Hampshire Museums Service

Archaeology

Odiham Castle excavations 1216-1300

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The construction of the great octagonal keep, or tower, resulted in the destruction of most of the early buildings, in this locality at least.

One particular agent of their demise was the new, circular moat, which immediately surrounded the tower (right).

Subtle colours - Octagonal keep with traces of a well-defined arrow slit and the pronounced ledge for the malmstone blocks of the castle wall outer skin; the foreground consists of the old ground surface with part of a latrine or toilet pit (whitish triangle) cut into it. This in turn is cut by the moat surrounding the keep (grey - immediate foreground).  

Beyond this 'inner moat', spoil from its excavation and debris from the construction of the tower were used to build up and level out the inner ward, or compound. On this gently undulating surface a rich occupation soil accumulated.

As well as numerous bits of pottery and animal bones, several rough hearths were found in this area.

The keep was constructed on a massive foundation of mortared flint, material which also formed the wall core. This was then faced with large malmstone ashlar blocks. Most of these were robbed in antiquity, but several courses survive in situ below ground level.

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At the centre of the structure were the much disturbed traces of a massive posthole. Just to the east was a well-preserved sump, sunk into the gravel subsoil, and lined in both timber and stone (right). This had a timber and stone surround.

The timbers provided a dendrochronology (tree ring) date of 1232; the stones included some architectural fragments which could have come from the 'king's house'.