HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.

HER Number:MDV3242
Name:Town Defences to north and east of Lydford


Town defences to north and east of Lydford of Late Saxon date and re-used in Norman period


Grid Reference:SX 511 847
Map Sheet:SX58SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishLydford
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX58SW/51
  • Old SAM County Ref: 392
  • Old SAM Ref: SX58SW3

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LINEAR EARTHWORK (VIII to Late Medieval - 701 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

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

'Wall (Site of)' shown on 19th century map.

Ralegh Radford, C. A., 1947, Lydford Castle (Pamphlet). SDV336888.

Scross the promontory (from Grid Reference SX50988491 to SX51178474) the earthwork consists of a single bank with steep outer face and gentle back slope. On the town side, a narrow lane represents an original feature. No trace of an outer ditch.

Addyman, P. V., 1963, Lydford Saxon Town, Devon. Interim Report on 1963 Excavations (Report - Interim). SDV230761.

Excavation of a section of the town bank revealed the impression of a freestanding post, perhaps part of a palisade, a turf 12 foot high bank, a granite and rubble facing inserted into the outerface of bank and three ditches. The only dating evidence was two sherds of 11th century pottery from the inner ditch.

Wilson, D. M. + Hurst, D. G., 1964, Interim Report, 232 (Article in Serial). SDV215102.

Timms, S. C., 1981, Lydford Defences, 6th October (Worksheet). SDV215100.

The defences which cross the neck of the promontory are now in the guardianship of the Department of the Environment.

Department of Environment, 1987, Lydford Town Defences, 6th May (Correspondence). SDV215103.

Scheduled Monument Consent granted on 6th May 1987 for minor excavations and repairs.

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

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

Site Number 20428 - 392d - Town Banks: Earthworks to the north and east of Lydford village extending across the promontory from the Lyd valley on the south to the tributary cleave on the north-west. One section runs north-west to south-east to the valley edge from the scarp and the other continues to the south-west towards the earthworks of Lydford castle and the site to the west of it, an old wall with modern road driven through. Grass grown bank extending across Lydford promontory, the village street bisects it at a possible site of an original gate. Prominent bank up to 3 metres high running generally north-west to south-east. North-west section circa 120 metres long and south-east section 150 metres and leading to site fo former South Gate. Track to north inside bank under lane to the south.

Newman, P., 2000, The Town and Castle Earthworks at Lydford, 4-7 Figures 2, 4, 5, 8 (Report - Survey). SDV351534.

The pre-conquest town defences at Lydford consist of earthwork ramparts which truncate the promontory and divide it from the flatter land to the north-east. The rampart is now in two sections divided by a 25 metre gap where the road gives access to the village. The southern section of bank is the larger measuring up to 30 metres wide at the base and approximately 4 metres high. The northern section of rampart appears less substantial. There is no evidence of an external ditch on any part of the rampart although excavation has shown the former existence of two shallow ditches.

National Monuments Record, 2013, 440671, SX58SW3 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV233012.

The Saxon burh of Hlidan, the town now known as Lydford, lies on a wedge-shaped promontory, isolated on the south and west by the deep gorge of the Lyd and on the north-west by a very steep sided tributory valley. Finds uncovered during excavation have included Imported Mediterranean Ware, which may indicate there was an earlier post Roman settlement here. During the reign of Alfred the Great (AD 871-99) it is believed that the town was chosen, on account of its great natural strength, to form a unit in the scheme of national defence. It is claimed that it proved an effective barrier to Danish raiders in AD 997 and subsequently became a populous burh, with a mint which issued silver pennies continuously from the reign of Ethelred II (AD 976-1016) to that of Edward the Confessor (AD 1042-1066). The location of the town on a promontory meant that it required little artificial fortification except for the north-east sector. At this position there still remains a large curvilinear earthwork rampart, separating the original settlement off from the flatter land to the north-east. The rampart is in two sections with a 25 metre gap in the centre, which is thought to be the original entrance to the settlement, though it would have been much narrower in earlier times. There may well have been an external ditch to the rampart.

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

'Wall (course of)' shown on modern mapping.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV215100Worksheet: Timms, S. C.. 1981. Lydford Defences. 6th October.
SDV215102Article in Serial: Wilson, D. M. + Hurst, D. G.. 1964. Interim Report. Medieval Archaeology. 8. Unknown. 232.
SDV215103Correspondence: Department of Environment. 1987. Lydford Town Defences. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. 6th May.
SDV230739Schedule Document: Ancient Monuments. 1989. 1002506. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Unbound.
SDV230761Report - Interim: Addyman, P. V.. 1963. Lydford Saxon Town, Devon. Interim Report on 1963 Excavations. Digital.
SDV233012National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2013. 440671. National Monuments Record Database. Website. SX58SW3.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336888Pamphlet: Ralegh Radford, C. A.. 1947. Lydford Castle. Ministry or Works Pamphlet. Unknown.
SDV350786Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2013. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #87464 ]
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. 4-7 Figures 2, 4, 5, 8.

Associated Monuments

MDV130576Related to: Former Bible Christian Chapel, Lydford (Building)
MDV14320Related to: Lydford Castle, Linear Earthwork (Monument)
MDV21796Related to: Medieval Borough of Lydford (Monument)
MDV5594Related to: Outer Defensive Bank to north and east of Lydford (Monument)
MDV14152Related to: Road south-east of Lydford Village (Monument)
MDV14321Related to: Saxon Burh at Lydford (Monument)
MDV14318Related to: Saxon Defences west of Lydford (Monument)
MDV3179Related to: Saxon Mint at Lydford (Monument)
MDV3249Related to: The South Gate, Lydford (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FDV5851 - SHERD (X to XI - 1000 AD to 1100 AD)

Associated Events

  • EDV6171 - Archaeological Assessment of Proposed Sewage Treatment Works at Lydford (Ref: 08.31)
  • EDV6180 - Survey of the Town and Castle Earthworks at Lydford
  • EDV7063 - Watching brief on replacement of electricity pole on land at South Gate, Lydford (Ref: ACD1416)

Date Last Edited:Apr 27 2021 11:57AM