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Longtown Castle, Longtown

SMR Number
: 1036
Grid Reference
: SO 321 291
Parish
: LONGTOWN, HEREFORDSHIRE

Rectangular enclosure c3 acres with motte at NW angle on which circ keep. Ground slopes away on all sides except N (further ewks). W half of encl divided roughly into 2 parts of which N formed inner bailey & S the outer bailey. Inner bailey bounded by curtain wall. on NE, E & S sides with entrance gateway in S wall. Appears to have no wall along W. General fortifications appear to be post conquest but suggested that site of Roman camp, evid to support this. Keep & remains of well to inner bailey together with remains of S gateway are all late C12 - E C13. Keep now ruins, was 2 storeys. L C12 - EC13 but windows appear to have been altered later, poss C14, v full description. (1)
Excavation by Jarrett & Jones suggest that earthwork NW of bailey is med, bank of clay 9m wide with rough stone structure on inner side. No ditch within 7m of bank on NE side. (5)
A m & b as described, set within SW half of strong nearly square univallate earthwork. No date found to date this to Roman period. But its position on the end of ridge in v commanding position & large proportions of its rampart strongly suggest it to be IA 'C' ridge end fort. Measures overall 150m NE-SW x 135m & comprises rampart up to 20m width & 3.5m height, with outer ditch up to 10m wide & 1m depth. Ditch extant on NE side but elsewhere fragmentary or missing. Orig entrance midway along SE side the adaption of SW half of earthwork to a m & b required the heightening, by scarping of the outer slopes of the rampart to height of 5-6m & levelling of inner slopes to saucer like depressions within the 2 baileys, with the motte built up at the W corner to 11m. Original entrance probably deepened at this time into a ditch which was taken round the NE side of the baileys and motte and which now appears as an unsurveyable depression (7)
Watching brief in carpark (SO3220 2907) established that the SE side of it was composed of made up ground, & that field to NE within scheduled area does not contain arch deposits, nor has it been intensively cultivated over the years. Current use grassland 3. (8)
Sketch 1864, was earlier times designated Ewyas Lacy or Clodock Castle. No doubt that the Romans had occupied the site for military purposes. Will Fitz Osbern - Lacys- Verduns-Despencers- Beauchamp (Neville). Mr Bodley Architect, considers keep built prior to conquest & there is little doubt that the site had been occupied for military purposes from the time of the Romans, who established their strangely entrenched camp ... Outer wall of mould & stone raised to height of at least 20', enclosed about 100 square yards. In NW angle a keep stood somewhat higher than the wall, a circ tower o of which a greater portion remains, having 3 round butresses or turrets ar equal distances & between these many circ apertures for windows. Nr the top of keep there is a proj latrine, v curious & perfect & over 1 of the windows of later insertion some roses have been carved. (9)
Watching brief on remedial works - the area outside the castle wall was cleared of material which had been dumped there over a period of time. The majority of the area which was cleared fell within the ruins of a stone structure that had been built against the outside of the castle wall. (11)
Excavation revealed existence of a further room below the main chamber. Part of the surface of the motte was examined but there was no evidence of a timber structure. The top of the tower construction trench was noted in two places with ashlar walls set on foots of pitched and vertically-set rubble. Evidence suggests that the great tower had partially subsided into the motte. The storage room below the main chamber was refloored in the post medieval period. Only evidence for Roman occupation a mention in Kelly's Directory 1905 referring to Roman finds in E bailey in 1869. This could have been medieval and the complete absence of any other evidence suggests it did not have Roman origins. The rectangular fort like shape is a product of expansion over time and medieval. The motte and west bailey were the first elements constructed early post Conquest, the E bailey followed and then the enclosure to the N. The bailey may have been a protected area for cavalry. The road through the bailey was later. The great tower was 12th C, the curtain wall 13th C. By the 16th C the name of Longtown first occurs. The tower continued to be used into the 16th and 17th C, the date of features in the basement. (12)
