Deddington Castle

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

There are earthwork remains

NameDeddington Castle
Alternative NamesDedington; castrum de Dadenton'; Dadintune
Historic CountryOxfordshire
Modern AuthorityOxfordshire
1974 AuthorityOxfordshire
Civil ParishDeddington

C11 motte and bailey castle, with a bailey to the West of the motte, and a ditched enclosure to the east which contained 4 fishponds. The motte and its western bailey survive as earthworks whilst the eastern enclosure is visible as a cropmark. The earliest reference to the castle is 1204 when it was in royal hands. However, excavations have shown that it was built on a Saxon site, fragmentary buildings and associated artefacts, being present. In its initial phase, the castle consisted of a motte and large bailey. At this time, or shortly after, an L-shaped hall was constructed, and it is thought that this was built by Bishop Odo of Bayeux. While this was in use, an inner bailey was created. By circa 1200, a substantial curtain wall had been built with gatehouse into the outer bailey, the motte had been levelled, and a range of domestic buildings, including C12 & C13 chapels, created. It was refurbished from the mid C12 until the early decades of C13, and then suffered a long decline. (PastScape)

The motte and bailey castle and the later enclosure castle at Deddington survive as extant earthworks on the edge of the village whose development it both promoted and then later affected. Each phase is a good example of its class, and part excavation has demonstrated that both phases contain archaeological and environmental remains relating to the monument, the landscape in which it was built and the economy of the inhabitants. The central part of the site is in the care of the Secretary of State and the bailey forms a public amenity used by the villagers.

The monument includes an 11th century motte and bailey castle, with a bailey on either side of the central motte, and a 12th century enclosure castle. The monument is situated immediately east of the present village of Deddington. It occupies an east-facing spur overlooking a shallow valley through which a spring fed stream flows from north to south

The central part of the site is in the care of the Secretary of State. The motte and its western bailey survive as an impressive group of earthworks, with the enclosure castle built into the north east corner. The latter remains visible as a series of low banks and hollows within an enclosing ditch. To the east, a second bailey, which encloses a number of platforms and extends down to the stream in the valley bottom, is visible as a cropmark on aerial photographs. The motte survives as a small stone and earthen mound, the eastern half of which was cut away during the construction of the stone enclosure castle. However, the western half survives to its original height of c.3m above the interior of the bailey and its summit is known from excavation and survey to have originally measured c.25m across. The main bailey extends to the west of the motte which lies in its east corner. It encloses a level area c.170m north-south and c.240m east- west. Its surrounding bank stands up to 2.5m above the interior and has a level rampart top c.2.5m wide. Its outer slope is enhanced by a broad ditch c.15m wide and up to 3m deep. This gives the outer face of the rampart a 5m deep drop from top of bank to base of ditch. Finds of late 11th century pottery and compacted earthen floor surfaces were found across the interior of the bailey during excavations carried out in the 1940s. The ditch and bank is interrupted in two places: an entrance to the west end which measures c.10m wide and a further 9m wide entrance in the north east corner. By the late 12th century, an enclosure castle of stone construction had been built into the eastern corner of the western bailey. This was roughly kite- shaped with square based towers on the wall line to the north and east, on the former motte, and a larger gatehouse tower to the west. Excavations have shown that in addition, the enclosure contained a series of timber and stone buildings including a hall, kitchens, solar, stables, a well, latrine pits and a chapel. These were added in several stages of construction works during the 1100s. All of these buildings had gone out of use by the 14th century and the stone from the ruins was subsequently taken to build other properties in the village. However, as part excavation revealed, the foundations, floor levels and lower courses of masonry survive buried below the present ground level. To the east a further bailey runs down the slope of the valley. This is roughly equal in area to the main bailey and the two lie end on with the early motte at the centre. Although this second bailey has been under cultivation, it can be seen on aerial photographs and its banks appear on Ordnance Survey maps drawn before the 1960s. At the east end the ditch has been used to form the line of a stream and two large depressions shown on the aerial photographs may be late medieval fishponds or quarries used in the building of the castle. Further platforms and earthworks within the bailey show the locations of building platforms and sub-divisions related to the castle's functions. Aerial photographs taken during World War II show two broad parallel hedge boundaries across the main bailey of the castle, forming a drive from the west entrance to the inner bailey. These late features were removed by the 1970s. It was suggested by the excavator that the early motte and bailey castle may have been built by Bishop Odo, the brother of William the Conqueror. It later became part of the lands of William de Chesney who is thought to be responsible for the building of the stone enclosure castle. By AD 1310 it was referred to as 'a weak castle in which is a chamber' but it was used two years later to imprison Piers Gaveston until he was removed by the Earl of Warwick. In 1530 it was long abandoned but ruins remained above ground so that Leland could report 'ther hath been a castle here'. Among the excavated remains, the finds included one of the earliest black rat skeletons found in Britain. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The Saxon site was embanked i.e fortified.

- 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 ReferenceSP470314
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photo by Therron Welstead. All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Photo by Therron Welstead. All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Photo by Therron Welstead. All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Photo by Therron Welstead. All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Elliot, Julia (ed), 2005, Heritage Unlocked; Guide to free sites in London and the South East (London: English Heritage) p. 98-9
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of The Thames Valley and The Chilterns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 69
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 204
  • Coulson, Charles, 1994, 'The Castles of the Anarchy' in King, Edmund (ed.), The Anarchy of King Stephen's Reign (Oxford University Press) p. 85-6
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 385
  • Crossley, Alan (ed), 1983, VCH Oxfordshire Vol. 11 p. 90-91 online transcription
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 219
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 162-3
  • Colvin, H.M., 1963, History of Deddington (S.P.C.K.) p. 12-14 and elsewhere
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 28
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Potts, W., 1907, in Page, Wm (ed), 'Ancient Earthworks' VCH Oxfordshire Vol. 2 p. 324-5 online transcription
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 154-5 online copy


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 332
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1908, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 2 p. 38 online copy


  • < >Ivens, R.J., 1984, 'Deddington Castle, Oxfordshire, and the English honour of Bayeux' Oxoniensia Vol. 49 p. 101–19 < > online copy [online copy >]
  • Ivens, R.J., 1983, 'Deddington Castle, Oxfordshire. A summary of excavations 1977–1979' South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 13 p. 34–41 online copy
  • 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)
  • Hurst, J.G., 1957, 'Saxon-Norman Pottery in East Anglia' Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society Vol. 51 p. 52 online copy
  • Jope, E.M. and Threlfall, R.I., 1946-7, 'Recent Mediaeval finds in the Oxford District' Oxoniensia Vol. 11-12 p. 167-8 online copy
  • Marshall, 1879, North Oxfordshire Archaeological Society Vol. 14 p. 17-18

Primary Sources

  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1833, Rotuli litterarum clausarum in turri Londinensi asservati (Record Commission) Vol. 1 p. 7 online copy
  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1835, Rotuli Litterarum Patentium in Turri Londinensi Asservati (1201-16) (Record Commission) p. 50b view online copy
  • Stubbs, W. (ed), 1880, The Minor Works comprising the Gesta regum with its continuation, the Actus pontificum, and the Mappa mundi, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls series 73) Vol. 2 p. 433 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 384