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Parishes: L (castles)

Lea: Castle End, possible castle site

Historic Environment Record reference no. 26893, Ordnance Survey grid reference: SO 6550 2200

Castle End is the place name of an area to the north-east of the parish church, but the exact site of the castle is not known. The Castle End place-names lie either side of a Roman road leading south from Ariconium.

The name Lea comes from the Old English word leah, which means "clearing" (Bruce Coplestone-Crow, Herefordshire Place-Names, British Archaeological Reports British Series 214, 1989, p. 119).

At the time of the Domesday Survey of Herefordshire (1086) Lea was held by the Church as a gift from Walter de Lacy. Before the Norman Conquest it had been held by Ansgot. Lea contained one hide which paid tax, in lordship there was one plough, two slaves and one smallholder. The value was 10s and there was enough land for one more plough. (Frank and Caroline Thorn (eds.), Domesday Book 17: Herefordshire, Phillimore, 1983, 5,2)

Leintwardine: motte and bailey, Kinton

HER no. 15146, OS grid ref: SO 4090 7450

0.4km north-east of the church is a mound 18m in diameter and 2.5m high, the sides of which have a very gentle slope. There are vestiges of a ditch to the north-east, and to the south there is a stream which could have fed a moat. A slight bank may represent the edge of the bailey.

On the south-west side the mound has been cut away to create space for a house.

Leintwardine means "enclosure on the river Lent" and Kinton means "royal estate". Lent may formerly have been the name of the lower Clun. At the time of the Domesday Survey Leintwardine was in the county of Shropshire but was classed as the land of Earl Roger and Ralph of Mortimer. (Bruce Coplestone-Crow, Herefordshire Place-Names, British Archaeological Reports British Series 214, 1989, p. 122)

Leominster: Comfort Castle

HER no. 5248, OS grid ref: SO 5065 5958

On a map from 1754 a demolished castle, thought to have been erected in Saxon times, is marked. The position of this castle is traditionally said to have been on a hill ½ mile east of the town. Traces of earthworks remained c. 1538, according to John Leland, but now there are no remains.

Aerial photographs show an extensive area of disturbed ground at SO 5065 5938.

There is a mound with a ditch on top of Eaton Hill. On its west side the ditch is 1.5m deep, while the mound is 5-6m high. On top is a ruined building of stone with carved lintels. Oaks around 100 years old grow on the edge of the mound.

On the east side, a 20th century cement-lined reservoir has dug away at the mound.

John Leland (the King's antiquary) wrote in 1538 that tradition had it that the Saxon King Merwald or some of his successors had a palace or castle on a hill some ½ mile from Leominster called Comfort Castle, where "there be some tokens of ditches where buildings have been".

This site can no longer be identified.

History of Comfort Castle

At the time of the Domesday Survey Leominster was held by Queen Edith, along with 16 other manors. These 17 manors made up some 80 hides with 30 ploughs. There were also eight reeves, eight beadles, eight riding men and 238 villagers. There were eight mills at 73s, and the woodland paid 24s and pasture dues. The king had 60 hides in lordship, which held six priests, six riders, seven reeves, seven beadles, 81 smallholders, 25 slaves and 224 villagers. Each villager who had ten pigs gave one in pasture dues. (Frank and Caroline Thorn, Domesday Book 17: Herefordshire, 1,10a, Phillimore, 1983)

Leysters: castle mound

HER no. 2522, OS grid ref: SO 5683 6321

Note: Leysters is sometimes spelled "Laysters".

Nine kilometres north-east of Leominster is a circular mound just south of the 12th century church of St. Andrew at Leysters. The mound is 27m in diameter at the top and rises 2.4m above the ditch. The area is encompassed by a ditch 9m wide and up to 1.1m deep. There is no trace of a bailey.

Excavation in the 19th century produced ash, charcoal and rough stone. There is a possible deserted medieval village to the east.

