France but was recovered by the following April when Oliver d'Aubeny was ordered to level it, or failing that, fire the keep. After the expulsion of Louis' army, it was further repaired and maintained.

From 1396-9, Richard II rebuilt the great hall as a new set of apartments along the South and East sides of the bailey, the ruins of which still remain. By 1441 the castle was regarded as ruinous and feeble, and despite a 10 year renovation programme, the money was not enough to remedy the decay. (26)

During the 16th century it was useful as a military depot, a buttressed storehouse 240 feet long and 30 feet wide being built near the south-west angle of the outer ward. This was moved to Portsmouth in the late 16th century. The Navy considered turning it into a hospital, but it was considered better to build such a building afresh. (27)

There are 6 late 14th century gunports in Assheton's Tower and 3 in the curtain wall south of the keep. (28)

A wall painting survives on the second floor of the Norman keep. The painting consists of two large decorative lozenges framed by swags in grand rococo style, between which is a roundel containing a depiction of the castle. Originally the painting was thought to have been painted by prisoners of war interned during the period 1794-1810; however, recent technical examination has shown the original colour range includes French ultramarine, which was not commerically available in England until about 1830. Graffiti has also been found etched within the area of painting dated 1840. It is now thought the painting was executed during the 19th century, when the castle was privately owned by Mr Sutton, who used the keep to stage plays. (29)

A late Saxon inhumation cemetery was also excavated on the site (not previously noted in the indexing but included following PastScape feedback (26/03/2007)). This included 21 burials most of which appeared to be paired. This may suggest that there was a family relationship between the individuals in each pair. See Cunliffe, 1976, page 60-61. [9]

The Cunliffe excavation archive (paper and material), 627567, and the 1930s excavation material, 627566, and the CAU archive for 1992, are all held at Fort Brockhurst by English Heritage curatorial staff. (30)

A new guidebook. The fort was reused for a Saxon community from the 5th century, and in circa 904 became a stronghold or burgh to protect Wessex from Viking raids. After the Norman Conquest the Roman walls became the defensive perimeter of a castle owned by William Mauduit. The principal buildings lay in the north-west corner of the fort, and the inner bailey was built by 1100. In circa 1130 the castle was acquired by William Pont de l'Arche, who may have built the curtain wall of the bailey and doubled the height of the keep. At this time a monastic foundation was also established, all that remains of this is the parish church in the outer bailey. In 1320-6 the buildings on the west of the inner bailey became a self-contained palace; rebuilt by Richard II in 1396-9 it remained important for successive kings because of its access to the Continent. Repairs were made in the 1490s and in 1563 it was used as a military hospital. Elizabeth I held court here in 1603, shortly before the eastern ranges were remodelled. From 1665 it was used intermittently as a prisoner of war camp until the end of the Napoleonic wars. Between 1802 and 1810 it was used as an Ordnance depot. The last prisoners left in 1814 and the castle was abandoned by the army in 1819. Most of the prison buildings were subsequently demolished and in the 1920s unemployed miners were used to clear the site. (31)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1962
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Portchester Castle MOW 1965
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : Medieval military architecture in England. Volume 2
Source details :
Page(s) : 388-401
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 119-121
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 28 (1984)
Source Number : 13
Source : The Saxon culture-sequence at Portchester Castle [Hampshire]
Source details :
Page(s) : 67-85
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 50 (1970)
Source Number : 14
Source : Excavations at Portchester Castle, Hants, 1966-68; third interim report
Source details :
Page(s) : 62-74
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 49 (1969)
Source Number : 15
Source : The Tudor storehouse at Portchester Castle, Hampshire
Source details :
Page(s) : 188-190
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 5 (1972)
Source Number : 16
Source : Excavations at Portchester Castle, Hampshire, 1969-1971: fourth interim report [3rd- to 19th-century occupation]
Source details :
Page(s) : 70-83
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 52 (1972)
Source Number : 17
Source : Excavations at Portchester Castle, volume 4 : Medieval, the inner bailey
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) : no.43
Source Number : 18
Source : Tree-ring examination of timbers from the 6th-century well at Portchester Castle
Source details :
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Source Number : 19
Source : Excavations at Portchester Castle, volume 5 : post medieval 1609-1819
Source details :
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Vol(s) : no.52
Source Number : 20
Source : Portchester Castle, Hampshire [official guide]
Source details :
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Source Number : 3
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 1938 5NC16597 H
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Source Number : 21
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 26-Feb-98
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 22
Source : The Roman forts of the Saxon Shore
Source details :
Page(s) : 59-62
Figs. : 38
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 23
Source : A gazetteer of early Anglo-Saxon burial sites
Source details :
Page(s) : 97
Figs. :
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Source Number : 24
Source : Ordnance Survey guide to castles in Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 25
Figs. :
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Source Number : 25
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the islands. Volume I : Anglesey - Montgomery
Source details :
Page(s) : 192
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 26
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 2 : the Middle Ages
Source details :
Page(s) : 783-92
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 27
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 3 : 1485-1660 (part 1)
Source details :
Page(s) : 291-2
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 28
Source : Fort : the international journal of fortification and military architecture
Source details :
Page(s) : 83
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 4, 1977
Source Number : 29
Source : Our painted past : wall paintings of English Heritage
Source details :
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Source Number : 30
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Ex. inf. Pam Braddock, EH, via PastScape website comments log, 24-MAY-2007
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 ASP 22-JAN-1969
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Source Number : 31
Source : Portchester Castle
Source details :
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Source Number : 5
Source : The place-names of Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 441-2
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : List of ancient monuments in England: Volume 1, Northern England; Volume 2, Southern England; Volume 3, East Anglia and the Midlands
Source details :
Page(s) : 101
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : District of Fareham: 22-OCT-1976
Page(s) : 14
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 899
Source Number : 8
Source : Excavations at Portchester Castle, volume 1 : Roman
Source details :
Page(s) : 1-453
Figs. :
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Vol(s) : 32
Source Number : 9
Source : Excavations at Portchester Castle, volume 2 : saxon
Source details :
Page(s) : 1-323
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 33
Source Number : 10
Source : Excavations at Portchester Castle, volume 3 : medieval, the outer bailey and its defences
Source details :
Page(s) : 1-253
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 34

