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

There are no visible remains

Alternative NamesCastle of the Wood; Castellum de Silva
Historic CountryGloucestershire
Modern AuthorityGloucestershire
1974 AuthorityGloucestershire
Civil ParishWoodchester

Woodchester has been suggested, on place-name grounds, as a possible location for the Castle of the Wood recorded as being stormed by King Stephen in 1147. King considered the location "would not be an unlikely site for an Angevin castle"

Dumque filius ejus, ad hostes retundendos, ex unam regni parte, promptissimè desudaret, pater, ex aliam, consuetam triumphalis militae ...... ciam frequentissimè reportabat. Castellum siquidem, quod dicebatur de Silvâ, ubi se totius pacis, et tranquilitatis inimici receperant, omnemque circumjacentem provinciam instantissimè infestârant, improvisè adveniens cum violentiâ cepit, suisque impositis latissimae provinciae dominatum conquisivit. (Gesta Stephani)

Gatehouse Comments

The location of Castellum de Silva is not identified and several possible sites have attracted speculative identification as this castle. The medieval manor house of this, always heavily wooded, parish was by the church (Norman ruins remain) at the northern extreme of the parish and on the site of a huge Roman Villa. Although there are some hints of a high status landscape, such as a record of a religious house founded by Gueta, wife of Earl Godwin, it would seem likely that the name Woodchester is a reference to the Roman building and not a medieval castle. However, even if the name originated from a Roman site this does not exclude it being the site of a medieval castle although there is no real evidence for a castle here. Gatehouse favours Silchester as this site. The Gesta Stephani author may, in fact, have meant the Roman walled town which, while not really defensible, would have made a good military field camp for an army but there was also a small castle there, made by fortifying the Roman amphitheatre. The original celtic placename of Calleva meant 'The Place in the Woods'. It may be possible the Saxon place-name derived from a Latin/Saxon mix? i.e. Silva-ceastra 'castle in the wood'.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSO839031
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  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 560
  • Herbert, N.M.,1976, VCH Gloucestershire Vol. 11 p. 294-5 (parish history only) online transcription
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 350


Primary Sources

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