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HER Number:MDV14317
Name:Ringwork to west of Lydford

Summary

Small triangular Norman ringwork sited on the tip of the Lydford promontory defined on the town side by high banks and a rock-cut ditch. The fort obscured remains of an earlier bank along the edge of the natural slope. During excavation in the 1960s, evidence of five buildings was found within the site which were interpreted as granaries. Over and around the buildings was a mass of charred grain finds included local pottery of the 11th and 12th centuries.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 508 847
Map Sheet:SX58SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishLydford
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD
Ecclesiastical ParishBRIDESTOWE

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX58SW/12
  • Old SAM County Ref: 392
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX58SW13

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • RINGWORK (XI - 1060 AD to 1100 AD? (Between))
  • BUILDING (XII - 1135 AD to 1175 AD (Between))

Full description

Worth, R. N., 1879, Lydford and its Castle, 28 (Article in Serial). SDV336870.

Worth describes this as having Celtic origins, and being the remains of a Saxon castle of motte and bailey type.


Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'Entrenchment (Remains of)' shown on 19th century map. The earthwork is in a semi-circular enclosure with indications of the inner face extending to the west forming a horseshoe shape.


Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

'Entrenchment' shown on early 20th century map.


Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 619, Plan (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.


Royal Air Force, 1947, 2386 (Aerial Photograph). SDV230769.

Taken on 13th April 1947.


Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 427 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Domesday book reference to 40 houses being laid waste in Lydford suggests the presence of a castle here, begun between 1066 and 1086.


Ancient Monuments, 1956, Lydford Ringwork (Report - Survey). SDV230740.

Visited in June 1955 and August 1956. A well preserved single bank and ditch enclosing a roughly circular area cut off on one side by a steep fall towards the river.


Renn, D. F., 1959, Mottes. A Classification, 110 (Article in Serial). SDV11931.

Possible siege-work associated with stone keep.


Addyman, P. V., 1963, Interim Report on 1963 Excavations (Report - Interim). SDV230761.

On the tip of the Lydford promontory is a small triangular fort defined on the town side by high banks and a rock-cut ditch. The fort obscured remains of an earlier bank along the edge of the natural slope. This had been covered by a thick make-up level after the fort rampart and ditch had been constructed. The fort may be of early Norman date. Burnt beams and charred grains were found on an occupation layer within.


Addyman, P. V., 1963-1964, Second Interim Report (Un-published). SDV230800.

The roughly triangular early Norman fort was defined by precipices into Lydford gorge on two sides and a rock-cut ditch and shale bank on the third. There was evidence of a slight structure around the precipice edge where 12th century pottery and a 12th century coin were found. About half the interior was occupied by a substantial building later identified as a granary.


Addyman, P. V., 1965, 3rd Interim Report (Report - Interim). SDV230763.

Excavated in 1965 revealed the burnt remains of a series of timber and earth buildings ranged close together behind the rampartand flanked by deeply set rough stone paving. Possible traces of a further range of buildings were located on the north side of the fort by the entrance. The internal buildings were used as granaries at least in their final days but are of 12th century or earlier type. The excavation appears to show substantial Norman defences around a cluster of vernacular buildings.


Wilson, D. M. + Hurst, D. G., 1965, Interim Report, 194 (Article in Serial). SDV230756.


Wilson, D. M. + Hurst, D. G., 1966, Plan/Interim Report, 196-7 (Article in Serial). SDV230757.

Excavated by Addyman from 1963. A small 11th - early 12th century fort of half- ringwork form, enclosed by rubble rampart, and rock-cut ditch. Rampart revetted internally with massive posts. Within the ringwork were found the burnt out remains of five rectangular timber and earth buildings set close together behind the rampart. Over and around the buildings was a mass of charred grain finds included local pottery of the 11th and 12th centuries. Buildings interpreted as five granaries, probably mid 12th century.


Wilson, D. M. + Hurst, D. G., 1967, Interim Report, 263 (Article in Serial). SDV230758.

Five possible granaries of the mid 12th century.


King, D. J. C. + Alcock, L., 1969, Ringworks of England and Wales, 113 (Article in Serial). SDV39240.

Classified by King and Alcock as a Class C (partial) ringwork.


Renn, D. F., 1973, Norman Castles in Britain, 235-6 (Monograph). SDV74000.

Coin of Stephen (1135-1142) was found in excavation, in a late deposit of pottery.


Higham, R. A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon, 69,251,317, Figures 10,11, Plate 12,13 (Post-Graduate Thesis). SDV336189.