Members of the archaeology section of the Woolhope Club visited the site on 19/03/78. R.E Kay has included an article on the castle giving details on the remaining earthworks and structures and a brief history of the site. (13) LP Moore met with an Ordnance Survey team engaged upon the re-survey of ancient monuments in Herefordshire (05/09/1972). The information gained from the survey has led them to believe that earlier suggestions that the castle had been superimposed upon an earlier defended site were well based. (14)
New scheduling information greatly extends the SAM area to include areas to the north and south. (15)
Report on the excavations carried out by J. Nicholls in 1978 within the great tower. The aim was to record and clear the interior of the great tower of collapsed masonry and post medieval additions before the commencement of restoration work. A detailed description of the work is given. Photographs and illustrations are included and documentary information on Longtown Castle and its history. Finds were few, some medieval and post medieval pottery sherds and clay pipe fragments. Further work on the finds was not thought to be worthwhile. A complete sandstone quern was also noted. No evidence for Roman origins. (16)
There is little doubt that the motte of Ewyas Lacy Castle was built on an earlier sub-square enclosure wich served as the bailey of the earthwork castle. The earlier feature could be anything from Iron Age to late Saxon. Full history and description of site. (19)
2003 black and white aerial photograph catalogue, C. Musson (20) (21) (22)
Site visit, documentary research, description and interpretation as part of PhD research by Neil Phillips. (23)
Watching brief during excavation of a post hole for an electricty pole encountered no archaeological deposits. (24)
Chris Musson's 2003 colour slide aerial photograph catalogue. (25) (26) (27) (28) (29) (30) (31) (32) (33)
Chris Musson's 2006 colour negative aerial photograph catalogue. (34) (35) (36) (37) (38) (39)
Scheduled Monument Consent granted on 8 October 2012 to Herefordshire Council for excavation of hole for single large-based post for warning sign, to be erected on existing highway verge. (40)
Description of the castle and a note on its history. (41)
Proposals for display panels in 1989 (42)
Longtown & District Historical Society successfully applied for a Heritage Lottery Grant in order to run a community project, researching the historic and archaeological development of Longtown and Ponthendre Castles over three years. Both castles were subjected to Structure from Motion 3D scanning by Remotely Piloted Aircraft in this case a Drone. Ponthendre was subjected to additional earthwork survey in order to record profiles of rampart and ditch.
Two trenches were excavated within the eastern bailey at Longtown Castle. Trench 1 was excavated across the northern terminal of a post-medieval gap in the rampart. This provided a stepped section through the rampart showing that the base and core of the rampart was constructed of turf stacked directly onto natural bedrock. No artefactual evidence was forthcoming from this turf suggesting that the rampart was constructed prior to any settlement in the environs. The geomorphology and the presence of small quantities of pottery present within the upper rampart deposits suggests that the rampart was added to and heightened during the late 13th or 14th century. The second trench provided evidence of a series of working surfaces associated with the construction of at least two phases of building ranging from the early 13th century through to the 14th century. It is suggested that this represents the “builder’s yard” during the construction of the inner bailey wall and gatehouse.
Interim evidence at Longtown suggests that the square rampart was the first development of the site but whether this was pre conquest is at present unclear. Trench two has shown two distinct phases of use, one in the 12th to 14th centuries and an earlier one which will be investigated during the 2017 season. (43)

