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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.
Medieval 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.


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

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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:09

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