Castle Street Off M27
Portchester Castle can trace its history back to at least the 3rd century when the Romans built a magnificent Portus Magnus. They threw up walls, ten feet thick and twenty feet high, enclosing an area of nine acres. Today its impressive remains is one of the most complete Roman structures in the whole of Northern Europe.
After theRomans left the Saxons used it to protect themselves against Viking invasions.
The Norman castle was built much later and although impressive in its own right, it is the Roman fortifications that take centre stage.
An absolute must visit for any castle-finder.
~ History ~
280 ~ A Roman Saxon Shore Fort, Portus Adurni, is built by Marcus Aurelius Carausius, self-proclaimed emperor of Britannia and northern Gaul. The fortified harbour is repeatedly attacked over centuries by Saxons, Jutes and Angles.
400's ~ Following Roman withdrawal from Britain the fort is home to a Saxon community.
899 ~ Upon the death of his father, Alfred the Great, the Saxon King Edward the Elder re-uses the Roman Walls to create a fortified settlement from which his people can shelter from, and counter-attack against, Viking invaders.
1068 ~ Following the Norman Conquest William the Conqueror's forces begin the building of a castle within the protective walls
of the much larger Roman Fort to form its outer bailey, whilst a moat and timber barrier are used to protect the Inner Ward.
1120's ~ The castle is rebuilt in stone, including construction of the Great Tower.
1154 ~ The castle is taken into Royal ownership by King Henry II.
1216 ~ The castle is surrendered by King John's garrison to the invading Prince Louis, invited by the Barons to seize the English throne. Following King John's death and his nine year old son crowned King Henry III, Portchester Castle is re-captured the following year from the French as Louis is forced to flee back to France.
1320's ~ Fearful of French invasion, King Edward II garrisons the castle and order building at a cost of more than £1,100. He extensively remodels he two main Roman gates and inner bailey, and encloses the forebuilding of the great tower with new structures.
1346 ~ Portchester is used as a marshalling ground for troops departing to fight in France. The forces of King Edward III depart from Portchester on their way to victory at Crecy and Calais.
1360's ~ King Richard II undertakes important alterations, creating a grand series of royal apartments around the south and west sides of the inner bailey. The great tower is also remodelled.
1415 ~ King Henry V departs from Portchester to his victorious campaign that culminates in the Battle of Agincourt.
1450s ~ The rise of Portsmouth means a decline in Portchester's fortunes seeing the castle fall into ruin.
1500's ~ King Henry VIII orders repairs to be made to the castle during the period of increased hostility with France.