The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Reading Forbury Hill

In the civil parish of Reading.
In the historic county of Berkshire.
Modern Authority of Reading.
1974 county of Berkshire.
Medieval County of Berkshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU71907363
Latitude 51.45717° Longitude -0.96649°

Reading Forbury Hill has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


A motte had been built by King Stephen on Abbey land and was destroyed in 1153. It was evidently used as part of the town's Civil War defences. (King 1983)

Rex Stephanus firmavit castellum apud Radingum. (Matthew Paris)

Circular mound 2.0m high situated on a good position on a northern facing slope overlooking the River Thames. Its original purpose or date is not known, but it was incorporated into a garden design during the mid C19. Possibly a Civil War battery. (PastScape)

The reason for its being built is not clear. Possibly its site is represented by the enigmatic mound in the Forbury Gardens, which mound could well represent a decayed motte. This mound has been variously interpreted as a feature of the Danish camp of 870; the burial mound of Jarl Sidroc killed at the battle of Ashdown in 870; or part of the Civil War defences. An alternative site for this castle has been suggested near Blake's Bridge by the former East Gate of the abbey. (Slade 1969)

There was a possible an earlier castle at Castle Hill a mile away, although that may have been long out of use, and would not exclude this being the site of a temporary C12 castle. However, the Civil War use of the site means that without excavation establishing a date of origin is difficult.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
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.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact