Ludgershall Castle

Longtown Castle - Currently managed by English Heritage, the well-preserved remains of Longtown Castle are accessible to the public year-round. Some information panels are posted on-site, and you can see all of the ruins in under thirty minutes.

Visiting Longtown Castle


Some on-road parking along the access road is available


Free to visit


Longtown Castle is open for public viewing at any reasonable time during daylight

Location & Access

The castle is located in the village of Longtown, 10mi (16.09km) north of Abergavenny, 20mi (32.19km) southwest of Hereford. The village and castle are only accessible via minor roads. 

From Hereford: Head along the A465 toward the B4347 intersection. Travel northbound on the B4347 for about 1mi (1.61km) to a minor road headed west into Longtown.

From the South: Access the village via an unmarked, forked road off the A465 at Pandy that follows the river northwards. You will arrive at Longtown after 4.7mi (7.56km). 

Signage is limited, but the village is easily found

Know Before You Go

  • There are steep steps leading up to the keep - caution is advised during wet weather
  • Drone flying is not allowed at any English Heritage site without explicit permission

Herefordshire, the results of which yielded a more certain dating of Longtown Castle. The following timeline is based on this newfound information. 

History of Longtown Castle

A note of introduction: For the most part, very few castles have a history filled with definitive dates related to the goings-on around them. A good deal of the information gathered is mere speculation or generalisation, much of it based upon very little evidence. Indeed, there is still much to be learned about several historical sites that we have yet to uncover, and Longtown Castle was no exception...until now. 

Recently, in 2016-2018, a thrilling and informative community project took place at the castles in Longtown, Herefordshire, the results of which yielded a more certain dating of Longtown Castle. The following timeline is based on this newfound information. 

Time Line

-1st Century (Castle Origins)

Longtown Castle dates back nearly 2,000 years, evident by recently discovered Roman pottery and carbon-dated charcoal found at the site, indicating it was originally a Roman fort, confirming the previous hypotheses of such. 

Longtown was one of a company of forts erected during the Silures resistance against Roman rule in the 1st century. It is believed that these "people of the rocks" built several forts along the frontline, a day's march from each one to the next, as a stronghold in their fight to retain independence. The fort at Longtown had a square embankment surrounded by a ditch with wooden stockade fencing at the top. 

-c.1055 (Heightened Embankment)

The current supposition credits Earl Harold Godwinson, soon-to-be King Harold, and his army with widening and deepening the ditch around the Longtown fort. The result of this defacement was a higher, 5-metre (16.40-feet) embankment, created for an anticipated attack that never happened. Presumably, the Anglo-Saxon army made their camp here while chasing a Welsh army, having pillaged and burned Hereford, back into Wales. 

-c.1066 (Wooden Tower Built)

After King Harold's death at the Battle of Hastings, Walter de Lacy and William FitzOsbern were ordered by William the Conqueror to build a chain of castles to defend the border at Herefordshire. The first castle Walter built was just four miles south of Longtown at Walterstone.

It is thought to be "more than likely" that Welsh forces occupied the fort at Longtown in troublesome times following the Conquest. Walter was actively constructing another castle at nearby Ponthendre so as to ward off this threat, but the inevitable conflict ensued before it was finished, and Walter abandoned the site to occupy the Longtown fort instead. 

The fort was a wooden tower raised upon a motte over the rampart's northwest corner. Situated here, Walter de Lacy simultaneously defended and held control over the Welsh locals living in the valley there, who faced ongoing raids from Independent parts of Wales. 


Following William the Conqueror's death, Roger de Lacy, Walter's son, suffered two failed conspiracies against the latest king, William Rufus. These treasonous acts led to his exile, whereupon his Ludlow, Weobley, Walterstone, and Longtown castles were confiscated.  

-1135-53 (The Anarchy/Stone Structure Built)

Longtown, and the rest of Roger's property, was reclaimed by his son, Gilbert de Lacy, which was finally accomplished circa 1148. Presumably, his time and actions in the civil, a riveting highlight in British history, resulted in his recovered inheritance. 

The latest findings by the Longtown Castles Project suggest the probability that Gilbert was responsible for replacing the wooden castle at this time with the newer stone structure we see today. (This precedes previous notations by 35-75 years, depending on the source. Additionally, some claim the construction of the original timber motte and bailey occurred at those times.)

Pottery findings and radiocarbon dates suggest the stone castle was erected circa 1150-1160 and most active from its assembly until about 1250; additional LCP research further supports these conclusions. 

The de Lacys proceeded to lay out a new borough along the ridge in order to finance the construction of the new stone castle. Soon it was known as the Long Town of Ewias Lacy.


Around this time, Hugh de Lacy, Gilbert's younger son, is noted to inherit the family estates after Gilbert and his elder son, Roger (who was without children), had both passed.


The de Lacy family's wealth had grown considerably over the years, and the rich got even richer when Hugh became viceroy in Ireland following his participation in the successful invasion led by Henry II in 1171. It took nearly forty more years before the family overextended their reach, and King John sent an army to expel the de Lacys in 1210.


Some sources note a visit to Longtown Castle by Henry III when he ordered the castle to be garrisoned and readied to attack while on his Welsh Marches tour. Longtown and other nearby castles soon became strategic components in the wartime to follow. 

-1241 (de Lacy Ownership Ends)

The last member of the de Lacys (named Walter, like the first) had fallen upon hard times; he died blind and broke, and the family estates were divided soon after. Conflicting records note the castle's passing to various family members, including Gilbert de Lacy's widow and Walter's daughter, and mention the division of all the family estates between Walter's two granddaughters.

