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Great Bedwyn

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Great Bedwin

In the civil parish of Great Bedwyn.
In the historic county of Wiltshire.
Modern Authority of Wiltshire.
1974 county of Wiltshire.
Medieval County of Wiltshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU28356295
Latitude 51.36455° Longitude -1.59301°

Great Bedwyn has been described as a Timber Castle but is rejected as such.

There are no visible remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Leland writes 'I had once been told that there was a castle at Great Bedwyn, but no-one in the town could tell me anything about it.' but, elsewhere, 'At Bedwyn in Wiltshire there used to be a castle or fortress, and its ruins and site may still be seen.'

Great Bedwyn emerged as the centre of a large Anglo-Saxon estate in the 8th century, although its genesis may lie in the landscape around and beyond the Study Area. Circa 1km to the south of the modern village, beyond the scope of detailed examination in this survey, lies the large villa complex of Castle Copse, where extensive excavations (Hostetter & Howe 1997) have demonstrated continuous occupation from the 1st to 5th centuries AD. It is believed that the villa acted as the focal point of a large agricultural estate, and it is in this role, although probably not in direct succession, that the settlement is thought to have begun (Eagles 1997) – possibly by the later 6th century. Haslam (1976) advances the theory that following the decline of centralised Roman authority, the old Iron Age hillfort of Chisbury (c.2.2km to the north of Great Bedwyn) was reoccupied and effectively became the centre of a new estate based largely upon the bounds of the former Romano-British one. Chisbury is thought to be the stronghold of 'Cissanbyrig', listed in the 10th century Burghal Hideage, and Haslam suggests that if this were so it would only have been a temporary refuge in times of strife, with ordinary 'civilian' life based within the fertile river valley below the fort. (Mcmahon p. 13)

Salter thinks he may have been referring to Iron Age Hill fort at Chisbury. There is also the site of a large Roman courtyard villa at Castle Copse (SU28356295). Timbs and Gunn also give both Chisbury castle and a site they call 'Castle Hill, south of the town' for a fortification 'formed or strengthened by Cissa, a Saxon chieftain'. (NB. Chisbury is north of Great Bedwyn).
Gatehouse suspects Leland was, in fact, referring to both sites in his two entries. Great Bedwyn was a significant Saxon settlement with a mint from 1056-65 and was a borough in C11 and C12, but failed to flourish after this. Although there may have been a Saxon royal manorial centre in the town there is little likelihood of a post-Conquest castle at, or near, Great Bedwyn.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:08

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