Ascott d'Oilly Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameAscott d'Oilly Castle
Alternative NamesAscot Doilly; Ascot d'Oilly; Ascott d'Oyley
Historic CountryOxfordshire
Modern AuthorityOxfordshire
1974 AuthorityOxfordshire
Civil ParishAscott under Wychwood

The motte and bailey castle at Ascott d'Oyley is unusual in being one of a pair of similar monuments to occur in close proximity, a factor which contributed to the subsequent development of the surrounding settlement. The monument survives well as a good example of its class with evidence for its effect on the development of the medieval village, part of which is included within the monument, and the later reuse of the outer bailey as an area of formal gardens associated with The Manor House. Partial excavation of the site has provided support for its documented history as well as demonstrating the survival of archaeological remains relating to the monument, the landscape in which it was built and the economy of its inhabitants.

The monument includes the 12th century Ascott d'Oyley motte and bailey castle, its stone keep, the associated early bailey earthworks, later pond features and associated walkways and part of the shrunken medieval village situated around The Manor House, immediately south of the River Evenlode. The motte survives as a small earthen and clay mound measuring 32m across and standing up to 3m high. It has a 20m diameter flat summit on which can be seen the open remains of a central tower, partly excavated in 1946, and consisting of a 5m square room enclosed by walls between 2.5m and 3.5m thick. The exposed inside walls of this tower are 0.8m high and of dry stone construction. The excavations showed that the tower stands on the old ground level and that the mound is built against it rather than the more usual method of building a tower on the top of an artificial mound. A quantity of medieval pottery and two arrowheads were also found in the tower. From documentary sources, which support the excavated evidence, it is known that the castle was built between 1129 and 1150 and that the tower was deliberately demolished in c.1175. To the south east of the motte stands an interrupted platform bounded by a broad outer ditch

This has been interpreted as the remains of the original bailey. The platform stands 1m high and is cut by a 3m wide ditch which runs south from the mound. The main platform is a roughly square area measuring 28m from east to west and 32m from north to south. A spur to the north measures 35m in length and varies in width from 2.5m to 6m. To the north and west of the motte is a series of earthworks contained within an outer bank and ditch which enclose an area c.200m from south west to north east and c.150m from north west to south east. This area represents the main bailey. The inner bank of this bailey measures up to 10.6m across and stands up to 0.7m high. The surrounding ditch measures up to 10m across and, although partially infilled, is visible as a 0.3m deep feature. Beyond this is a counterscarp bank which measures up to 5m across and stands up to 0.3m high. Two ditches run from the north western and north eastern corners of the bailey to the River Evenlode, forming an enclosed meadow along a 212m length of the river bank. To the west of this bailey is a series of low earthworks which represent the house platforms of a medieval settlement outside the castle. These extend up to a well established hedge line which marks a change in the ground level beyond which the land is 0.2m lower. These earthworks represent part of the village which was divided between two manors in the medieval period with the other manor of Ascott Earl also possessing a motte and bailey castle, only c.600m to the south west. The bailey earthworks were altered at a later date to provide garden earthworks for the manor. These include 6m wide banks which provide raised walkways and a number of pond bays connected by a series of open ditches. Such water garden earthworks are often associated with later medieval and early post-medieval manors and houses. The area of the bailey immediately west of the motte has been built over by the farmyard of the later manor and includes a number of listed buildings including: The Manor House (Grade II-star), a doorway in the wall to the south east of The Manor House (Grade II), the granary to the west of The Manor House (Grade II) and a fragment of the castle to the north of The Manor House (Grade II). (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Although described as a motte and bailey this was, from the start, a stone tower, built on the natural ground level, with a clay mound built around the base of the tower. It is notable for being in the same village, although if a different manor as Ascott Earl castle.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSP301190
Latitude51.8693618774414
Longitude-1.56222999095917
Eastings430160
Northings219040
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photo by Gunter Endres All Rights Reserved
Photo by Gunter Endres All Rights Reserved
Photo by Gunter Endres All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Creighton, O.H., 2005, Castles and Landscapes: Power, Community and Fortification in Medieval England (London: Equinox) p. 58
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of The Thames Valley and The Chilterns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 62
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 206 (slight)
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 187
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 384
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 180
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 91, 94
  • Potts, W., 1907, in Page, Wm (ed), 'Ancient Earthworks' VCH Oxfordshire Vol. 2 p. 321-2 online transcription

Journals

  • < >Bond J., 2001, 'Earthen Castles, Outer Enclosures and the Earthworks at Ascott d'Oilly Castle, Oxfordshire' Oxoniensia Vol. 66 p. 43-69 online copy < >
  • Thompson, M.W., 1961, 'Motte Sunstructures' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 5 p. 305-6 online copy
  • Jope, E.M. and Threlfall, R., 1959, 'The twelfth-century castle at Ascot Doilly, Oxfordshire: its history and excavation' Antiquaries Journal Vol. 39 p. 219-270
  • Renn, D.F., 1959, 'Mottes: a classification' Antiquity Vol. 33 p. 106-12
  • 1958, 'Medieval Britain in 1957' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 2 p. 195 online copy
  • Jope, E.M., 1946-7, 'Recent Mediaeval finds in the Oxford District' Oxoniensia Vol. 11-12 p. 165-7 online copy