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St Briavels Stow Green

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Castle Tump; Stowe Camp; Old Castle of Dene

In the civil parish of St Briavels.
In the historic county of Gloucestershire.
Modern Authority of Gloucestershire.
1974 county of Gloucestershire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO56430644
Latitude 51.75493° Longitude -2.63273°

St Briavels Stow Green has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.

Description

The earthwork known locally as Castle Tump is listed as a Norman castle by Hogg and King, although earlier described as an Iron Age camp by Playne and Witts. It occupies an area of only 25 yds. dia. on the extemity of a small spur, partly quarried away, and is defended by the scarping of the hill, and by a stone rampart on the "land side", which measured up to 8 ft. in height in 1908, with slight traces of a ditch (Hogg and King; Witts; Morgan).
The "camp" at SO 56430644 has the appearance of a ring motte although the north west side has been quarried away. The rampart is up to 3.2m. high on the east side where the bank has been mutilated in recent times. In the west the rampart rises 2.0m. from the interior, and is then 3.1m. above the slight remains of an outer ditch which forms part of the southern defences. An entrance in the south side is 3.0m. wide and probably original. (F1 DRB 15-SEP-70)
Listed by Cathcart King. This was probably the predecessor of St Briavels Castle which was built circa 1129. (King 1983). (PastScape)

The site of the castle, at the north end of the estate commanding a route up the Stowe valley from the Wye, is a substantial circular rampart. Much rubble stonework is strewn around but may derive from quarrying rather than from buildings. Presumably built for the Crown soon after the Conquest, the castle may have been occupied only for a short period until the establishment of St. Briavels castle on a stronger site and one more effective for controlling the Wye crossing at Bigsweir. In 1310, in the only early reference found to it, the castle at Stowe was called the 'old castle'. (VCH)

As Paul Remfry states, the idea this is a precursor to St Briavels castle "is not based on any historical or archaeological substance." Certainly the idea that the original founders did not recognise the strongest military site in the area straightaway, as suggested in the VCH, can be dismissed. Remfry suggests this small enclosure may be a C13 monastic grange. Equally he dismisses the 'old castle of Dean' as being a precursor to St Bravels identifying that site, mentioned in 1153, as Welshbury hillfort. The Forest of Dean does seem to have been administered as a number of small balliwicks and it may also be possible this represents an early foresters lodge, later granted to Parc-Grace-Dieu abbey.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
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This record last updated on Saturday, September 20, 2014

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