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Lower Down Castle, Lydbury North

In the civil parish of Lydbury North.
In the historic county of Shropshire.
Modern Authority of Shropshire.
1974 county of Shropshire.
Medieval County of Shropshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO33648460
Latitude 52.45535° Longitude -2.97800°

Lower Down Castle, Lydbury North has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The motte castle at Lower Down Farm survives well and is a good example of its class. It will retain archaeological information relating to its construction and occupation. The foundations of a tower keep are preserved on the summit of the motte and will retain architectural details of the keep. The earthwork enclosures and the associated building platforms are a good example of settlement remains, which in this location illustrate well the close association between the castle and its community. Environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which the castle and its settlement were constructed and occupied will be preserved in the bases of the ditch fills. Such monuments, when considered as a single site or as a part of a broader medieval landscape, contribute valuable information concerning the settlement pattern, economy and social structure of the countryside during the medieval period.
The monument includes the remains of a motte castle, the foundations of a shell keep and a group of earthworks marking the remains of an associated settlement. The motte is situated on the summit of a rounded hill overlooking ground falling to the north. It includes an earthen mound with a base diameter of 36m rising 4.7m to a summit 18m in diameter. The centre of the motte is hollowed to a depth of 1.5m, a feature which is believed to represent the foundation cut for a polygonal shell keep which originally stood on the mound.
A section of laid stone walling 1m long remains visible in the south west quadrant of the mound top and indicates that this keep was of stone construction. Substantial stone foundations are visible to a depth of several feet where exposed by surface erosion, indicating that the keep foundations continue well below the current upper surface of the mound. Surrounding the mound is a ditch averaging 6.5m wide and between 2m and 0.6m deep. Coursed stone exposed in the side of the ditch in the north west quarter suggest that it was originally faced in stone. Material from the ditch cut has been thrown outwards to form a counter scarp bank along the outer edge of the ditch. This is visible as a well defined earthwork averaging 4.3m wide and 0.5m high on all sides but the south east where it is no longer present.
To the north and north east of the motte are a group of low earthworks which indicate the buried remains of a small settlement which was associated with the motte castle. A linear bank up to 4m wide and 0.5m high with slight traces of a ditch on its east side extends from the motte curving out to the north. It runs for 57m before ending on a modern hedgeline. A well defined scarp 0.4m high runs parallel to the bank some 30m to the west. A second bank runs at right angles to the first extending towards the east. This ends after 70m on a modern hedgeline. North of this scarp are faint traces of the earthwork remains of ridge and furrow ploughing. These rectilinear earthworks represent the remains of a group of small enclosures bounded by banks and ditches, some of which functioned as small paddocks and stock enclosures whilst others were ploughed on occasion. Some of the enclosures, especially those to the north east of the motte contained buildings, the platforms of which survive as low earthworks. (Scheduling Report)

I did a site visit on 26-3-06 shortly after the site had been cleared of trees and other vegetation. To my untrained but experienced eyes the partly buried foundations were of a short run of a 1.7m wide straight wall. To me the remains look more those of a collapsed and robbed square tower, possibly with a fore-building, rather than a shell keep on a motte. Modern brick rubble suggest a later building on the site which adds additional confusion to interpreting the site. (Philip Davis)
Down was a township in the parish of Lydbury North but was a part of the manor of Clun with a sub-tenant owing service to Clun Barony rather than to Bishop's Castle. The service was half a knight's-fee in the C13.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:34

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