Odiham Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008705

Date first listed: 26-Jun-1924

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Aug-1994


Ordnance survey map of Odiham Castle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hampshire

District: Hart (District Authority)

Parish: Greywell

County: Hampshire

District: Hart (District Authority)

Parish: Odiham

National Grid Reference: SU 72577 51807, SU 72604 51866


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

A tower keep castle is a strongly fortified residence in which the keep is the principal defensive feature. The keep may be free-standing or surrounded by a defensive enclosure; they are normally square in shape, although other shapes are known. Internally they have several floors providing accommodation of various types. If the keep has an attached enclosure this will normally be defined by a defensive wall, frequently with an external ditch. Access into the enclosure was provided by a bridge across the ditch, allowing entry via a gatehouse. Additional buildings, including stabling for animals and workshops, may be found within the enclosure. Tower keep castles were built throughout the medieval period, from immediately after the Norman Conquest to the mid- 15th century, with a peak in the middle of the 12th century. A few were constructed on the sites of earlier earthwork castle types but most were new creations. They provided strongly fortified residences for the king or leading families and occur in both urban or rural situations. Tower keep castles are widely dispersed throughout England with a major concentration on the Welsh border. They are rare nationally with only 104 recorded examples. Considerable diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and defence, and to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples retaining significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally important.

The 13th century royal castle at Odiham survives well, most of the site having remained largely undisturbed since the castle fell out of use, probably in the 16th century. Partial excavation has indicated that the site contains archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the construction, use and abandonment of the castle; it also gives an insight into the economy and way of life of its occupants.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument, which falls into two areas, includes the 13th century royal castle at Odiham. The castle, built by King John, is situated on low-lying ground within a bend of the River Whitewater, about 1.5km north west of the town of Odiham. The castle includes a ruined keep (Listed Grade I) standing in one of two contiguous moated enclosures with a third enclosure to the south east. The south western corners of the moat, southern moated enclosure and outer earthworks were damaged during the construction of the Basingstoke Canal in the 18th century. South of the canal, only the south western corner of the moat is visible, surviving as a small pond; the remainder survives as a buried feature. The moat encompasses and divides a sub-rectangular area measuring c.120m by 104m into two enclosures, the northern one being the larger. The moat is a single broad ditch up to 15m wide but, from the canal around the north west corner of the castle and along part of its northern side, two outer banks and an intermediate ditch supplement it, giving an overall width to the defences of c.30m. A ruined, buttressed, octagonal keep, three storeys high and c.17m in external diameter, stands slightly west of the centre of the northern moated enclosure. For the most part only the mortared flint core of the keep remains; ashlar facing is preserved at the internal base of the wall, however, and a dressed stone window arch and chimney with part of a tile- arched fireplace survive at higher levels. Recesses for timbers are visible on both interior and exterior faces of the keep wall. The undulating ground level outside the keep is 2m-3m higher than that of the interior, but no other structural remains are visible. The southern enclosure is a level platform containing no upstanding structural remains. There is a third similarly orientated and slightly undulating enclosure, measuring approximately 100m by 50m, in the adjoining field to the south east. The northern side of this enclosure is marked by a ditch extending north eastwards from the southern moat and the other sides by low banks, not more than 0.3m high and c.3m wide. Except for the south west corner of the moat, there are no earthworks associated with the castle in the wet and low-lying field south of the canal, which shows signs of having been used as water meadows, nor in the area north east of the castle, also formerly part of a water meadow and more recently remodelled to accommodate a lake. The castle was built some distance from the town of Odiham, the site of a royal residence since the early 12th century, by King John. Documentary sources indicate that the first castle was built between 1207 and 1212. Shortly after, in 1216, the castle was besieged by the French and may have been so badly damaged as to need rebuilding, possibly with the octagonal keep, since partial excavation in the 1880's has indicated that this was not the first structure on the site. The castle remained in royal hands, undergoing various documented piecemeal improvements and repairs, until at least 1483, after which there are no such further references; it appears to have fallen into decay by the 16th century. Excluded from the scheduling are the maintenance shed, all stiles, fences, modern stairs and associated posts, although the ground beneath all of these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 24326

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Allen, D, Odiham Castle Excavations 1984, (1985), 3-4
Colvin, H M, The History of the King's Works, (1963), 766-768
Williams-Freeman, JP, Introduction to field archaeology as illustrated by Hampshire, (1915), 68-69

End of official listing