Silchester Amphitheatre

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameSilchester Amphitheatre
Alternative NamesCastellum de Silva; Castle of the Wood
Historic CountryHampshire and the Isle of Wight
Modern AuthorityHampshire
1974 AuthorityHampshire
Civil ParishMortimer West End

Excavations between 1979 and 1985 confirmed that the Roman Amphitheatre was first constructed between 55 and 75 AD with a seating capacity of 3,600 to 3,700. It survived into the first half of C2, and some elements survived into the second stone phase. A second timber phase was dated to C2. it was replaced in stone in the early to mid C3.

There is no evidence for reuse of the amphitheatre until the late C11/early C12 when a single-aisled hall was constructed in the arena. Fulford argues that the hall may be regarded as the manor house of Silchester during this period. The amphitheatre appears to have been used as a ringwork, containing the hall and possibly one ancillary building with traces of one or more possible fighting platforms. From the early C15 until the 1970s the arena had been used as a farmyard for The Mount farmhouse, and had been metalled by C17 or early C18. (PastScape ref. Fulford)

Gatehouse Comments

Possible the Castellum de Silva reported to be taken by King Stephen in 1147 (but see Woodchester and Woodgarston). The original celtic placename of Calleva meant 'The Place in the Woods'. Is the Saxon place-name derived from a Latin/Saxon mix? i.e. Silva-ceastra. The amphitheatre would have represented a ready made defence for a manor house but it seems the site was too constricted and the manor house was rebuilt slightly to the south where it had a deer park, licenced in 1204 to Ralph Bluet, significant parts of the pale surviving. The form of Bluet's C13 manor house is unknown. It was, almost certainly, near the Norman church which lies within the walls of the Roman city but was probably not otherwise defended. The Roman city walls survive to impressive height even today but the circuit is far to large to have been defensible for the medieval village (which was also by the church - but has now moved 1km west) or manor. Indeed the Roman walls have been broken through in this area to allow village expansion along the roads, rather than extending the village into the area of the old Roman city.

- 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 ReferenceSU644626
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

No photos available. If you can provide pictures please contact Castlefacts

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • 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. 50
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford)
  • < >Fulford, Michael, 1989, The Silchester amphitheatre: excavations of 1979–85 (London: Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, Britannia monograph series 10) (esp. p 59–65, 175-6, 193–5) < >
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 195
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1911, VCH Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Vol. 4 p. 51- online transcription
  • Allcroft, A. Hadrian, 1908, Earthwork of England (London) p. 587 online copy


  • Hughes, Michael, 1989, 'Hampshire Castles and the Landscape 1066-1216' Landscape History Vol. 2 p. 27-60
  • Fulford, Michael, 1985, 'Excavations on the sites of the amphitheatre and forum-basilica at Silchester, Hampshire: an interim report' Antiquaries Journal Vol. 65 p 39–81 esp p. 72–7
  • Michael Fulford, 1982, 'Silchester' Current Archaeology Vol. 7.11 p. 326-31 esp p. 331
  • Youngs, S.M. and Clark, J., 1982, Medieval Archaeology p. 184
  • Selkirk, A., 1981, 'Round-up 1980: Silchester' Current Archaeology Vol. 7.4 p. 102-3
  • 1981, Country Life Vol. 170 p. 1374-5

Primary Sources

  • Potter, G.R. (ed), 1976, Gesta Stephani (Clarendon Press) p. 208