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Kempsey Village Banks

In the civil parish of Kempsey.
In the historic county of Worcestershire.
Modern Authority of Worcestershire.
1974 county of Hereford and Worcester.
Medieval County of Worcestershire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO848491
Latitude 52.13886° Longitude -2.22474°

Kempsey Village Banks has been described as a Urban Defence although is doubtful that it was such.

There are earthwork remains.


King writes village is embanked. Creighton and Higham write 'Kemsey is a rare example of an enclosed medieval village without a castle.' They given no specific reference and presumably they are quoting King.

W of village, enclosing Church etc. Stands on natural terrace of gravel on E bank of R Severn - terrace some 10-14' above flood plain during floods, waters reach base of terrace & surrounds. Earthwork on all sides except N. Only here that artificial bank constructed & ditch dug across terrace, rest of earthwork being formed by scarping of natural banks of terrace. There is a slight bank on S side of churchyard..... this bank extends beyond the (churchyard) and returns Northwards for small distance outside W boundary of churchyard.... (O'Neill 1956)
Is only example which can be fairly assigned to division (promontory class A). Rampart which guarded neck from NE was in good preservation until 1836 (Allies). Now only central part remains to height of 6-8', but position of remainder may be inferred. Other sides of the promontory were apparently well enough defended by scarps rising from marshy ground. Area enclosed is 11 acres (VCH). (Worcestershire and Worcester City HER as Iron Age fort)

There does seem to have been an enclosure around all, or part, of Kempsey but this may well have been a much earlier feature and the possibility of it having a defensive function in the medieval period seems remote. However the embankment may have been retained and maintained as a flood defence on the west side, where it seems best preserved. It may also be it was only ever a flood defence earthwotk and that other interpretations of the earthworks have made fanfiful extensions to produce a 'circuit' that did not actually exist. With regard to Kemsey being without a castle it did have a bishops palace a building of equal status and similar function.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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