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Gains Castle, Ashley

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Church Close; Ashley Gains; Ashley Castle; Esleg'sive

In the civil parish of Ashley.
In the historic county of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Modern Authority of Hampshire.
1974 county of Hampshire.
Medieval County of Hampshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU384308
Latitude 51.07546° Longitude -1.45178°

Gains Castle, Ashley has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a probable Masonry Castle.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Gains Castle is well preserved, the substantial earthwork defences of the ringwork enclosing an area within which structural remains survive. The presence of the earthworks representing the bailey provides definition for the site as a whole and emphasises its relationship with the contemporary Church of St Mary.
The monument includes a ringwork and bailey, with evidence for earlier occupation, situated on a spur of high ground overlooking the village of Ashley and alongside the old road from Winchester to Salisbury. The bank and external ditch of the ringwork enclose a pentagonal area of approximately 0.55ha. The bank varies in size from approximately 6m wide and 1.5m high on the west side of the enclosure to over 13m wide and 3m high on the east. The ditch, which has been infilled on the west side by the construction of a road, also varies in size, from 5m wide and 1.5m deep on the north and south sides to over 8m wide and 2m deep on the east. In the north east corner of the bailey are the substantial flint footings of walls. These may represent the remains of a hall referred to in a documentary record of 1250, and recorded by Williams Freeman in 1913 as being 33m long with an internal round tower 13m in diameter on the north side. The outer bailey lies to the west of the ringwork and is defined by much slighter earthworks. Where traceable within pasture, these include a low bank, approximately 5m wide and no more than 0.5m high with an outer ditch of similar width and approximately 0.3m deep. Additional parts of the outer bailey circuit can be traced as a low bank to the east of the church and a shallow ditch in woodland to the south of the ringwork. The Church of St Mary the Virgin lies within the outer bailey to the north of the ringwork. The church dates to the 12th century and archaeological excavation carried out at the time of its restoration suggested that it was preceded by domestic occupation which must therefore predate the construction of the ringwork castle. In addition to references to the hall, historical documentation records that in 1200 William Briwere, the holder of the Manor of Ashley, was given a licence to fortify, or re-fortify his castle. (Scheduling Report)

Probably William Briwere's castle of 1200 AD (he had licence in that year to fortify a castle at either Ashley or Stockbridge, and there is no evidence or tradition of one at the latter). The work is typically Norman in the small size of the occupied area and the strength of its ramparts, and in having a bailey; its north-east part contains visible remains of foundations and pieces of masonry can be picked up there (Williams-Freeman).
A ring-work, castle and bailey with the foundations of a stone keep and domestic buildings still visible. The stone castle appears to have been inserted and William Briwere's licence could imply resurrection of an obsolete work. The church in the bailey is 12th c. (VCH 4, 441) and this suggests a possible sequence of Thegn's burh, early Norman earthwork castle and later Norman stonework castle. (see Current Archaeology 5, 1967, 'The origins of the Castle') (F2 CFW 26-NOV-68). (PastScape)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1200 June 6 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:08

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