An 11th century motte and bailey castle, with a bailey to the west of the motte, and a ditched enclosure to the east which contained 4 fishponds. The motte and its western bailey survive as earthworks whilst the eastern enclosure is visible as a cropmark.
East of the town of that name, which lies near the border of Northants, are extensive ranges of grass-covered mounds, the sole remains of a castle of great strength and consequence that flourished here 800 years ago. It was surrounded by a wide ditch, which is quite traceable, but its stones have been sought for as building material on all sides and have vanished. The whole covers an area of six acres.
Dugdale and Kennet say that the manor of Deddington had in 10 Richard I. a castle fortified on it, which soon after belonged to Guy de Diva, and was afterwards seized by King John, who held it in 1204. In 1215, when the resistance of the barons had begun, William Malet, Baron of Curig Malet, Somerset, was disseised of his manor of Deddington, which he had obtained by marriage with the daughter of Thomas Basset, of Headington, and the same year the king granted to Robert Maudit and Alan de Boclaund the castle of Deddington to keep during his pleasure.
According to Leland, this Norman castle was dismantled temp. Henry VIII, but it is only of late years that its ruins have been used as a quarry. There was enough left of the structure in the seventeenth century to hold a garrison for the king, and accordingly it was besieged by the Parliament in 1644. It was frequently used at that time as a temporary fortress by both sides, and after the fight at Copredy Bridge, the army of Charles rested here a night, the king being housed in the village.
The chief historical interest of the place attaches to the year 1312, when Piers Gaveston, the companion of Edward II. (see TONBRIDGE, &c.), had fallen into his enemies’ hands at Scarborough (q.v.). Here, with the promise of life, he was committed to the custody of the Earl of Pembroke, who proposed to convey him to the King at Wallingford Castle; but on arriving at Deddington, the earl handed over Gaveston to some of his guards, for confinement during the night in this castle, while he and his countess went to lodge at an adjacent village. It seems that—perhaps by collusion with Pembroke—Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. whose implacable enmity Gaveston had incurred by calling him “the Black Dog of Arden,” learning about this resting-place and the fact of his being weakly guarded, came during the night with a strong force to Deddington. In the morning, Gaveston was aroused early and told to dress speedily, and on descending into the courtyard, found himself in the presence of his deadly enemy, the Black Dog. He was put on a mule, and carried off, “with shouts of triumph and music”, to Warwick Castle. There he threw himself at the feet of the Earl of Lancaster, the head of the cabal, calling him his “gentle lord”; but all in vain: he was hurried away to Blacklow Hill, near Guy’s Cliff, and there beheaded.
A monument, with an inscription, has been placed on the spot in modern times, recording the tragedy. (Castles Of England, Sir James D. Mackenzie, 1896)