Mediaeval Pottery Site
There has not been that many findings of mediaeval activity
around the Lyneham area but signs of a possible mediaeval
pottery site could have existed owing to Kiln ash, iron slag,
and quantities of mediaeval Sherds of the 13th and 14th centuries
date being discovered when house foundations were being laid
in Farthing Lane, Lyneham (SU/023789).
Many of the sherds were obvious wasters and suggest that
pottery kilns existed hereabouts in mediaeval times, but so
far no evidence of kiln structures has come to light. A small
type series of sherds has been deposited in Devizes Museum
through the kindness of the owner of the site.
It has been recorded that the Romans used to frequently travel
from Colchester Essex, the UK's oldest recorded town, to visit
the roman town of Bath. There has been some oyster shells
being found at Bradford-on-Avon
in a few of the mediaeval buildings, possibly indicating the
travellers passed through this area and left their food feast
A further interesting object was also recovered from the
same area. This consisted of a small lead disc, roughly, bun-shaped
and measuring 3 in. in diameter, with a maximum thickness
of 4-1 in. It is pierced, presumably for suspension the hole,
which has a maximum diameter of ¼ in., has been pushed
through from the back.
A roughly circular area, 2 in. in diameter is slightly sunk
below the top surface of the disc, and bears a crude and apparently
meaningless device. This comprises a single arm or stein ¼
in. thick extending across the diameter of the recess; from
it radiate at right angles, and on the same-side, two smaller
arms each ½in long, and about ¼in wide. Two
further arms of similar length and thickness radiate from
the circumference in the other half of the recess towards
the central stein and roughly at right angles to it. The back
of the disc is flat and quite plain. A group of seven sharply
scored lines, parallel to each other and each about ¼in
apart is visible on its edge.
The purpose of the disc can only be a matter for speculation
unless it was intended as a sort of rough potter's mark. It
remains in the possession of Mr. L. V. R. Keniston, of The
Bungalow, Farthing Lane, Lyneham. Site details have also been
recorded on the Ordnance Survey 6in. maps.
There is little visible evidence of early settlement in the
parish, although the name 'Barrow
End' applied to an area
immediately north-west of Lyneham village, suggests prehistoric
activity there. Roman coins have been found near the site
of Bradenstoke Priory and a hoard of Constantinian coins appeared
at an unlocated area in the parish. An extended skeleton of
unknown date was found near West Preston Farm.
Lyneham Camp, a motte-and-bailey earthwork of possibly Norman
date, lies in the north of the parish by Hillocks Wood. Clack
Mount, a Norman earthwork, rises on the Corallian ridge at
its highest point behind alternate Bradenstoke Farm
Motte and Bailey
Earthwork castles fall into two main types,
mottes and ringworks. The former are usually associated with
one or more baileys or courtyards, whilst a ringwork generally
stands in isolation. The term "enclosure" is preferred
by some with regard to ringworks, but "ringwork"
is now an accepted term for this type of castle.
A motte is an enditched mound, usually artificial, which
supported the strong point of the motte-and-bailey castle,
overshadowing the bailey or enclosed courtyard below. It is
predominantly rounded in plan. The height of mottes varies
greatly, the majority being under 5m, although a few of the
sites built in the years immediately following the Norman
Conquest are well known for having some of the largest castle
mounds in the country.
A bailey could vary in both shape and size, and a castle
could have more than one. There are, however, some mottes
which never seem to have had an attached courtyard. We cannot
be certain why this should be, but some mottes may have been
built as fortified observation posts rather than for permanent
occupation. Another reason might be that a motte without a
bailey represents an unfinished castle.
Ringworks could vary in form, but were generally circular
earthworks, each consisting of a bank and ditch, or they might
be D-shaped where a natural scarp formed part of the defences,
which is evident with the Hillocks Wood siting using the escarpment
facing north . A simple definition might be that a ringwork
is a motte-and-bailey without the motte, and as its rampart
could enclose a large area, these castles did not always have
an additional bailey.
Generally a ringwork must have been quicker and cheaper to
throw up than a motte-and-bailey, and this factor undoubtedly
accounts for such defences being built when some castles were
first constructed in England and Wales. In these cases where
the Normans utilised earlier fortifications, such as Roman
defences and Anglo-Saxon burhs or defended towns, in the immediate
post-conquest period, ringworks seem to have predominated.
It cannot be a coincidence that when the Normans were endeavouring
to extend their hold on south Wales in the early 12th century,
many of the castles were ringworks. Coity, Ogmore and Loughor
in Glamorgan, Kidwelly, Llansteffan and probably Laugharne
in Carmarthenshire are all good examples of this use of ringwork
construction. Here the Normans, during their advance and occupation,
were deliberately constructing what they considered to be
a quick and effective form of castle.
A manor was an estate held by and the principle dwelling house
for a lord. Most of the time, the lands surrounding the manor
were farmed and taken care of by people who owed the lord
money or service.
Manors were sometimes given a kind of defense, whether it
be a ditch, moat, or palisade. This was to protect them from
damage from animals or being taken by an enemy. There were
very few fortified manors before the 12th century, but by
the 13th and 14th centuries it was becoming common for the
King to grant licenses to crenellate.
Many private houses were fortified during this time frame,
some to such an extent that they became known as castles.
One early fortified manor house was Stokesay Castle. Fortifications
were made by Lawrence de Ludlow, after receiving a license
to crenellate in 1291. A moat surrounded the castle and the
enclosing walls were 30 feet high.
Another foritified manor is Weobley Castle, located on the
Gower Peninsula in Wales. It was built by David de la Bere
in the 14th century, and had walls 7 feet thick. There was
a keep, hall, chapel, and other features that you would expect
to see in a castle.
It is believed that Thornbury Castle was the last fortified
manor to be built in England. Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham,
began building it in 1511, without a license. Stafford was
executed in 1521 and the castle was never completed. It was
taken over by King Henry VIII who transformed it into a palace.
A license to crenellate did not mean that fortifications
were ever built, nor do they indicate the actual date that
a manor was fortified. Many lords received multiple licenses
to fortify their houses, but they were never modified or built.
Bishop Wyvill of Salisbury, for example, received licences
for his house in Salisbury, four manors in Wiltshire, two
in Dorset, and One in Berkshire. None of the structures he
built or modified were defensible nor fortified.