Deddington Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014749

Date first listed: 07-Mar-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 01-Aug-1996


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

County: Oxfordshire

District: Cherwell (District Authority)

Parish: Deddington

National Grid Reference: SP 47232 31553


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

Reasons for Designation

Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

The motte and bailey castle and the later enclosure castle at Deddington survive as extant earthworks on the edge of the village whose development it both promoted and then later affected. Each phase is a good example of its class, and part excavation has demonstrated that both phases contain archaeological and environmental remains relating to the monument, the landscape in which it was built and the economy of the inhabitants. The central part of the site is in the care of the Secretary of State and the bailey forms a public amenity used by the villagers.


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


The monument includes an 11th century motte and bailey castle, with a bailey on either side of the central motte, and a 12th century enclosure castle. The monument is situated immediately east of the present village of Deddington. It occupies an east-facing spur overlooking a shallow valley through which a spring fed stream flows from north to south. The central part of the site is in the care of the Secretary of State. The motte and its western bailey survive as an impressive group of earthworks, with the enclosure castle built into the north east corner. The latter remains visible as a series of low banks and hollows within an enclosing ditch. To the east, a second bailey, which encloses a number of platforms and extends down to the stream in the valley bottom, is visible as a cropmark on aerial photographs. The motte survives as a small stone and earthen mound, the eastern half of which was cut away during the construction of the stone enclosure castle. However, the western half survives to its original height of c.3m above the interior of the bailey and its summit is known from excavation and survey to have originally measured c.25m across. The main bailey extends to the west of the motte which lies in its east corner. It encloses a level area c.170m north-south and c.240m east- west. Its surrounding bank stands up to 2.5m above the interior and has a level rampart top c.2.5m wide. Its outer slope is enhanced by a broad ditch c.15m wide and up to 3m deep. This gives the outer face of the rampart a 5m deep drop from top of bank to base of ditch. Finds of late 11th century pottery and compacted earthen floor surfaces were found across the interior of the bailey during excavations carried out in the 1940s. The ditch and bank is interrupted in two places: an entrance to the west end which measures c.10m wide and a further 9m wide entrance in the north east corner. By the late 12th century, an enclosure castle of stone construction had been built into the eastern corner of the western bailey. This was roughly kite- shaped with square based towers on the wall line to the north and east, on the former motte, and a larger gatehouse tower to the west. Excavations have shown that in addition, the enclosure contained a series of timber and stone buildings including a hall, kitchens, solar, stables, a well, latrine pits and a chapel. These were added in several stages of construction works during the 1100s. All of these buildings had gone out of use by the 14th century and the stone from the ruins was subsequently taken to build other properties in the village. However, as part excavation revealed, the foundations, floor levels and lower courses of masonry survive buried below the present ground level. To the east a further bailey runs down the slope of the valley. This is roughly equal in area to the main bailey and the two lie end on with the early motte at the centre. Although this second bailey has been under cultivation, it can be seen on aerial photographs and its banks appear on Ordnance Survey maps drawn before the 1960s. At the east end the ditch has been used to form the line of a stream and two large depressions shown on the aerial photographs may be late medieval fishponds or quarries used in the building of the castle. Further platforms and earthworks within the bailey show the locations of building platforms and sub-divisions related to the castle's functions. Aerial photographs taken during World War II show two broad parallel hedge boundaries across the main bailey of the castle, forming a drive from the west entrance to the inner bailey. These late features were removed by the 1970s. It was suggested by the excavator that the early motte and bailey castle may have been built by Bishop Odo, the brother of William the Conqueror. It later became part of the lands of William de Chesney who is thought to be responsible for the building of the stone enclosure castle. By AD 1310 it was referred to as `a weak castle in which is a chamber' but it was used two years later to imprison Piers Gaveston until he was removed by the Earl of Warwick. In 1530 it was long abandoned but ruins remained above ground so that Leland could report `ther hath been a castle here'. Among the excavated remains, the finds included one of the earliest black rat skeletons found in Britain. Excluded from the scheduling are the post and wire boundary fences, gate posts and boundary walls forming the edge of the protected area and lying within it. Also excluded is the pavilion on the football pitch and the goal posts although the ground beneath these is included in the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 21807

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ivens, RJ, Deddington Castle Oxon and the English honour of Odo of Bayeux, (1984), 101-119
Entry 83, County List of Scheduled Monuments - Oxfordshire, (1994)
Frame 2163 16th January 1947, NMRC, CPE/UK/1929, (1947)
Frame 348 14th September 1970, NMRC, OS/70316, (1970)
Jope, E.M., Unpublished papers and notes, 1951, Various papers and plans
Jope, E.M., Unpublished plans and maps, 1951, Various papers and plans
Jope, E.M., Unpublished records and notes, 1951, Various papers
Jope, E.M., Unpublished records, 1951, Various papers
Marshall, E, Documentary History of Deddington Castle, Proceedings, (1879)
Marshall, E, Documentary History of Deddington Castle, Proceedings, (1879)
Marshall, E, Documentary History of Deddington Castle, Proceedings, (1879)
Note on seasons work, JOPE, E.M., EXCAVATIONS AT DEDDINGTON CASTLE, OXON, 1947, (1947)
PRN 2543, C.A.O., CASTLE, (1984)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series Source Date: 1960 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: SP 43 SE
XLIX, OHS, Eysham Cartulary 1, (1906)

End of official listing