Park pale to the north, west and south west of Hursley Park


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019124

Date first listed: 25-Mar-1975

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Aug-2001


Ordnance survey map of Park pale to the north, west and south west of Hursley Park
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hampshire

District: Test Valley (District Authority)

Parish: Ampfield

County: Hampshire

District: Winchester (District Authority)

Parish: Hursley

National Grid Reference: SU 40887 25175, SU 41286 24066, SU 41788 25968, SU 41815 26283, SU 42150 24030, SU 42500 26123


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

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 to the north, west and south west of Hursley Park survives well despite some later disturbance and can be expected to retain archaeological remains relating to the monument's construction and subsequent use. The pale is well documented; its 12th century association with the Bishop of Winchester's palace at Merdon Castle provides a detailed insight into episcopal hunting practices at the time and demonstrates the early leadership of the Bishop in imparkment in Hampshire. The monument can also be expected to retain environmental evidence which, supplemented by extensive documentary evidence from the Bishopric pipe rolls, can be used to reconstruct the original landscape and the management practices associated with the use of the parks.


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


The monument, which falls into six areas of protection, includes six sections of a park pale which partly surrounds Merdon Inner Park and Out Park, a double enclosure deer park of medieval date situated immediately south of Merdon Castle, and to the north, west and south west of Hursley Park. Merdon Castle, situated about 1km to the north of Hursley Park, is the subject of a separate scheduling. The two enclosures share a common section of pale in Ampfield Wood, to the east of Little Fir Hill. The larger Inner Park extends from here to the north and east and forms a pear-shaped area of approximately 250ha. The Out Park extends to the west and forms a roughly rectangular area of approximately 100ha. The pale survives in sections up to 1.2km in length. It is of a similar form around both enclosures and includes a bank flanked by shallow ditches on both sides. In general, it is more substantial around the Inner Park, where the bank is up to 8m wide and 1.8m high, and the ditches reach 5m in width. The Out Park pale, which is known as Portland Bank along its southern section, is up to 6m wide and 1m high. For both enclosures, the inner ditch is more consistently present, while the outer ditch appears to be a discontinuous quarry feature associated with the construction of the bank. The monument has been disturbed in places by its subsequent use as a boundary bank. More recently it has been cut in numerous places by tracks, drains, roads, and other features associated with modern farming and forestry operations. Documentary evidence indicates that both enclosures are contemporary features and that the pale was constructed during the 12th century by the Bishop of Winchester, possibly Henry de Blois, after Merdon Castle was converted to a bishop's palace. It remained in use as a deer park boundary until at least the end of the 16th century. At that time the Out Park was reserved as `wood-pasture' while the Inner Park was compartmented into coppice, meadow, `laund' or grazing pasture, rabbit warren and fishponds. The fishponds survive, but are not included in the scheduling. Two additional sections of pale which extend between Hursley Park and Hursley village, to the east, are heavily disturbed in parts by modern boundary walls and private gardens and are therefore not included in the scheduling. The fences, gates, stiles and drains situated on the monument, and the surface of the tracks that cross the monument, are all excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 34132

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Crawford, O G S, Archaeology In The Field, (1953), 194-5
Hughes, M, 'Landscape Archaeology' in Hampshire castles, , Vol. 11, (1989), 36
Roberts, E, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in The Bishop of Winchester's deer parks in Hampshire, 1200-1400, , Vol. 44, (1988), 67-86

End of official listing