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Built late 3rd century AD
Monument End Date : 300
Monument Start Date : 267
Monument Type : Saxon Shore Fort
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Mid 5th century
Monument End Date : 466
Monument Start Date : 433
Monument Type : Settlement, Grubenhaus
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : C7 to C9
Monument End Date : 900
Monument Start Date : 601
Monument Type : Settlement, Grubenhaus
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : From 904
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 904
Monument Type : Burh, Inhumation Cemetery
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit, Stratified Find
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Late 11th century
Monument End Date : 1100
Monument Start Date : 1067
Monument Type : Keep, Castle
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Phase circa 1130
Monument End Date : 1140
Monument Start Date : 1120
Monument Type : Keep, Curtain Wall, Castle, Angle Tower, Gatehouse
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Phase 1320-1326
Monument End Date : 1326
Monument Start Date : 1320
Monument Type : Keep, Royal Palace, Castle, Great Hall
Evidence : Extant Building, Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Phase 1369-1400
Monument End Date : 1400
Monument Start Date : 1369
Monument Type : Keep, Royal Palace, Castle
Evidence : Extant Building, Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Recorded as ruined 1441
Monument End Date : 1441
Monument Start Date : 1441
Monument Type : Castle, Keep
Evidence : Extant Building, Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Painting executed 1830-1840
Monument End Date : 1845
Monument Start Date : 1825
Monument Type : Wall Painting
Evidence : Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : HA 4
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 141469
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 26714
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 209
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SU 60 SW 1
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 623248
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1074334
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 238724
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1081180
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, PORTCHESTER CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1929-01-01
End Date : 1933-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, PORTCHESTER CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1961-01-01
End Date : 1978-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SU 60 SW 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1969-01-22
End Date : 1969-01-22
Associated Activities : Primary, PORTCHESTER CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1989-01-01
End Date : 1989-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, PORTCHESTER CASTLE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, PORTCHESTER CASTLE
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, PORTCHESTER CASTLE CARPARK
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31