No known documentary references, although its construction may be related to the mention of 40 wasted houses in the Domesday Book. A royal castle, founded before 1086.


Saunders, A. D., 1980, Lydford Castle, 123-186 (Article in Serial). SDV253674.


Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/CV, 7-8 (Aerial Photograph). SDV233132.


National Trust, 1984, Lydford Gorge, 5 (Report - Survey). SDV336885.

Site visited in August 1984. the buildings were 8 metres long by 3 metres wide, the walls, of clay, earth or shillet were 0.5 metres wide, with wattle and posts internally and externally. Included in the finds were ornamented bone strips from a 12th century box-lid. The rampart was internally revetted with massive posts, a box-rampart is suggested. The site is defended on two sides by steep ravines and on the third by a rubble rampart and a rock cut ditch. Hill (1981) observes that Lydford was the site of a new mint of Ethelred II. The 11th/12th century earthwork which has been so extensively excavated is now grass-covered and in good condition.


Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Interpretation). SDV319854.

Recorded on aerial photograph.


Higham, R. A., 1988, Devon Castles: An Annotated List, 143 (Article in Serial). SDV341278.

Norman ringwork sited on the promontory.


Ancient Monuments, 1989, 1002506 (Schedule Document). SDV230739.

A semi circular rampart and ditch which terminate at river height. The fortifications of a Pre-Norman borough or British hill-fort.


Ancient Monuments, 1989, Lydford; Ringwork, Castle, Town Banks, Site of Saxon Town and Defences (Schedule Document). SDV351489.

Ringwork: The predecessor of the present Lydford Castle, being a small ringwork with well defined ditch and rampart. Also a stretch of banking running east from the main road along the south edge of the promontory to the corner of Gorge House garden.
A well preserved single bank and ditch enclosing a roughly circular area cut off on one side by a steep, almost precipitous fall towards the river. From the north-east, a ploughed out bank only faintly traceable runs just within the edge of the Lydford promontory towards the more massive earthworks of the castle bailey. These works may represent portions of the pre conquest defences. Mound circa 6.5 metres high, ditch 2.75 metres, bank to the north-east circa 65 metres long.


Higham, R. A., 1989, Timber Castles - A Reassessment, 60 (Article in Serial). SDV230773.


Department of National Heritage, 1997, Scheduled Monument Consent letter (Correspondence). SDV230776.

Scheduled Monument Consent granted for works concerning the erection of a boundary fence with kissing-gate.


Department of National Heritage, 1997, Scheduled Monument Consent letter, Dated 15/8/1997 (Correspondence). SDV230775.

Scheduled Monument Consent granted for the construction of a more permanent trackway along the line of the existing track.


Newman , P., 2000, The Town and Castle Earthworks at Lydford, 9-11 , Figure 6 (Report - Survey). SDV351534.

The Norman castle is sited on the south-west tip of the Lydford promontory. It consists of a substantial crescentric bank with external ditch which annexes one corner of the pre-conquest town. This half ringwork is believed to have been erected shortly after the Norman Conquest in the late 1060's though was occupied only briefly and was probably abandoned before the construction of the 12th century Lydford Castle. During excavation in the 1960s the burnt remains of five timber and earth buildings were revealed. The rectangular buildings were 2.6 - 3.9 metres wide by 7.8 - 8.1 metres long. The earth bank is up to 25 metres thick at the base and stands to a maximum height of 5 metres from the base of the ditch. The rampart is crescentric in plan measuring 55 metres long. The external ditch has sharply defined sides which are rock-cut in places and is on average 3 metres deep. The southern end of the bank and ditch are truncated by the modern hedge and the promontory whereas that to the north has a terminal appearance. The interior of the ringwork is approximately level. Historic maps show a more complete ringwork at the site.


Exeter Archaeology, 2008, Archaeological Assessment of Proposed Sewage Treatment Works at Lydford, 6-7 (Report - Assessment). SDV351460.

Remains of a 11th /12th century defensive ringwork on the promontory to the west of Lydford parish church. During excavation evidence of five buildings was found within the site which were interpreted as granaries. The ringwork partly overlay the earlier town defences where evidence of Saxon buildings was found.


National Monument Record, 2013, 440695, OSA SX58SW13, Plan (National Monuments Record Database). SDV230753.

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. 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 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. The site is in the care of English Heritage.


Ordnance Survey, 2013, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV350786.

