Medieval castle taken off at risk register after £300,000 works

Medieval castle taken off at risk register after £300,000 works
Merdon Castle is near Winchester, Hampshire (Historic England/PA)
PA Media - Historic England

The remains of a medieval motte and bailey castle have been removed from Historic England’s at risk list following the completion of works costing nearly £300,000.

Specialist repairs, repointing and the introduction of soft capping – adding a protective layer of earth and grass to the tops of ruined walls – have been carried out as part of a series of works to protect Merdon Castle, near Winchester, Hampshire.

A 400ft “bottomless” well was also made safe and capped as part of the works which were funded with a £240,700 grant from Historic England.

A spokeswoman said the scheduled monument had become overgrown and stonework was loose but the improvements meant that it could be removed from the Government body’s Heritage At Risk register.

Merdon CastleMerdon Castle near Winchester, Hampshire, had become overgrown (Historic England/PA)PA Media - Historic England

Elspeth Faulkner, Historic England architect, said: “Merdon Castle has spent many years on the Heritage At Risk register and it was critical that a programme of repairs was undertaken now to avoid further loss.

“A new partnership with Winchester University holds exciting possibilities for discovering more about this historic site while helping students develop important skills.”

Dr Monika Knul, from the University of Winchester, said: “We’re delighted that, together with the owners and Historic England, we have been able to introduce Merdon Castle to our students through their study of archaeological field techniques.

“We’re excited to expand this programme so that students, and the monument itself, benefit in the long term.”

Additional funding for the repairs, which cost a total of £288,840, were provided by the landowner of the site which is on private land but open to the public for regular community walks.

Merdon CastleThe remains of the medieval motte and bailey castle have been removed from Historic England’s at risk list (Historic England/PA)PA Media - Historic England

The Historic England spokeswoman said that it was believed that Merdon Castle was built between 1129 and 1138 by Henry de Blois, Bishop of Winchester, during the reign of his brother, Stephen, the last Norman king of England.

The castle was partly demolished in 1155 on the accession of Henry II but was used as a bishop’s palace until at least the 14th century.

The medieval castle was built within the ramparts of an earlier hill fort which probably dates back to the late bronze age or early iron age (8th to 5th centuries BC).

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