Regardless, Walter de Lacy's death marks the beginning of the end for Longtown Castle.


By this time, the de Berghersh family had become the owners of Longtown. The castle was in slow decay and likely only occasionally occupied. Amid complaints from the castle's tenants and local townsfolk about "cattle rustling," fish poaching, breached houses, and plundered goods, the Sheriff of Hereford and thirty men were ordered to garrison the castle. 


The castle passes to new owners once again; first to the Despencer family, then the Beauchamps, and later to the Nevilles. However, all of these families retained occupancy at their existing estates, and Longtown was left to decay. 

-1403 (Re-Fortified)

By King Henry IV's orders, nearly two-dozen castles, including Longtown, were re-fortified and provisioned into active service during the Owain Glyndwr rebellion. 


This is the last known historical mention of the castle as "a working entity." However, both the village and the castle were already in terminal decline, a lingering aftereffect of the Black Death. Henceforth, Longtown continued to decay.


Cannonballs belonging to the Civil War era were discovered in the keep's vicinity, suggesting the possible occurrence of undocumented action at the site. 


Longtown Castles Project’s excavations of the site prove enlightening and result in a rewrite of the castle’s history.

Longtown Castle Occupants


Definitive evidence of any permanent occupancy at Longtown Castle dates back to Walter de Lacy in the 11th century, credited with turning the fort at Longtown into a wooden motte and bailey castle. The castle served as a residence in times of peace and a fortress in times of war. 

The de Lacy family retained ownership into the 13th century and afterward passed through numerous owners, including the families de Berghersh, Dispenser, Beauchamp, and Neville, all in the 14th century alone. However, the castle was generally unused by them or anyone else at this time.

A brief revival came at the start of the 15th century when Henry IV repaired the castle to help fight off Owain Glyndwr, but Longtown remained abandoned in the decades to follow.

 Images of Longtown Castle

Ludgershall Castle

Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package

Longtown Castle Q&A

What Type of Castle Was Longtown Castle?

Longtown Castle has been noted as a Timber Castle as well as a certain Masonry Castle.

When Was Longtown Castle First Built?

Modern-day discoveries of archaeological evidence suggest the stone castle was first built around 1150. The mid-12th-century date points to Gilbert de Lacy as its original architect. If he hadn't completed construction before leaving on Crusade, his sons, Robert and Hugh, were likely responsible for finishing the job. 

Did Longtown Castle Have Other Names?

Longtown Castle has been noted in historical documents under several names, including Novum Castrum, Newcastle, and Ewyas Lacy (also noted Ewias Lacy). 

One piece of evidence supporting this has been the 1187-89 Pipe Rolls, which list Hugh de Lacy's houses as the New Castle and the Castle of Ewyas, referring to Longtown and Walterstone, the former having been newly rebuilt in stone, hence, a new castle. (Likewise, Novum Castrum derives from the Latin words meaning "new thing" and "building.")

On a related note, the castle at Ponthendre was presumed to be Ewais Castle as noted in the Pipe Rolls; however, the determination of its abandonment by Walter de Lacy prior to its completion indicates that this listing did not refer to Ponthendre.

What Was the Main Use of Longtown Castle?

The structures at Longtown have been an evolutional series of fortifications that have been used to defend the surrounding borderlands for nearly two millennia. By the mid-11th century, the castle mostly served as the de Lacy family's home, a role it maintained for almost 200 years. The castle was re-fortified after its 13th-century abandonment but generally left to decay by the time the Black Death came around. 

How Big Was Longtown Castle?

Two storeys tall, the keep stands upon a large motte, standing around 6m (20ft) high. The inner bailey measures approximately 40m by 20m (131ft by 65ft) with a bank 8m (26ft) wide and 2m (6.5ft) high. The stone curtain walls' remaining fragments stand around 3m or 4m (10-13ft) tall. The outer bailey is about 100sq m (328sq ft), defended by a bank about 2.5m (8ft) high internally and 5m (16ft) high externally and a ditch measuring 6m (20ft) wide.

Does Any of Longtown Castle Still Exist?

The remains of Longtown Castle still stand today under the management of English Heritage. The site maintains an exceptional circular keep set on a motte alongside the gatehouse and surrounding curtain wall elements. 

Are There Other Castles Near Longtown Castle?

Several castles are plotted all about the Welsh Borders, and Longtown Castle sits in a historically significant location that was often an epicenter of defense. We remain fortunate in modern times to have numerous fortification sites still standing, providing access to the history they hold. Here are just some of the other castles near Longtown you can explore:

In Herefordshire

  • Goodrich Castle
  • Kilpeck Castle

In Monmouthshire

  • Abergavenny Castle 
  • Grosmont Castle
  • Raglan Castle
  • Skenfrith Castle
  • White Castle

In Powys

  • Crickhowell Castle
  • Hay Castle
  • Tretower Castle

Location of Longtown Castle

Longtown castle has retained its dignity along Herefordshire's backroads, tucked close to the edge of the ominous Black Mountains. Both the castle and the village of Longtown are in a remote region of undulating territory, resting between the mountains and the River Dore valley, and are only accessible via minor roads. 

Though it sits some 6mi (9.66km) northwest of Grosmont, a very Welsh border castle, Longtown Castle is located in England and considered an English castle. The proximity of these castles to one another demonstrates just how muddled the Welsh Marches have become after the Norman Conquest.