History of the Leysters site

There are three references to Laysters in the Domesday Book. The first records Laysters in the Wolphy Hundred, Roger of Mussegros holds it. It had been held as two manors by Arketel and Arngrim. There was 1 hide which paid tax, and the value was 4s.  By the time of the Domesday Survey it was waste. (Frank and Caroline Thorn (eds.), Domesday Book 17: Herefordshire, 11,2, Phillimore, 1983)

The second reference records that Laysters was held by Durand of Gloucester and his nephew Walter. There were 2 hides which paid tax, but again it is recorded as waste. (Domesday Book 17: Herefordshire, 22,6)

The third reference says that Edric holds Laysters from the King [William], who held it himself from King Edward. There were 1½ hides which paid tax. The value had been 15s but it was then waste. (Domesday Book 17: Herefordshire, 36,2)

These three references suggest that Laysters was split into more than one manor at the time of the Domesday Survey.

Lingen: mound

HER no. 1666, OS grid ref: SO 3724 6810

North-north-east of the church in Lingen is a mound known locally as "The Churchyard".

It is roughly circular with traces of a bank surrounded by a dry ditch, except on the north where there is a deep gully and stream.

It is approached by a slanting causeway on the south, and on the east there are what may be traces of a small enclosure.

The diameter is c. 40m at the top of the mound, and it rises at most 3.8m above the ditch.

This site is approximately 1.1km north-east of Lingen Castle. It was possibly an early castle site or, more likely, the site of a fortified house.

Little Hereford: manor house and enclosures

HER no. 7009, OS grid ref: SO 5540 6800

Earthworks surrounding, and to the east of, Little Hereford church are said to be those of the house of the Delamere family.

Description of the Little Hereford site today

The site consists of a complex of earthworks, laid against the River Teme. There are two main enclosures represented, formed by ditches up to 2.1m deep with inner banks on the north and east sides.

A motte-like mound on the north bank of the river rises 3.4m from the ditch on the west side. A causeway, 0.4m high, crosses the site from the east side to the east corner of the churchyard.

The complex is defensive, almost certainly early Medieval and probably of manorial origin. It is thought that King Stephen may have camped here in 1140.

Llancillo: motte and bailey

HER no. 1477, OS grid ref: SO 3671 2554

To the east of St. Peter's Church is a circular motte 43m in diameter, surrounded by a dry ditch with outer rampart extending for 20m along the west side and widening at the south end into a slight mound.

Around the top of the mound are traces of rubble walling of a dormer keep or structure, but it is now mostly covered with soil. On either side are traces of scarps and banks, most probably of a later date.

On the north side are scarps enclosing a small stream, which would have possibly formed additional defences.

Forty metres north-west of the motte is a small rectangular mound, about 0.65m high, while in the field on the east side of the stream, 190m east of the motte, is a small portion of deep ditch and traces of banking.

The motte has a soil-covered wall, 1m to 1.3m high, around its summit. The ditch and outer bank are very clear, except where the bank has been removed to drain the ditch.

Surviving masonry reveals a shell keep and the foundations of a building on the extreme west side of the bailey.

The farmer believes that the land has never been ploughed.

The castle is thought to have been built by Richard Esketot, a tenant of the de Lacys of Longtown, around the 1090s.

Llangarron: Trippenkennett Bridge, motte

HER no. 6416, OS grid ref: SO 5030 2218

The site of a moated homestead south-east of Langstone Court and ¾ of a mile north-east of Llangarron parish church.

The site consists of a circular mound, 38m across, which is surrounded by ditches.

The excavation of the medieval homestead at Wallingstones in 1959-63 revealed four possible stages of building:

  1. A ditch system and possible timber buildings, including a first floor hall with undercroft and garderobe tower. Site occupied pre-1250
  2. Mound erected and house built, occupied c. 1250-1300/1325
  3. House abandoned c. 1300-1325
  4. House in use c. 1400-1500, curtain wall probably built and possibly a moat dug
  5. Final destruction after 1500, no features discovered from this period

The finds from the site included pottery and ironwork of the 13th century and a round shield boss, all of which are now in the collections of Hereford Museum.

