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Lydford Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Lidford

In the civil parish of Lydford.
In the historic county of Devon.
Modern Authority of Devon.
1974 county of Devon.

OS Map Grid Reference: SX50848478
Latitude 50.64358° Longitude -4.10942°

Lydford Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.

Description

Lydford Castle was built in AD 1195, as a purpose built prison for detaining royal prisoners, and took the form of a square stone tower or keep. It is also believed to have been used as the administration office for the Royal Forest of Dartmoor and as a Court of Law. In the 13th century, the castle was gaining importance as a Stannary Gaol, imprisoning people for offences related to tin-mining in the area. A second phase of construction began on the site at this time. This involved demolishing the upper part of the tower and adding two more storeys. The lower section of the castle was surrounded by earth to form a motte. On the north west side a narrow, rectangular bailey was added. The castle continued in use as a prison for several centuries. During the English Civil War, Lydford Castle was used by the Royalists as a prison or dungeon (in the lowest floor of the building) for Parliamentary supporters and soldiers. However it is recorded as in a state of disrepair in 1650 and major repairs were carried out in 1716 and 1733. In 1932, it was transferred from the Duchy of Cornwall to the guardianship of the Ministry of Works. The floors and lead roof of the castle have been destroyed. Restoration work was carried out to the rest of the monument in the 1950s. The tower is 14.5 metres square with 2.1 metre thick walls surrounded by an earthen motte measuring 45 metres by 35 metres. The tower has deeply splayed round-headed windows. The motte was once surrounded by a 4.5 metre deep ditch. The bailey covers an area 60 metre by 40 metre. The site was excavated in the late 1950s and 1960s. Located nearby, to the south of the castle, is an earlier Norman earthwork castle and to the north are the Saxon town defences. (PastScape)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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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 Sunday, October 19, 2014

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