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Snodhill Castle

Snodhill Castle is a Marcher castle in the beautiful Golden Valley area of Herefordshire, about which relatively little is known from written historical sources. Historic England teams have carried out a programme of archaeological, architectural and aerial survey work to support the conservation of the site being carried out by dedicated volunteers from the Snodhill Castle Preservation Trust.

Snodhill Castle tower by moonlight
View of the tower at Snodhill Castle © Historic England, James O Davies, image reference DP195798

The site and its history

The motte and bailey castle lies on a prominent ridge in the parish of Peterchurch, towards the at the north-western end of the Golden Valley, Herefordshire. There is also a Medieval deer park and a moated site known as The Gobbets nearby.

The castle may have been built in the late 11th or 12th Centuries, with later phases of construction. In later Medieval times it was was owned by the Chandos family. It has been a ruin since the 16th century. There is very little clear documentary evidence about the building of the castle and its development; prior to the survey project there were big gaps in our understanding of its detailed layout.

In 1998, the Scheduled castle site was added to the Heritage at Risk register because nature had reclaimed it to such an extent that the remaining masonry was threatened.

Aerial view of Snodhill Castle
Snodhill Castle aerial view in February 2017, after scrub clearance and propping works © Snodhill Castle Preservation Trust and reproduced with kind permission

Snodhill Castle Preservation Trust

A group of enthusiasts and local people formed the Snodhill Castle Preservation Trust and took on its ownership. In 2016 volunteers began to clear away the undergrowth in advance of work to consolidate the remains of the castle, with financial support from Historic England.

To help them conserve the site and to shed light on missing details of its past, Historic England carried out a programme of research at the castle and its environs.

 

The survey project.

From the winter of 2016 into 2017, Historic England used a combined range of methods to investigate the castle and its surrounding area.

  • Archaeological survey built on a previous topographical survey and produced better plans of the castle and outlying features
  • A visual architectural survey systematically analysed the building remains
  • Aerial survey, including anlaysis of Lidar and aerial photographs covered 15 square kilometres around the castle, including the former deer park and much of the lands of the former manor of Snodhill. This provided an important overview of the castle in its landscape setting.

Some of the highlights of the survey findings are that we have:

  • Thrown some light on the vexed question of the location of the original entrance to the castle
  • Found a possible early stone hall
  • Re-interpreted the central structure of the castle as an impressive great tower with grand chambers
  • Discovered a previously unknown possible hunting lodge in the deer park.

Download the full survey results in the Snodhill Research Report.

 

Mark Bowden

Mark Bowden MCIfA FSA

Senior Investigator, Manager of Historic Places Investiagation Team West

Mark studied archaeology at Reading University and has worked for many years as an Investigator for Historic England and its predecessors.

Contact Mark Bowden MCIfA FSA

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