Alchester; The Castle

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Motte)

There are uncertain remains

NameAlchester; The Castle
Alternative NamesAuldchester
Historic CountryOxfordshire
Modern AuthorityOxfordshire
1974 AuthorityOxfordshire
Civil ParishWendlebury

Probable motte raised over a Roman bath (VCH ii 320; Marshall 1857-8). (King 1983)

Wendlebury: Alchester.—The most extensive Roman site at present traceable in this county is that of the station Alchester, situated in the parish of Wendlebury, one and a quarter miles south of Bicester, opposite the point where the road from that town to Oxford makes a sharp turn to the west. The road to this point is the Roman Way, which continued straight on through the centre of the station and can still be traced to Dorchester-on-Thames. The greater part of the site is, unfortunately, cultivated, but the course of the raised ways through it can still be traced by the low banks which vary in height above the ground from 15 ins. in some places to 3 ft. in others. In that part of the field where they have been destroyed, shown by the dotted lines on the plan, their course can still be laid down, as it is possible to note where they commenced by the breaks in the other banks, and the direction of the furrows has been changed to run parallel with them. At the south-east corner there is a mound 4 ft. 9 ins. high, and at the north-east corner there are the remains of another over which the hedge of the field has been carried. In the meadow to the west of the site, 80 yds. from it, is a roughly circular mound 200 ft. in diameter, and apparently rising from within a square base, called 'The Castle.' Excavations have shown that this covers the remains of a Roman building. We are only concerned here with the remains of the station falling under the classification of Earthworks, and it must be sufficient to state that Roman remains in the shape of foundations, coins, pottery, and other articles have been found all over the site, together with many human skeletons. (VCH 1907)

Gatehouse Comments

Nothing in the VCH tenurial history (VCH 1959) would suggest this as a manorial centre. The castle place-name is most probably a much latter corruption of the saxon 'chester' place-name applied to the Roman town, although the Oxfordshire's Historic Archives states the name 'castles' was applied only after the initial excavations of 1766. The mound is, presumably, a collapsed Roman building consolidated with blown in soil.

- 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 ReferenceSP569203
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  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of The Thames Valley and The Chilterns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 79 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 388 (possible)
  • Lobel, Mary D. (ed), 1959, VCH Oxfordshire Vol. 6 p. 338-346 (tenurial history only) online transcription
  • Salzman, L.F. (ed), 1939, VCH Oxfordshire Vol. 1 p. 283-4 online transcription
  • Potts, W., 1907, in Page, Wm (ed), 'Ancient Earthworks' VCH Oxfordshire Vol. 2 p. 320 online transcription
  • Jackson, Wm, 1766, Oxford Journal


  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 210 online copy
  • Marshall, J., 1857-8, 'Alchester' Transactions of the Archaeological Society of North Oxfordshire Vol. 5 p. 125-6