Reading Forbury Hill

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameReading Forbury Hill
Alternative Names
Historic CountryBerkshire
Modern AuthorityReading
1974 AuthorityBerkshire
Civil ParishReading

A motte had been built by King Stephen on Abbey land and was destroyed in 1153. It was evidently used as part of the town's Civil War defences. (King 1983)

Rex Stephanus firmavit castellum apud Radingum. (Matthew Paris)

Circular mound 2.0m high situated on a good position on a northern facing slope overlooking the River Thames. Its original purpose or date is not known, but it was incorporated into a garden design during the mid C19. Possibly a Civil War battery. (PastScape)

The reason for its being built is not clear. Possibly its site is represented by the enigmatic mound in the Forbury Gardens, which mound could well represent a decayed motte. This mound has been variously interpreted as a feature of the Danish camp of 870; the burial mound of Jarl Sidroc killed at the battle of Ashdown in 870; or part of the Civil War defences. An alternative site for this castle has been suggested near Blake's Bridge by the former East Gate of the abbey. (Slade 1969)

Gatehouse Comments

There was a possible an earlier castle at Castle Hill a mile away, although that may have been long out of use, and would not exclude this being the site of a temporary C12 castle. However, the Civil War use of the site means that without excavation establishing a date of origin is difficult.

- 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 ReferenceSU719736
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Calculate Print


  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of The Thames Valley and The Chilterns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 21
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 11
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 283
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker)
  • Slade, C.F., 1969, 'Reading' in Lobel, M.D. (ed), Historic Towns: Maps and Plans of Towns and Cities in the British Isles, with Historical Commentaries, from Earliest Times to 1800 Vol. 1 (London: Lovell Johns-Cook, Hammond and Kell Organization) online copy
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Page, Wm and Ditchfield, P.H. (eds), 1906, VCH Berkshire Vol. 1 p. 266
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 176 online copy


  • Spurrell, M., 1995, 'Containing Wallingford Castle, 1146-53' Oxoniensia Vol. 60 p. 257-70 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Howlett, R. (ed), 1889, 'The Chronicle of Robert of Torigni' in Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II, and Richard I (Rolls series 82) Vol. 4 p. 174 online copy
  • Luard, H.R. (ed), 1874, Matthæi Parisiensis: Monachi Santi Albani, Chronica Majora (Rolls Series 57) Vol. 2 p. 184 online copy


  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk South East Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 73 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 South East (London: English Heritage) p. 79 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 South East (London: English Heritage) p. 73 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 South East (London: English Heritage) p. 79 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 South East (London: English Heritage) p. 75 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 70 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 South East (London: English Heritage) p. 73 online copy