Park Pale in Hamstead Marshall Park


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Berkshire (Unitary Authority)
West Berkshire (Unitary Authority)
Hampstead Marshall
National Grid Reference:
SU 41960 66334, SU 42013 65863, SU 42166 66626, SU 42187 65597, SU 42349 66815, SU 42474 65359, SU 42482 66882, SU 42577 65575, SU 42963 66400

Reasons for Designation

Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house, castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features, including hunting lodges (often moated), a park-keeper's house, rabbit warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch. Although a small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying-out of parks, between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity amongst the nobility. From the 15th century onwards few parks were constructed and by the end of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had largely disappeared. The original number of deer parks nationally is unknown but probably exceeded 3000. Many of these survive today, although often altered to a greater or lesser degree. They were established in virtually every county in England, but are most numerous in the West Midlands and Home Counties. Deer parks were a long-lived and widespread monument type. Today they serve to illustrate an important aspect of the activities of medieval nobility and still exert a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern landscape. Where a deer park survives well and is well-documented or associated with other significant remains, its principal features are normally identified as nationally important.

The park pale at Hamstead Marshall survives well and has detailed historical documentation. It can be clearly related to other medieval monuments which survive in the vicinity of Hamstead Marshall. The two motte and bailey castles, the possible manor house site, fishponds and village remains represent a medieval complex of a type which allows a valuable and very complete insight into the social, economic and administrative organisation within the medieval period.


The monument, which consists of nine separate areas, includes earthwork remains of the park pale of a once extensive deer park, the area of land enclosed by the pale being some 101ha in extent. The pale can be traced on the ground around the west, south and east sides of the park, where it survives as a series of disjointed portions of linear bank up to 0.8m high and 7m wide with an external ditch 0.6m deep and 2.5m wide. Around the north side of the park there is no pale, the boundary probably following the line of a natural terrace along the south side of the River Kennet. The deer park at Hamstead Marshall was first described in 1229, the King granting William Marshall 20 does from Clarendon Forest from which to establish a herd. Though a temporary disparkment occured in 1233, when Richard Marshall rebelled against the Crown, it was restored in 1234 by Gilbert Marshall, to whom the King awarded 20 does and 5 bucks from Chippenham with which to restock the park. The Hundred Rolls for 1275-6 record that the park again fell into disuse following the death of the owner, the Earl of Norfolk. It was held by the Earl of Salisbury in 1333, who was responsible for increasing its area by taking in further cultivated land. Finally around 1341 the Crown obtained control of the manor and park, holding it for much of the Later Middle ages and adding, within its confines, a stud farm in 1347. The deer park functioned until 1574, with deer recorded as being wild in the area of the park well into the 20th century.

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:
Legacy System:


NAR: Ref SU 46 NW 15,
Peake, H J E and Cheetham, F H, (1924)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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