Curvilinear feature shown on modern mapping.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV11931Article in Serial: Renn, D. F.. 1959. Mottes. A Classification. Antiquity. 33. Unknown. 110.
SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 427.
SDV230739Schedule Document: Ancient Monuments. 1989. 1002506. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Unbound.
SDV230740Report - Survey: Ancient Monuments. 1956. Lydford Ringwork.
SDV230753National Monuments Record Database: National Monument Record. 2013. 440695. National Monuments Record Database. Website. OSA SX58SW13, Plan.
SDV230756Article in Serial: Wilson, D. M. + Hurst, D. G.. 1965. Interim Report. Medieval Archaeology. 9. Unknown. 194.
SDV230757Article in Serial: Wilson, D. M. + Hurst, D. G.. 1966. Plan/Interim Report. Medieval Archaeology. 10. Unknown. 196-7.
SDV230758Article in Serial: Wilson, D. M. + Hurst, D. G.. 1967. Interim Report. Medieval Archaeology. 11. Unknown. 263.
SDV230761Report - Interim: Addyman, P. V.. 1963. Interim Report on 1963 Excavations.
SDV230763Report - Interim: Addyman, P. V.. 1965. 3rd Interim Report.
SDV230769Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. 2386. CPE/UK/1995. Photograph (Paper).
SDV230773Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 1989. Timber Castles - A Reassessment. Fortress. 1. Unknown. 60.
SDV230775Correspondence: Department of National Heritage. 1997. Scheduled Monument Consent letter. Dated 15/8/1997.
SDV230776Correspondence: Department of National Heritage. 1997. Scheduled Monument Consent letter.
SDV230800Un-published: Addyman, P. V.. 1963-1964. Second Interim Report. Digital.
SDV233132Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/CV. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 7-8.
SDV253674Article in Serial: Saunders, A. D.. 1980. Lydford Castle. Medieval Archaeology. 24. Unknown. 123-186.
SDV319854Interpretation: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336189Post-Graduate Thesis: Higham, R. A.. 1979. The Castles of Medieval Devon. University of Exeter Thesis. Unknown. 69,251,317, Figures 10,11, Plate 12,13.
SDV336870Article in Serial: Worth, R. N.. 1879. Lydford and its Castle. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 11. A5 Paperback. 28.
SDV336885Report - Survey: National Trust. 1984. Lydford Gorge. National Trust Archaeological Survey Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 5.
SDV341278Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 1988. Devon Castles: An Annotated List. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 46. Paperback Volume. 143.
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 619, Plan.
SDV350786Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2013. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #81217 ]
SDV351460Report - Assessment: Exeter Archaeology. 2008. Archaeological Assessment of Proposed Sewage Treatment Works at Lydford. Exeter Archaeology. 08.31 (6475). A4 Grip Bound. 6-7.
SDV351489Schedule Document: Ancient Monuments. 1989. Lydford; Ringwork, Castle, Town Banks, Site of Saxon Town and Defences. The Schedule of Monuments.
SDV351534Report - Survey: Newman , P.. 2000. The Town and Castle Earthworks at Lydford. English Heritage. A4 Spiral Bound. 9-11 , Figure 6.
SDV39240Article in Serial: King, D. J. C. + Alcock, L.. 1969. Ringworks of England and Wales. Chateau Gaillard. 3. Unknown. 113.
SDV74000Monograph: Renn, D. F.. 1973. Norman Castles in Britain. Norman Castles in Britain. Unknown. 235-6.

Associated Monuments

MDV14322Related to: Hut to west of St Petrock's Church in Lydford (Monument)
MDV14312Related to: Lydford Castle (Monument)
MDV14320Related to: Lydford Castle, Linear Earthwork (Monument)
MDV21796Related to: Medieval Borough of Lydford (Monument)
MDV104685Related to: Promontory Hillfort to the east of Lydford (Monument)
MDV14321Related to: Saxon Burh at Lydford (Monument)
MDV14318Related to: Saxon Defences west of Lydford (Monument)
MDV3256Related to: St Petrock's Church, Lydford (Building)

Associated Finds

  • FDV5949 - COIN (XI to XII - 1100 AD to 1199 AD)
  • FDV5950 - SHERD (XI to XII - 1100 AD to 1199 AD)

Associated Events

  • EDV6171 - Archaeological Assessment of Proposed Sewage Treatment Works at Lydford (Ref: 08.31)
  • EDV6180 - The Town and Castle Earthworks at Lydford

Date Last Edited:Dec 12 2017 5:02PM