Local History: Portchester Castle
Portchester Castle offers a fantastic insight into various periods of British history and originally dates back to the Roman era. Built during Roman times, probably in the third century AD, Portchester Castle is the country’s only example of a Roman fort whose walls still stand complete up to around six metres.
Over the centuries, Portchester Castle has been renovated and rebuilt many times and its use has altered to suit the needs of its owners. In the eleventh century, parts of Portchester Castle were rebuilt into a Norman keep and in the fourteenth century Richard II transformed it into a palace. Like their Roman predecessor, both of these incarnations served a defensive function.
Yet, during the Napoleonic Wars, the role of Portchester Castle changed, as it became a prison for around 7,000 French prisoners of war. This change was due in large part to the reduced importance of Portchester Castle as a defensive structure following the building of the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard by King Henry VII.
Today, Portchester Castle is run by English Heritage who offer audio tours and exhibitions about the site as well as children’s activities.