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LYDFORD NORMAN EARTHWORKS

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  LYDFORD NORMAN CASTLE
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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 (see associated record). 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.

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