The earthwork remains of a motte-and-bailey castle constructed in the aftermath of the Norman invasion and subsequently modified. Only earthworks remain and these are on private land but can be viewed at a distance from a public footpath.
NO OFFICIAL SITE
Notes: The site is found off Church Lane. There are no signs nor any suitable car parking facilities in the immediate vicinity but on-road parking is available on the adjacent Spring Street (details above).
Chipping Norton Castle was built shortly after the Norman Conquest and later expanded into a substantial fortification reflecting the economic success of the adjacent town. By the thirteenth century it was probably being used by the Earls of Arundel as a hunting lodge for nearby Wychwood Forest. Today only earthworks remain.
HISTORY OF CHIPPING NORTON CASTLE
Chipping Norton, originally known as 'Nortone' (North town - derived from its position to the north of the Cotswolds), was an existing settlement at the time of the Norman invasion. Soon after Ernaulf de Hesdin, a French Knight who had been granted the manor, built the first castle on the site in the form of an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. Ernaulf died around 1097 but the castle and manor passed through his daughter Avelina to her descendants, the FitzAlans.
It was they who built the second castle on the site during the twelfth century most probably as a result of the Anarchy, the civil war between King Stephen and Matilda over the succession to the throne. The earthworks of the original castle were modified for the purpose and almost certainly the original intent behind the new structure was to protect the town which had started to grow rich from the profits of the wool trade from the neighbouring Cotswolds. By 1205 it hosted a thriving market and this is how the settlement acquired its name - 'Chipping' deriving from the medieval term for a market. A Royal charter, granted by Henry III in 1244, and the impressive church of St Mary's (originally dedicated to St Nicholas) are both evidence of the continued prosperity of the site.
Precisely when this second castle at Chipping Norton went out of use is unknown. By the thirteenth century it was probably used by the FitzAlans, who by this time were Earls of Arundel, as a hunting lodge for nearby Wychwood Forest. It was still in use as late as 1268 but the next surviving record, dating to 1566, records the castle as ruinous.
The earthworks can be viewed at a distance from the public path