What a site!

Snodhill Castle – first impressions
Dr. Pamela Marshall


Dr. Pamela Marshall is internationally recognised as a leading researcher in castle studies. For fourteen years she was Chair of the British Castle Studies Group whilst also serving as UK representative on the foremost international body for European castle studies, Chateau Gaillard.

Snodhill does not exactly rank high on the list of must-see castles Britain has to offer, barely qualifying for a short entry in gazetteers and conspicuous by its absence from bibliographies.

Yet what a site! 

It’s easy to think that after 250 years of castle studies, even in a country as rich in medieval castles as Britain, we have pretty much got them all sussed.

This has never been my stance, and my first visit to Snodhill did nothing to make me change my mind.

The castle stands in a part of the country we know to have been crucial in the advance of the Norman Conquest and here we have indications dating to the earliest period of Norman advance. The topographical setting and the immense scale and variety of the earthworks alone make it more than worthy of study, while the standing remains bear significant witness to a thriving later history: I find that late extension to the motte-top keep entrance particularly intriguing.

Where historical sources were sparse, and where fieldwork methods were undeveloped and practically difficult it has not been uncommon for significant sites to have escaped the attention they deserved. This castle was, after all, the caput* of a barony - and I am so pleased that the relative neglect of the past is giving way to a proper programme of investigation using up-to-the-minute techniques.

It will be great to see Snodhill appear on the map, academically and in terms of regional awareness. The Snodhill Castle Preservation Trust in conjunction with Historic England and, indeed, the local community which has shown such an appetite for the project, are to be applauded for this. Personally, I cannot wait for some more results!

Preservation timeline 

2016 February  | Snodhill Castle Preservation Trust registered with the Charity Commission.

2016 April | emergency propping work funded by Historic England undertaken. 

2016 October | The first detailed topographical survey of the site for at least 80 years is commenced by Historic England. The survey will cover the surrounding environment (medieval village, park, field systems and lanes) to help the trust formulate a long term plan of preservation and investigation. 

2016 November | Archaeological investigation of the South Bastion conducted by Herefordshire Archaeology uncovers a finely built chamber, purpose currently unknown.

2017 | A major programme of consolidation conducted by Sally Strachey Building Conservation and funded by Historic England will commence to secure the castle’s standing remains and enable the trust to continue further repair and consolidation in the years to come.


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