Rochester siege castles

Has been described as a Possible Siege Work

There are no visible remains

NameRochester siege castles
Alternative Names
Historic CountryKent
Modern AuthorityMedway
1974 AuthorityKent
Civil ParishRochester

Two castles built 1088, one of which mayu have been Boley Hill south of the castle. Strategically one may expect that the other to have been positioned to controlled the road and river crossing north of Rochester castle

It was probably William the Conqueror who gave the city and its castle to Bishop Odo of Bayeux, the king's half brother. On William's death in September 1087 his territories were divided between his two sons. Robert, the elder, inherited the title of Duke of Normandy and William Rufus became King of England. A significant number of Norman barons objected to dividing Normandy and England, and Bishop Odo supported Robert's claim to the English throne. Several others, including the earls of Northumberland and Shrewsbury and the Bishop of Coutances came out in support of Robert. Odo prepared Rochester Castle for war and it became one of the headquarters of the rebellion. Its position in Kent made it a suitable base for raids on London and its garrison could harry William's forces in the county. William set off from London and marched towards Rochester to deal with the threat. Before he arrived, news reached the king that Odo had gone to Pevensey Castle, which was under the control of Robert, Count of Mortain. William turned away from Rochester and seized Pevensey. The captured Odo was forced to swear to hand over Rochester to William's men. The king despatched a force with Odo in tow to demand Rochester's surrender. Instead of yielding, the garrison sallied and captured the entire party. In response William laid siege to the city and castle. Contemporary chronicler Orderic Vitalis recorded that the siege began in May 1088. Two siege-castles were built to cut off the city's supply lines and to protect the besiegers from sorties

Conditions within the city were dire: disease was rampant, exacerbated by the heat and flies. The garrison ultimately capitulated and terms were agreed. Odo, Eustace, Count of Boulogne, and Robert de Belleme, son of the Earl of Shrewsbury, were allowed to march away with their weapons and horses but their estates in England were confiscated. This marked the end of the castle's role in the rebellion, and the fortification was probably abandoned shortly afterwards (Brown). The siege-castles were abandoned after the conclusion of the siege and have since vanished (Creighton). (Wikipedia entry 4-2-2012)

Gatehouse Comments

Given map reference is for Rochester castle.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ741685
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  • Rogers, C., 2010, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Medieval Warfare and Military Technology (OUP) Vol. 1 p. 182 online copy
  • Creighton, O., 2002, Castles and Landscapes: Power, Community and Fortification in Medieval England (Equinox) p. 56
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 237
  • Brown, R.A.B., 1969, Rochester Castle (HMSO) p. 6-8

Primary Sources

  • Chibnall, M. (ed), 1973, The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis (Oxford: Clarendon Press) Vol. 4 p. 126-35
  • Ingram, James, (ed) 1912, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Everyman Press, London) 1088-91 view online transcription (Ingram's translation and notes date from 1823. More recent translations of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles should be consulted for serious study)


  • Kent County Council, December 2004, Kent Historic Towns Survey (Kent County Council and English Heritage) view online copy