Beautifully sited on the fringe of Dartmoor, Lydford boasts three defensive features. Near the centre is a 13th century tower on a mound, built as a prison. It later became notorious for harsh punishments, with one of its inmates calling it 'the most annoious, contagious and detestable place within this realm'. To the south is an earlier Norman earthwork castle and to the north, there are Saxon town defences.
Read more about the history of Lydford Castle, Norman Fort & Saxon Town.
Before You Go
Parking: There is a free car park in the village opposite the Castle Inn.
How to Find It: The site comprises three separate areas. To access the Norman Fort follow the track bearing left from the castle entrance, which takes you behind the church. The Saxon Town Banks are bisected by the main village street. Entrances to the sites are located next to Nicholls Hall and Clifton Cottage.
Facilities: Public toilets in the car park are open May to October.
Please be aware: Sheep may be grazing at the Norman Fort and on the Town Banks.
English Heritage does not permit drone flying from or over sites in our care, except by contractors or partners undertaking flights for a specific purpose, who satisfy stringent CAA criteria, have the correct insurances and permissions, and are operating under controlled conditions.
Dogs: Dogs on leads are welcome.
Plan a Great Day Out
The castle is a great spot for picnics and has plenty of space for children to run and play.
Lydford lies on the edge of Dartmoor National Park and could be incorporated into a tour of historic sites in the area. Merrivale Historic Settlement is nearby, as are the many prehistoric remains of the Upper Plym Valley. Further east on the moor you'll find Hound Tor Deserted Medieval Village and the Bronze Age settlement of Grimspound. On the northern edge of Dartmoor, Okehampton Castle is another impressive ruin with plenty to explore and beautiful woodland walks nearby.
English Heritage cares for over 400 historic buildings, monuments and places - from world-famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, from Roman forts on the edges of empire to a Cold War bunker. Through these, we bring the story of England to life for over 10 million people each year. The English Heritage Trust is a charity, no. 1140351, and a company, no. 0744722, registered in England.
- 66% Self-generated income
- 20% One off capital grant
- 14% Government funding