Internet – Archaeology Data Services [University of York]
Earthwork Castles of Gwent and Ergyng AD 1050-1250: Poston earthwork
1050 - 1250
This summary concerning the earthwork at Poston is an extract from a Doctoral thesis by Dr N Phillips, University of Sheffield (2005), entitled ‘Earthwork Castles of Gwent and Ergyng, AD 1050-1250’. This thesis is concerned with the earthwork and timber castles built in the southern March of Wales, addresses the presence of the castles and discusses their roles as weapons of conquest and structures of administrative control.
POSTON - Grid: SO 35807 37078
The Poston site is situated on a slight spur of land some 30m above and to the north-east of the B4348, Hereford to Peterchurch road.
The visible remains of the castle today are unimpressive (Vol. 2. plate 217). The most visually accessible aspects are the modified bank on the south-west of the site, which appears to have had its gradient exaggerated, and a berm running from the east to the north forming a slightly elevated rectilinear platform (Vol. 2. plate 218). Close inspection of the site reveals very indistinct earthworks. A good vantage point from which to assess the site can be gained from the north looking back across the spur (Vol. 2. plate 219). To the left of the trees, which mark the line of the defensive bank above the road, can be seen two ramparts with an intervening ditch. On the right of the trees there is a change of slope which marks the north extent of the raised platform. The best view of the site, however, is from the air as the next photograph shows (Vol. 2. plate 220). The extent of the platform can be seen surrounded by a ditch, a bank and a further ditch outside. There appears to be no bailey which supports the view that this site represents a later fortified homestead rather than an earthwork castle of the motte variety.
Topographic survey: (Survey 44)
The earthwork consists of an irregular rectilinear mound with an indistinct top surface of some 257m² and a base area of approximately 718.423m². In construction of the mound, the builders made use of the natural slope to the east and south adding extra gradient to the latter to achieve a height of 6.14m. The other sides rise no more than 2m.
To the south-west lies the River Dore whilst above it to the north-east stands the Iron Age hill- fort of Poston. Surrounding the site and visible from it are the Norman sites of Bacton, Chanstone, Cothill and Snodhill whilst Monnington is a little more than 2km to the west. In terms of strategic position Poston has all the right conditions for a motte and bailey castle. It is a mound situated on the edge of a steep slope and it is possible that the flat area to the north and east may have been a bailey. Unfortunately the site has been almost entirely ploughed out and indeed the reason that the mound remains may be that it contains a considerable quantity of stone making it difficult to plough.
Very little documentary information exists on this site. Db.H lists it as ‘Poscetenetune’ in the ‘Valle de Stratelei’. The tenant in chief was William de Scohies and Ralph held it of him. Edwin had previously held it and it had been waste but at the time of the survey, 1086, was valued at 5s (Thorn and Thorn 1983. 185c). William de Scohies was an absent lord with the land worked by his tenant (Marshall 1938. 145).
Modern reference: HWCM8408
Kay visited the site in 1952 and reported that then the earthworks were ‘extremely vague’ possibly as a result of recent ploughing (1967. 42). He did, however, make a plan of what he was able to see at the time (Vol. 2. figure 99).
Interpretation: Fortified-site (Late)
The site of Poston is difficult to classify because it is so badly damaged. The only certainty is that a man-made structure exists there; it is not a natural formation. Interpretation based on field work, survey and documentary evidence suggests the site is a late period fortified-site and not a motte. The shape and height of the mound provide the basis for this interpretation whilst the valley setting, surrounded by very good agricultural land may suggest the motivation behind its placement.