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Tower keep castle on Little Camp Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Lydney, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.7197 / 51°43'11"N

Longitude: -2.555 / 2°33'17"W

OS Eastings: 361756.656666

OS Northings: 202478.75582

OS Grid: SO617024

Mapcode National: GBR JS.2VBS

Mapcode Global: VH87H.N1MH

Entry Name: Tower keep castle on Little Camp Hill

Scheduled Date: 14 December 1950

Last Amended: 17 May 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017372

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28869

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Lydney

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Lydney St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The monument includes a tower keep castle situated on a hilltop above the
floodplain of the River Severn. Natural steep slopes 15m to 20m high have been
utilised as defensive barriers on the north, south and west sides. On the east
side the ground slopes more gently, and fortifications are at their strongest
here. The castle has a keep and inner bailey with an outer bailey to its
east. The keep is now a raised area in the north east quadrant of the inner
bailey and stands up to 1.5m high. The stones of the keep protrude from the
area which is now covered with soil. Just to the south of the keep is a gap in
the defences about 2m wide which marks the entrance to the inner bailey. The
level ground of the inner bailey forms an irregular 30m square with turf banks
2m high surrounding it. On its east side, separating it from the outer bailey,
is a ditch 2m wide and 0.5m deep. The outer bailey forms a rough triangle,
with its base to the north and apex to the south, measuring 30m east-west and
40m north-south. The outer bailey is protected by a bank and ditch on its
north side where the bank is about 1m high and the ditch 2m wide and 0.5m
deep. Elsewhere the outer bailey is protected by the natural slope of the
Excavation by D A Casey in 1929 showed that the earth bank around the inner
bailey consists of fallen rubble which covers the remains of walls and towers.
Despite some stone robbing the castle was found to be complete in plan
including the rectangular keep which measured 30ft by 23ft 6in (9.2m by 7.2m)
inside, and 57ft by 50ft (17.4m by 15.3m) at the base outside. A gate tower
was found at the entrance and another tower at the south west angle of the
castle walls. In the inner bailey, where the curtain wall joins the keep, a
small annex had been added later, and an oven alongside the annex. To the
south of the oven a circular depression was found which proved to be an iron
extraction pit contemporary with the castle, or possibly earlier. The pit was
not completely excavated by Casey, but excavation was stopped at 7ft (2.2m)
where pottery of the same type as other pottery from the site was found.
There is no documentary evidence for the date of the castle's construction,
but Casey, considering the type and construction, dated it to between 1100 and
1189 AD. Although there is no direct record of the ownership of the castle, in
the Domesday Survey it is recorded that William Fitz Osbern, Earl of Hereford,
made a manor at Lydney. Casey considers that this manor almost certainly
included Little Camp Hill. After 1075 Lydney reverted to the Crown. In 1201
there was a dispute between the bishop of Winchester and Walern of Newburgh,
Earl of Warwick, over land held by the Earl at Lydney. Casey interprets this
to have been Lydney manor including the site of the castle. The Romano-British
temple complex 250m to the north west is the subject of a separate scheduling.
The feeder troughs in the inner bailey are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A tower keep castle is a strongly fortified residence in which the keep is the
principal defensive feature. The keep may be free-standing or surrounded by a
defensive enclosure; they are normally square in shape, although other shapes
are known. Internally they have several floors providing accommodation of
various types. If the keep has an attached enclosure this will normally be
defined by a defensive wall, frequently with an external ditch. Access into
the enclosure was provided by a bridge across the ditch, allowing entry via a
gatehouse. Additional buildings, including stabling for animals and workshops,
may be found within the enclosure. Tower keep castles were built throughout
the medieval period, from immediately after the Norman Conquest to the mid-
15th century, with a peak in the middle of the 12th century. A few were
constructed on the sites of earlier earthwork castle types but most were new
creations. They provided strongly fortified residences for the king or leading
families and occur in both urban or rural situations. Tower keep castles are
widely dispersed throughout England with a major concentration on the Welsh
border. They are rare nationally with only 104 recorded examples. Considerable
diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With
other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to
the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative
centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles
generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a
valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and
defence, and to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples retaining
significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally

Previously interpreted as a motte and bailey castle, the tower keep castle on
Little Camp Hill at Lydney survives well in an impressive setting on a
hilltop. The castle benefits from a depth of soil cover, which provides
additional protection for the archaeological remains. Despite partial
excavation in 1929-30, the monument survives well and retains much potential
for the study of the history and development of the castle, and for the study
of environmental evidence relating to the castle and the wider landscape. In
addition there is the opportunity for investigation into the use of the site
prior to the construction of the castle.
It is sometimes the case that tower keep castles have been constructed within
Romano-British sites as at Porchester and Pevensey, and with a Romano-British
temple complex only 250m away to the north west, there is the possibility of a
relationship between the two sites.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Casey, D A, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Lydney Castle, , Vol. 11, (1931), 242-246
Casey, D A, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Lydney Castle, , Vol. 11, (1931), 246-251
Casey, D A, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Lydney Castle, , Vol. 11, (1931), 244

Source: Historic England

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