Faringdon Castle

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

There are earthwork remains

NameFaringdon Castle
Alternative NamesFaringdon Clump; Cromwells Battery; Farringdon; Folly Hill; Ferenduna; Farundunensis; Ferendunam
Historic CountryBerkshire
Modern AuthorityOxfordshire
1974 AuthorityOxfordshire
Civil ParishGreat Faringdon

The site of a castle of circa 1144 or C13 in date. Excavations by E T Leeds revealed that the site consisted of a single rampart and two ditches surrounding a central keep. Pottery of C13 to C14 date was found which may indicate the validity of the later date for the castle. (PastScape)

Faringdon seems to have been a royal residence before the Conquest, as it is recorded that Edward the Elder died here in 924. Whether a royal household was maintained here after the Conquest is uncertain, but in or about 1144 Robert Earl of Gloucester and other adherents of the Empress Maud constructed a castle at Faringdon, which was stormed and taken by Stephen in 1145. This castle, which was doubtless only an earthwork with timber defences, was probably destroyed shortly afterwards, but the fact that in 1179 Faringdon was in the charge of William the Porter suggests that possibly part of the castle or some other royal residence then survived. In 1202, however, King John granted the site of the castle to St. Mary of Citeaux, to found there a Cistercian abbey, and in the following year he provided timber for the buildings. The monks entered into possession, but probably found the position unsuitable, and in 1203 they were moved to Beaulieu. After this date no further reference to the castle is found. Some 8 acres of land called the Bailey in the 16th century, which lay next to the Parsonage Close, seem to indicate the position of the site as at Faringdon Clump, on a hill that commands both the Oxford and Wantage roads. (VCH)

Gatehouse Comments

Brown writes this was a royal castle almost certainly abandoned by 1216 and the history from the VCH clearly informed and supported this view. The C13 pottery finds may be incidental and misleading and may represent a low status reuse of the castle site. A Cromwellian battery and Lord Berners Folly, a tower of 1935, are on the site.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSU297956
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • < >Duncan Wright, Steven Trick and Oliver Creighton, 2016, 'Folly Hill, Faringdon, Oxfordshire' in Duncan Wright and Oliver Creighton (eds), Castles, Siegeworks and Settlements Surveying the Archaeology of the Twelfth Century (Oxford: Archaeopress Publishing Ltd) p. 57-70 < >
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 273
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of The Thames Valley and The Chilterns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 70
  • Coulson, Charles, 1994, 'The Castles of the Anarchy' in King, Edmund (ed.), The Anarchy of King Stephen's Reign (Oxford University Press) p. 71
  • 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. 230
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 189
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 29
  • Page, Wm and Ditchfield, P.H., 1924, VCH Berkshire Vol. 4 p. 489 online transcription
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 174-5 online copy


  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 33
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 125 online copy


  • Speight, Sarah, 2000, 'Castle Warfare in the Gesta Stehani' _Château Gaillard_ l. 19 p. 269-274
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Passmore, A.D., 1954, Oxoniensia Vol. 19 p. 117 plate VIIB online copy
  • Jope, E.M., 1947, 'Medieval Pottery in Berkshire' Berkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 50 p. 70 download copy
  • Bruce-Mitford, R.L.S., 1939, 'The Archaeology of the Site of the Bodleian Extension in Broad Street, Oxford' Oxoniensia Vol. 4 p. 140-4 online copy
  • Leeds, E.T., 1937, 'An Adulterine Castle on Faringdon Clump, Berkshire. Second report' Antiquaries Journal Vol. 17 p. 294-8
  • Leeds, E.T., 1936, 'An Adulterine Castle on Faringdon Clump, Berkshire' Antiquaries Journal Vol. 16 p. 165-78

Primary Sources

  • Madden, F. (ed), 1866, Matthæi Parisiensis, monachi Sancti Albani: Historia Anglorum (Rolls Series 44) Vol. 1 p. 275 online copy
  • Luard, H.R (ed), 1865, 'Annales de Waverleia' in Annales Monastici (Rolls Series 36) Vol. 2 p. 230-1 online copy
  • Howlett, R. (ed), 1886, Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II, and Richard I (Rolls series 82) Vol. 3 p. 115-16 online copy
  • Sewell, R.C. (ed), 1846, Gesta Stephani, Regis Anglorum et Ducis Normannorum p. 113-14 online copy (The newer edition and translation by Potter, K.R. (ed), 1976 (2edn), Gesta Stephani (Oxford University Press) should be consulted for serious study. See also Speight, S., 2000, 'Castle Warfare in the Gesta Stephani' , Château Gaillard Vol. 19 [see online transcription > http://web.archive.org/web/20101229213751/http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/articles/speight.htm])