Odiham Castle and its role in history
King John of the Landless is believed to have stayed at this 13th-century castle before setting off to sign the Magna Carta. Odiham Castle, or King John’s Castle, as the locals call him, is a medieval castle built in the 13th century. The ruins of an octagonal fortress – one of the three fortresses built by the king during his reign, now stand next to the newly built Basingstoke Canal.
The castle has an intriguing connection to the Magna Carta. It is believed that it was from here in 1215 that King John went to Runnymede to attach his seal to the document. But although the king signed the Magna Carta, he did not actually abide by the statute. Thus, the First War of the Barons soon began, when King John and his troops fought against rebels supported by France. As part of the conflict in 1216, the French knights laid siege to Odiham Castle.
The castle has witnessed many other historical episodes. For many centuries, he accepted and concluded a number of royal persons, nobles, and even parliament. By the 14th century, the castle was used mainly as a hunting lodge, and not as a fortress. By the beginning of the 1600s, it was almost abandoned, and left the lists of the most influential castles in England.
Today, only the ruins of its huge walls still stand and are an impressive sight. Around and inside the fortress there are several information boards that give a brief history of the castle and explain the details of the construction. Access is via a flat path along the canal, which is often very dirty in wet weather. Climb up the path up the short path to get to the eastern portal of the Gravewell Tunnel, which is a special scientific object. More bats live here than anywhere else in the UK.