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Lydford Norman Ringwork

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
The Fort; Lideforde

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SX50828470
Latitude 50.64288° Longitude -4.11113°

Lydford Norman Ringwork has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Lydford Norman Earthworks are thought to be the remains of a Norman castle or fort, consisting of a half ringwork. It is believed to have been erected after 1066 and occupied for a short period before being abandoned, probably by the late 12th century when Lydford Castle, to the north east, was built. It is located on the south west edge of the town, within the defences of the Anglo-Saxon burh of Lydford (see associated record). It is defended on two sides by steep ravines and on the third by a rubble rampart/bank and (partly) rock-cut ditch. The rampart is crescent-shaped in plan, running a length of 55 metres. The earth bank is up to 25 metres thick and stands up to 5 metres high from the base of the ditch. The external ditch is on average 3 metres deep and has well-defined, partly rock-cut sides. At the centre of the earthwork, a narrow bank crosses the base of the ditch and there is an indentation near the summit of the bank. This could possibly have been the position of a feature such as a timber causeway entrance, although this is uncertain. The interior of the ringwork is level. A transect was cut across the bank and ditch of the ringwork, and part of the interior excavated in 1963. This revealed the burnt out remains of five timber and earth buildings set close together behind the rampart, their inward facing ends being flanked by deeply set, rough stone paving. The buildings were rectangular in plan, subdivided internally and had earth, clay or shillet (slate) walls, which were faced externally with wattle woven round posts. They measured 8 to 12 feet wide and 24 to 25 feet long. The rampart was found to have been revetted internally with massive timber posts. The finds from the excavation included 11th-early 12th century pottery, a coin of the first issue of Stephen and nearly 300 kilograms of charred grain. (PastScape)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Higham, Robert A., 1999, 'Castles, Fortified Houses and Fortified Towns in the Middle Ages' in Kain, R. and Ravenhill, W., Historical Atlas of South-West England (University of Exeter Press) p. 136-43
      Salter, Mike, 1999, The Castles of Devon and Cornwall (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 70-2
      Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 59-60
      Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 277, 279
      Drage, C., 1987, 'Urban castles' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 117-32 online copy
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 117
      Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 258
      Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 235
      Hoskins, W.G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon (London: Collins) p. 427
      Wall, C., 1906, in Page, Wm (ed), 'Ancient Earthworks' VCH Devon Vol. 1 p. 619 (a misleading account)
  • Periodical Articles
    • Higham, R.A., 1988, 'Devon Castles: an annotated list' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 46 p. 142-9
      Higham, R.A., 1982, 'Early Castles in Devon' Château Gaillard Vol. 9-10 p. 101-116
      Saunders, A.D. et al, 1980, 'Lydford Castle, Devon' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 24 p. 123-86 online copy
      Addyman, P.V. in Wilson, D.M. and Hurst, D.G.(eds), 1967, 'Medieval Britain in 1966: I Pre-Conquest' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 11 p. 263 download copy
      King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
      Addyman, P.V. in Wilson, D.M. and Hurst, D.G.(eds), 1966, 'Medieval Britain in 1965: II Post-conquest' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 10 p. 196-7 (Plan) download copy
      Addyman, P.V. in Wilson, D.M. and Hurst, D.G.(eds), 1965, 'Medieval Britain in 1964, II. Post-Conquest' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 9 p. 170-1, 194 download copy
      Renn, D.F., 1959, 'Mottes: a classification' Antiquity Vol. 33 p. 106-12
  • Guidebooks
    • Saunders, A.D., 1982 (2edn), Lydford: Saxon Town and Castle (HMSO)
  • Primary (Medieval documents or transcriptions of such documents - This section is far from complete and the secondary sources should be consulted for full references.)
    • 1086, Domesday Book online copy (40 houses laid waste - taken as evidence of castle building although this town may have been economically failing - it certainly never became a significant urban settlement) See also The Devonshire Association, 1884-92, The Devonshire Domesday and Geld Inquest (Plymouth) Vol. 1 p. 5 online copy
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
    • Fradley, Michael, 2011, The Old in the New: Urban Castle Imposition in Anglo-Norman England, AD1050-1150 (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) available via EThOS
      Newman, P., 2000, The Town and Castles Earthworks at Lydford, Devon (English Heritage Survey Report)
      Higham, R.A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) Downloadable from EThOS
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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