Oxfordshire Branch



Deddington Castle


Making our Plan... The Sections... The History of the Castle... The Dig... Visiting the Castle...

People Involved... Useful Links...


We went to Deddington Castle on the 29th of September 2001. There were two groups - one went in the morning and the other in the afternoon. It was raining hard for the first group but the sun came out for the other group. We aimed to measure the castle so we could do this guide. We got quite muddy when we were measuring around the ditches and near the end we took some photos. Some of the photos are down below.

The team set up base camp on the outer bailey

Making Our Plan

We split up into groups then walked round the ditches and banks measuring our route with a compass to find the direction we were going and our paces to find how far we had gone. Some groups used a special measurer which was a wheel that went round once every metre, another group had a long tape measure. In the afternoon some more groups climbed up and down the banks to measure how high and wide they were. Back at the museum we started to draw the outline of the castle. After a lot of work we ended up with our plan.

Using a trundle wheel to measure distances

Run the pointer over our plan to see where we measured the banks and where they may have been stone buildings



Here are the sections we drew. It was very hard work scrambling up and down the steep banks. These are the finished drawings, the bicycles are to scale and show just how enormous the earthworks are.

The History of the Castle

When was it built and who built it?

The castle was built shortly after the Norman Conquest (1066) for Odo of Bayeaux, the half brother of William the Conqueror. It was the centre of his large estate. During the 12th century, at the time of the civil war, the castle was strengthened by William de Chesney. In the 13th century the descendants of the Chesneys styled themselves ‘Lords of Deddington Castle’.

What did it look like then?

At the beginning ,the castle was made mostly of earth and wood. By the mid 12th century it had been rebuilt in stone to include walls, towers, a solar wing, hall and kitchens.

What happened to the stone castle?

In the 13th century the castle fell into decay. In 1281 an attack on it broke down the gates and doors, but by then the castle was already ‘weak, old and demolished’. A chapel on the site was still in use in the 14th century, but by then stones were being robbed from the site and sold. By the 16th century nothing survived above the ground.


The Dig

In 1978 Stephen and Verna helped with an excavation at the castle. It was organised by Queens University. Belfast and was set up to find out more about the castle following an earlier dig in 1949. Work was done on the large tower or keep on the east side of the inner bailey. One of the more unusual finds was a wheelbarrow buried by a local postman who had been doing some unofficial digging in the 1940s! Here are some photographs of the excavation.

There was a mystery surrounding a find made in the bottom of a cleared out cess pit. Lying at the bottom of the pit was the complete skeleton of a hawk or falcon! How on earth did it get there?


Visiting the Castle


Where is Deddington ?

The market town of Deddington is in Oxfordshire at the junction of the A4260 and the B4031, 9km south of Banbury.

Where is the Castle ?

The castle is on the east side of the town of Deddington. The best place to park is in the Market Place because you are not really allowed to park next to the castle. The castle is looked after by English Heritage and they have put two information boards up on the site. It is free to visit.

How does Deddington Castle Look Now?

You go down a small lane off Castle Street, then you go down under loads of trees which cover the castle ditches. There is a little entrance across the ditch and then you are on an enormous grassy area. There is a football pitch on it and it only takes up a tiny space. You can see lots of mounds and steep ditches where the castle used to be. There are no buildings left standing on the area anymore. Past the end of the castle (to the East) are some dried up fish ponds but we did not visit them.

The people who worked on this were:

Camilla, Christopher, Morgan, David, Alexander, Jason, Paul, James, Robert, Russell, ,Alice, Patrick, Dan, Mary , Sam B , Andrew, Richard, Matthew K ,Thomas, Julian, Jamie, Dickon, Jim, William B, Charlotte, William F, Amy, Sam G, Katie,Tamoya, Alexander B, Thomas, Naomi, Matthew J, Thomas E, James M, Lewis, Fay and Lily.

Thank you to Carol, Stephen, Verna, Keith and Alexander's dad for helping us.

How did he get there?

Useful Links

Here are some links connected with the work we did at Deddington that you might find useful.:

Deddington's Own Web site, for more information about this historic town

Multimap have some fantastic aerial photographs, check out this one of the castle site

Your own YAC home page to see what else is going on

The Oxfordshire Museum at Woodstock which was our base for the day

Here are a couple of web sites dedicated to castles: Castles of Britain and Castles on the Web