Ellisfield Castle

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Other/Unknown)

There are earthwork remains

NameEllisfield Castle
Alternative NamesEllisfield Camp
Historic CountryHampshire and the Isle of Wight
Modern AuthorityHampshire
1974 AuthorityHampshire
Civil ParishEllisfield

An oblong earthwork of about four acres. Its corners are rounded, the N. & E. sides are fairly straight but the others, pinched in the centre, give the corners, especially the S.E., a sort of bastion shape. It consists of a single bank and outer ditch, C.D. vert. 9-10'; the bank rises 4 or 5' above the area and is higher at the corners. The entrances are in the middle of the south side and in the western half of the north side; breaks in the northern end of each side, with a footpath going through, look quite recent.

The date and purpose of this earthwork is unknown. The O.S. marks "Site of Castle" in the N.E. corner on traditional authority. At that point, for 30 yds. along the N. end of the E. side, there are numerous large flints along the top of the vallum; they are firmly embedded (though without mortar) and seem too large and too uniform in size to be merely the result of field clearance. If it is a motte and bailey, on the same plan as Pinsley why is there no trace whatever of an entrenchment around the 'site of Castle' in the corner. Other local traditions suggest that it was occupied by the Romans, built by Ella, and built by the Danes in 870, after their defeat at Reading.

It is situated on a flat clay plateau about the general level (600-700') of the high ground of the district. The ground begins to slope gently down to the valley about 50 yds E. of the camp. In its natural state the district would be covered with thick woodland. The rampart is overgrown and the area enclosed is now under the plough (Williams-Freeman).

The description of this earthwork by Williams-Freeman is correct except that the causeway through the northern side does not seem to be original. It is in good condition; the ramparts are overgrown and the interior is under pasture.

The earthwork is obviously a defensive one, the profile being very like that of an I.A.'A' hill-fort. Its plan, however, makes it extremely unlikely that it is either IA. or a Ro

military earthwork. The bastion-like appearance of the corners, more obvious on the plan than on the ground, might suggest a Civil War earthwork. The field names Whitbury, Great and Little Whitbury as applied to nearby fields by O.G.S. Crawford on Basingstoke Museum 6" map suggest that the earthwork existed in Saxon times. The only authority given for the field names on this map is an 18th cent. map of Cliddesden which was not traced (F1 VJB 22-JAN-57). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Enigmatic earthwork. Isolated from settlement. At 8km from Basing House might be a back support camp for the Civil War besieging forces. Requires more investigation but most unlikely as a medieval castle.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSU629453
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  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 196 (possible)
  • Williams-Freeman, J.P.,1915, An Introduction to Field Archaeology as Illustrated by Hampshire (London) p. 301-2, 372


  • Shore, T.W., 1895-9, Proceeding of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society Vol. 1 p.24