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Lewisham Castle, Aldbourne Chase

In the civil parish of Aldbourne.
In the historic county of Wiltshire.
Modern Authority of Wiltshire.
1974 county of Wiltshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU24357386
Latitude 51.46320° Longitude -1.65087°

Lewisham Castle, Aldbourne Chase has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a Siege Work although is doubtful that it was such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.

Description

Lewisham Castle survives well as an earthwork which will retain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to its construction and use and the landscape in which it developed. It is likely to have been adapted in the medieval period for military or hunting purposes.
The monument includes Lewisham Castle, an elliptical embanked platform with an external ditch interpreted as a ringwork, which lies just below the brow of a north facing chalk scarp overlooking Aldbourne Chase.
The platform measures a maximum of 36m east to west internally. Both the bank and the broad 'V'-shaped ditch enclosing the platform are more pronounced on the northern and western sides, where the ditch is a maximum of 2m in depth and 9m in width at its top, and the bank up to 9m in width and 2.5m in height. A widening of the ditch on the north western side is thought to be due to slumping whilst a slight ridge against its outer lip to the west indicates the remains of a counterscarp bank. A break in the bank and ditch on the south eastern edge of the platform possibly comprises the original entrance and a sub-circular bulge constructed of flint nodules on the inner side of the northern bank is thought to represent the foundation for a structure.
Both the etymology of the name Lewisham Castle and the precise function of the enclosure are unknown, although 19th century finds of iron arrowheads and large quantities of medieval pottery in its immediate vicinity demonstrate that it was certainly utilised in this period. The position of the monument below the brow of a hill suggests that it was not primarily built with defence in mind and its proximity to Aldbourne Chase and to several similarly sized enclosures of known prehistoric date indicate that it might have been a much older feature which was adapted in the medieval period as a ringwork for either military use or in connection with hunting. (Scheduling Report)

Ringwork. Overall diameter 68m. The earthwork is strongest at the South-West (uphill) weakening towards the North-East quadrant where the outer ditch is ploughed out. The bank platform at SU24347386, suggests a mound that has been overthrown inwardly, exposing much of the flint content. Flints are prolific over the site and its surrounds. The site occupies a position at the head of a small coombe, and below the adjacent ridge. This does not altogether support the view of a purely military site, but suggests the re-use of a pre-existing pastoral feature such as that in Blakes Copse. It is well-situated to have functioned as a hunting lodge. (PastScape)

There is tradition of this being constructed/used by mercenaries of Louis the Dauphin in April 1217 and thus have an origin/use as a fieldwork similar to a siege castle. However, Creighton suggests the work originated as a hunting lodge, being suitably located for the administration the surrounding chase and the accommodation of hunting parties.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
Maps >
OS getamap   Streetmap   Old-Maps   Where's the path   NLS maps  
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   EarthTools   GeoHack  
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • Books
    • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Wessex (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 92
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 498
      Pugh, R.B. and Crittall, Elizabeth (ed), 1957, VCH Wiltshire Vol. 1 Part 1 p. 22–3, 261, 272
  • Periodical Articles
    • Creighton, O.H., 2000, 'Early Castles in the Medieval Landscape of Wiltshire' Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Vol. 93 p. 108 online copy
      Stevenson, J.H., 1992, 'The castles of Marlborough and Ludgershall in the Middle Ages' Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Vol. 85 p. 74 online copy
      1987, Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Vol. 81 p. 12 online copy
      Philips, B. and R., 1969, CBA Group12 &13 Archaeological Review Vol. 4 p. 58
      King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
      Brentnall, H.C., 1945-7, 'Lewisham Castle (Note)' Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Vol. 51 p. 472-3 online copy
      Carrington, F.A., 1855, 'Intrenchments at Aldbourne' Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Vol. 2 p. 126-9 online copy
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
    • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 229 online copy
      English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 217 online copy
      English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 222 online copy
      English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 203 online copy
      English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 199 online copy
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The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of English Heritage, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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