Llanrothal: Tregate Castle, motte

HER no. 933, OS grid ref: SO 4795 1715

Llanrothal is a parish in the south-west of the county, right on the Welsh border. The motte and bailey of Tregate Castle are on the banks of the River Monnow, close to Tregate Farm.

Description of the Tregate Castle site today

Situated on the south-west end of a spur is a motte with a base of 53m wide. It has a height of 3m on the south-east and 6m on the north-west. It is a roughly circular mound with a slight rampart enclosing the remains of masonry. This masonry probably represents a shell keep. In the walls of the nearby farm are worked stones which may have come from the castle site.

To the south-west is a series of terraces, which formed two or three outer courts of rectangular form. There are traces of a ditch on the north-east side. There are also traces of an outer ditch on the north-west; this ditch probably continued around to the north-east to cut the site off from a ridge top rising to this side.

Adjoining the site on the south is a small bailey, extending 6-12m from the base of the motte.

A box c. 3.3m square was cut on top of the motte and much black medieval pottery was found above the natural clay subsoil. In the north corner of the pit large blocks of tufa were discovered, which may also come from the shell keep. A 10m trench was also dug to cut the foot of the western rampart, but no defensive works were found.

Foundation and history of the Tregate Castle site

It is suggested that this is the site of a 12th century earth and timber castle, probably occupied for no more than 100 years. The present house stands on a corner of the castle motte. This house has architectural features dating from the 14th to 18th centuries, but was probably not much more than a fortified farmhouse.

Longtown: Castlefield, south of Belpha Wood

HER no. 1471, OS grid ref: 3589 2989

Longtown is a parish situated on a spur of ground between the River Monnow and the Olchon Brook, on the Welsh border in the south-west of Herefordshire.

In the Longtown tithe award of 1840, a field called "Castlefield" is mentioned and shown on the map on the parish boundary. In 1845, a "Castlefield" is mentioned in the tithe award for the neighbouring parish of Dulas.

Longtown: Great Hunthouse, mound and ditch

HER no. 1464, OS grid ref: SO 3430 2610

Longtown is a parish situated on a ridge of ground between the River Monnow and the Olchon Brook, on the Welsh border in the south-west of the county.

On the south-east border of Longtown parish, and 250 yards south-south-west of Great Hunthouse Farm, is a roughly oval mound which is partly natural and partly artificial. The site covers ¼ of an acre in extent, including the defences.

The mound has a flat top and is surrounded by a dry ditch, except on the east and north-east where the scarp abuts a small stream. On the south-west of the site the ditches have been infilled. There are traces of an inner rampart on the west side of the mound.

The feature has been severely ploughed and is only vaguely distinguishable from the uneven ground surrounding it.

Longtown: Pont-hendre, castle mound

HER no. 1038, OS grid ref: SO 3256 2812

A small castle work on the banks above the River Olchon, on a spur of foothills of the Black Mountains. A river naturally protects the entrenchment on the north-east. The site consists of a mound 33ft wide, surrounded by a moat with a court protected by a hillside scarped on the north-east and guarded by a rampart on the other sides.

The motte is almost circular, 51 yards diameter at its base and rising 30-40ft above a dry ditch.

There is one irregular crescent-shaped bailey protected by a scarp only, except at junctions with the motte ditch where there are two lengths of rampart, 11ft above the bottom of the ditch.

This is thought to be the site of an earlier castle than that at nearby Longtown, perhaps even the Castelli de Ewias mentioned in the Pipe Rolls of 1187.

Lyonshall: Lewis Wych

HER no. 1162, OS grid ref: SO 3410 5747

A site lying east of The Whittern, partially excavated by the son of a previous owner. Pottery fragments and some possible stone building foundations suggest this as the possible site of a 12th century castle.

The name Lyonshall means "Nook in the district called Leen" (Bruce Coplestone-Crow, Herefordshire Place-Names, British Archaeological Reports British Series 214, 1989, p. 138).

On Bryant's 1835 map of Herefordshire this earthwork is marked as a tump. On the First Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1888 it is marked as an earthwork and quarry. No other historical documentation exists to shed any further light on this site's purpose.