Place Wood Motte, Southwick and Widley

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NamePlace Wood Motte, Southwick and Widley
Alternative Names
Historic CountryHampshire and the Isle of Wight
Modern AuthorityHampshire (City of Winchester)
1974 AuthorityHampshire
Civil ParishSouthwick and Widley

The ringwork and bailey in Place Wood, 680m WSW of Wanstead Farm, survives well despite some later disturbance by its use as a park keeper's lodge and ha ha, and can be expected to retain important archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the original construction of the monument and its later use. It has previously been described by JP Williams-Freeman as a 'perfect ... specimen of its kind' and forms part of a group of three or four well-preserved mottes and ringworks associated with the royal forest of Bere during the 11th and 12th centuries.

The monument includes a ringwork and bailey of probable 11th or 12th century date, situated on a slight, south west facing spur within Place Wood, near Southwick. The ringwork includes a roughly circular earthwork platform, 22m in diameter and approximately 0.8m high, fully enclosed by a defensive bank and outer ditch, each 6m to 8m wide. The larger bailey abuts it to the east and is also enclosed by a bank and outer ditch which project from the ringwork defences. Originally stirrup shaped, the bailey has been cut by a modern ha ha and park boundary ditch, and now survives as a straight sided pentagonal platform, approximately 55m by 65m in diameter and raised a similar height to the ringwork. The defences are relatively uniform around the perimeter of both enclosures, although the bank stands slightly higher around the ringwork, up to 1.5m above the interior and 3m above the base of the ditch. There is no apparent trace of any original internal features within either part of the monument, or of an entrance or gateway, although a later trackway enters the ringwork from the east and crosses onto the bailey over a low causeway where an original bridge would normally be expected

This trackway may be associated with a modern park keeper's lodge which is now demolished but formerly stood at the western end of the monument, partly overlying the bailey defences and resulting in their partial destruction. The octagonal brick foundations of the lodge survive along with a number of associated structural and garden features, including a brick well. The area of bailey defences beyond the ha ha and boundary ditch to the south has been destroyed by the modern construction of a military rifle range and is not included in the scheduling. This area is also the location of an earlier Roman mansio, the north eastern bank of which formerly intersected with the bailey but is now also destroyed. The construction of the monument has not been accurately dated, but its form is typical of post-Conquest ringworks and motte and bailey castles of the 11th and 12th centuries, and closely resembles the nearby ringwork and bailey at Motley's Copse, which is thought to relate to Henry I's attempt to expel the Earl of Arundel in 1101. At that time, Place Wood may have fallen within the boundaries of the manor of Belney in Portsdown Hundred which was held by the Mauduits, who also controlled Portchester Castle and the southern fringes of the royal forest of Bere until the mid-12th century. (Scheduling Report)

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 ReferenceSU635091
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  • Osborne, Mike, 2011, Defending Hampshire: The Military Landscape from Prehistory to the Present (Stroud: The History Press) p. 243 (listed in Appendix)
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Wessex (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 54
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 193
  • Williams-Freeman, J.P.,1915, An Introduction to Field Archaeology as Illustrated by Hampshire (London) p. 268, 410
  • Doubleday, H. Arthur (ed), 1900, VCH Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Vol. 1 p. 347


  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127