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Longtown Castle

Visited September 2019

Location Longtown, Herefordshire
Entrance Fee No 
Railway Station Nearby No 
Parking Roadside
Facilities None
Map

 

A small but interesting castle in rural Herefordshire. Located in Longtown- a tiny village near the Welsh border. 

 


 

 

 

Review

 

Now we love a good lane as much as the next person but the approach to this castle from pretty much all directions involves some excruciatingly narrow lanes. You just have to just cross your fingers and hope you don't meet a tractor head on!

 

Having said that, once you have arrived this is a lovely little castle to while away some time. It is comprised of some curtain walling, the ruins of a gatehouse and the remains of a circular keep. There are also the remains of a rectangular rampart and ditch, which were constructed by the Romans. They added a wooden stockade and used it as a base to control the troublesome Silures tribe who were not keen to co-operate with the Roman conquerors.

 

The ramparts and ditch were next called into service 1000 years later when an army led by Harold Godwinson (later to be King Harold of England) camped within them whilst pursuing a Welsh army who had been looting throughout Herefordshire. They raised the height of the ramparts and increased the size of the ditches while they were there.

 


 

 


 

This was fortunate for the Norman invaders, as once they had dealt King Harold and his army they turned their attention to conquering Wales . The Norman Lord sent to the area was Walter de Lacey, and he reused the ramparts to build the first castle. He raised a motte in one corner of the site and added a wooden tower on the top. His grandson Gilbert then rebuilt the tower in stone and surrounded the site in stone walls, resulting in the castle as we see it today.

 

The de Lacey family became very rich, but inevitably overstretched themselves, and the last of the line died in 1241 leaving large debts. The castle was pretty much abandoned from then on, falling into the ruin that we see today.

 

 

 


 

The stone keep still has some interesting details: for example the windows still have some decorative stonework around them, and there are remains of a latrine protruding from the top of the tower. The upper floors are missing so there is no possibility of climbing the tower, but there is a path leading all the way around it for inspecting the whole of the exterior.

 

The castle is at a fairly quiet spot, although the day we were there a group of ramblers came to visit, the area is very picturesque so I would not be surprised if it were a regular stop on many walking group's itinerary.  There is a small community garden with benches next to the entrance to the castle, so if you have brought a picnic that is a good place to eat it. There are no facilities at the castle, but there is a pub just a few minutes walk away if you want to get some refreshments there. 

 

We did a combined visit to Longtown and Kilpeck Castle, it is about a 15 minute drive between the two.

 


 

 


 

More info:  English Heritage Longtown Castle

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