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LONGTOWN CASTLE

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  EWIAS LACY CASTLE
DESCRIPTION + /

The remains of Longtown Castle (known as Ewias Lacy Castle in the medieval period). The remains of the motte and bailey castle stand in a prominent location on a spur of ground between two river valleys. There is some evidence to suggest the castle occupies a former Iron Age enclosure and/or Roman camp. The site may also have been occupied in the 10th century. The Domesday Book of 1086 records the land as belonging to the Lacey family.

Welsh attacks were frequent from the late 12th century, and the timber structure on top of the motte (mound) may be the 'new castle' referred to in Pipe Rolls in 1187. Between 1216 and 1231 the stone keep and bailey were built to improve the defences. The keep is of rare round shape, with walls 5 metres thick. It was a two-storey structure over an undercroft, with living accommodation on the upper floor. Notable features include the windows, possibly enlarged in the 14th century, a fireplace, corbels to support floor beams, and a projecting seven-seat latrine. The exterior originally had three semicircular projecting towers, one with a chimney flue, and another with a spiral stair. The curtain wall dates to the 13th century.

Henry III visited Ewias Lacy in 1233 and ordered the lords of the area to attack his enemies and prepare their castles for sieges. At Walter Lacey's death in 1234 the castle passed through several families into the 15th century, none of whom lived at the castle, leaving it to fall into decay. In 1403 Henry IV ordered the castle to be refortified against the Welsh. The name Longtown derives from a planned medieval market town outside the castle ramparts; however, it was not a success and gradually declined into the small village existing today. The castle is in the care of English Heritage.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the English Heritage website.