Monument Type(s)

  1. MOTTE AND BAILEY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  2. HILLFORT? (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  3. CASTLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Files

Sources and Further Reading

  1. <5> SHE10128 - Bibliographic reference: Med Arch. 1966. Medieval Britain 1965. 10,199.
  2. <2> SHE10741 - Bibliographic reference: Pevsner, N. 1963. Herefordshire. The Buildings of England. 241.
  3. <9> SHE11721 - Bibliographic reference: Robinson, Rev C J. 1867. The Castles of Herefordshire and Their Lords.
  4. <4> SHE12648 - Bibliographic reference: Stanford, S C. 1965. Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club. XXXVIII,156.
  5. <18> SHE14023 - Unpublished Report: Brown, D L. 1991. Watching brief at Longtown Castle (HWCM 1036).. Worcestershire Archaeological Service.
  6. <16> SHE14172 - Bibliographic reference: Ellis, Peter. 1997. Longtown Castle: a report on excavations by J Nicholls, 1978. Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club. XLIX Part I. XLIX 1997 Part I. Pages 64-84.
  7. <12> SHE14377 - Bibliographic reference: Ellis, P. 1997. Longtown Castle: A report on excavations by J Nicholls, 1978. Woolhope NFC Vol XLIX Part 1 64-84. Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club.
  8. <11> SHE14852 - Unpublished Report: Appleton-Fox, N. 1995. Longtown Castle, Longtown, Herefordshire. A Watching Brief on Remedial Works. City of Hereford Archaeology Unit. 234.
  9. <42> SHE14879 - Unpublished Report: Morriss, R K & Shoesmith, R. 01/1989. The Borough of Longtown. Proposals For Display Panels.. City of Hereford Archaeology Unit. 44.
  10. <17> SHE14905 - Unpublished Report: Morriss, R.K. and, Williams, R.. 1991. Longtown, Herefordshire. Notes on the History of Longtown, or Ewias Lacy, and the Structural Development of its Castle. City of Hereford Archaeology Unit. 104.
  11. <13> SHE15686 - Serial: Attfield, C E (ed). 1978. Herefordshire Archaeological News No. 35. Woolhope Club Archaeological Research Section. 35. Pages 3/8.
  12. <14> SHE15713 - Serial: Shoesmith, R (ed). 1973. Herefordshire Archaeological News No 26. Woolhope Club Archaeological Research Section. 26. Pages 6.
  13. <15> SHE15997 - Scheduling record: English Heritage. 06/07/2004. Scheduled Monument description; Longtown Castle and town. unpublished information.
  14. <19> SHE16527 - Unpublished Report: English Heritage. 2003. Longtown, Herefordshire. English Heritage Investigation Report.
  15. <20> SHE16892 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 31/08/2003. 03-MB-1398. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2003. Oblique. B/W.
  16. <21> SHE16893 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 31/08/2003. 03-MB-1399. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2003. Oblique. B/W.
  17. <22> SHE16894 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 31/08/2003. 03-MB-1400. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2003. Oblique. B/W.
  18. <24> SHE17175 - Unpublished Report: Craddock-Bennett, Luke. 06/2007. Land adjacent to 'The Court House', Longtown, Herefordshire. Archaeological Watching Brief. Archaeological Investigations Ltd. 756.
  19. <23> SHE17327 - Bibliographic reference: Phillips, Neil. 2006. The Earthwork Castles of Gwent and Ergyng AD 1050 - 1250. PhD Thesis.
  20. <25> SHE17647 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 31/08/2003. 03-C-1287. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2003. Oblique. Colour Slide.
  21. <26> SHE17648 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 31/08/2003. 03-C-1288. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2003. Oblique. Colour Slide.
  22. <27> SHE17649 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 31/08/2003. 03-C-1289. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2003. Oblique. Colour Slide.
  23. <28> SHE17650 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 31/08/2003. 03-C-1290. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2003. Oblique. Colour Slide.
  24. <29> SHE17651 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 31/08/2003. 03-C-1291. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2003. Oblique. Colour Slide.
  25. <30> SHE17652 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 31/08/2003. 03-C-1292. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2003. Oblique. Colour Slide.
  26. <31> SHE17653 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 31/08/2003. 03-C-1293. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2003. Oblique. Colour Slide.
  27. <32> SHE17654 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 31/08/2003. 03-C-1294. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2003. Oblique. Colour Slide.
  28. <33> SHE17655 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 31/08/2003. 03-C-1296. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2003. Oblique. Colour Slide.
  29. <34> SHE17840 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 03/03/2006. 06-CN-0325. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2006. Oblique. Colour Print. Digital.
  30. <35> SHE17845 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 03/03/2006. 06-CN-0328. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2006. Oblique. Colour Print. Digital.
  31. <36> SHE17846 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 03/03/2006. 06-CN-0329. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2006. Oblique. Colour Print. Digital.
  32. <37> SHE17848 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 03/03/2006. 06-CN-0330. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2006. Oblique. Colour Print. Digital.
  33. <38> SHE17849 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 03/03/2006. 06-CN-0331. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2006. Oblique. Colour Print. Digital.
  34. <39> SHE17850 - Aerial Photograph: Musson, C R. 03/03/2006. 06-CN-0332. Herefordshire Aerial Archaeological Survey 2006. Oblique. Colour Print. Digital.
  35. <40> SHE18829 - Document: English Heritage. 2012. Letter granting Scheduled Monument Consent for proposed works at Longtown Castle and Town, Longtown.
  36. <41> SHE19056 - Article in serial: Kay, R E. 1978. "Longtown Castle", Herefordshire Archaeological News, No. 35, 1978. 8-10.
  37. <3> SHE2235 - Bibliographic reference: Walters, H B. 1908. Romano-British Herefordshire (pp 167-199). The Victoria History of the County of Hereford edited by William Page, Vol I. I,242.
  38. <43> SHE23874 - Unpublished Report: Hoverd, T. 2016. Longtown Castles Project: A Community Archaeology Project. Archaeological investigation and recording during 2016: An interim report.. Herefordshire Archaeology. HAR 364.
  39. <1> SHE350 - Bibliographic reference: Royal Commission on Historical Monuments. 1931. Inventory of Monuments, Herefordshire South-West, Vol I. Herefordshire South-West, Vol 1. I,182.
  40. <7> SHE6037 - Bibliographic reference: Ordnance Survey Record Card. 1972. SO32NW1. Ordnance Survey.
  41. <8> SHE8109 - Unpublished Report: Edwards, Rachel. 1989. Watching Brief at Longtown.. HWCC Archaeological Service.
  42. <6> SHE9618 - Document: Kay, R. 1952. Typewritten Notes on Longtown Castle.

Associated events

Protected status

  1. Scheduled Monument 28886: LONGTOWN CASTLE AND TOWN

Associated Historic Landscape Character Records

  1. HHE393 - Contour Defined Enclosure - Axially Aligned Enclosure