One of the town's
attractive features is Lydney Harbour. In 1980, the lower and
tidal basins and the connecting lock were classified as a
Scheduled Ancient Monument and the rest of the harbour area,
which dates from the 1870's, is a rare and historically
important example of an unspoilt 19th century harbour built for
sailing ships. Both iron and coal were exported from the Forest,
often on ships built using local oak.
Until Stuart times, quite
large ships were constructed at Lydney, including the 306-ton,
22-gun frigate 'Forester' in 1657 and the 620-ton frigate
'Princess' in 1660. The town was the home of Sir William
Wintour, Admiral of the Fleet of Queen Elizabeth I in 1588, and
many of the ships who fought the Spanish Armada were built here.
Tolkien and Noden's Temple at Lydney - Did this ring and Dwarf's
Hill inspire Tolkien?
In 1928 Sir Mortimer Wheeler and his wife Tessa, both eminent
archaeologists, were commissioned to make a thorough examination
of the Lydney Park site of Noden's Temple. Tolkien was later
invited there in a professional capacity, being at that time
Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, and stayed on a number of
occasions in the Bathurst family's main house. He would, a
couple of years later, contribute a chapter to the published
report for the Society of Antiquaries on the origin and meaning
of the name
the god to whom the temple complex is dedicated and of whom
there is little other record.
The site of Dwarf’s Hill at Lydney Park was riddled with tunnels
and open-cast iron mines known as ‘scowles’. The labyrinth of
tunnels in the hillside and local legend naming it as a habitat
of the 'little people' may have inspired the notion of
hole-dwelling hobbits. There are close similarities with
Tolkien's Hobbiton and The Shire, which are said to describe an
idealised version of rural England. It certainly seems probable
that Tolkien was inspired in some way by the folklore attached
to the hill.
Coincidentally the Roman God Noden was known, amongst other
things, as the Lord of the Mines, not a far cry from The Lord of
From medieval times Lydney residents forgot it had been a Roman
settlement and thought the crumbling ruins were the homes of
little people, dwarves and hobgoblins and were afraid of that
hill.Tolkien would have also probably visited Puzzlewood which
was only a few miles away. There in 1848 workmen had moved a
block of stone and uncovered three earthenware jars containing
over 3000 Roman coins. That ancient site's unique geology with
its scowls and caves is today regularly used by film crews and
together with nearby Clearwell Caves has been the setting for
scenes from Merlin, Harry Potter and Dr Who.
of the artefacts found at the Lydney Park site in the early
1800s was a curse tablet, an invocation for revenge. It reads:
“To the God Nodens. Silvanus has lost a ring. He has [vowed]
half its value to Nodens. Amongst all who bear the name of
Senicianus, refuse thou to grant health to exist, until he bring
back the ring to the Temple of Nodens.”
It seems extraordinary, but what appears to be the same ring had
in fact, already been found, but not at Lydney. It was dug up by
a farmer in a ploughed field at Silchester, Hampshire, in 1785.
Silchester is the site of the large and important Roman town of
Now Senicianus had a new inscription written on it: ‘Seniciane
vivas in deo’ (Senicianus, may you live in God). The ring's home
these days is the Vyne Museum at Basingstoke and there seems
very little chance of it being returned to Noden's Temple.
Like The One Ring in Tolkien’s Middle-earth, the Roman ring had
gathered dust in a library for many years. It’s story now
brought back to life, the 12g golden ring sits on display at The
Vyne. The “Ring Room” also houses Tolkien memorabilia, and
leaves the question as to whether the ancient ring might
actually be the very one that inspired Tolkien.
Silvanus is probably spinning in his grave. And did that
thieving devil Senicianus ever realise he would end up as
See more about the
Lydney Park temple
The Old Severn Railway
The Severn Railway Bridge
crossed just north of Lydney from Purton to Sharpness. Opened on
the 21st of July 1879, it was damaged beyond repair in 1960. On
the 25th October 1960, in thick fog, the bridge was hit by two
barges carrying petrol to Sharpness docks. The collision knocked
down two piers that fell on the barge and 5 people were killed.
The Western Region of
British Railways planned to reconstruct the bridge but after
further damage in 1961, they considered it to be damaged beyond
Drawing by Lydney's E J Rice from a 1903 photograph
There was no need for a
replacement after the report by Dr Beeching entitled 'The
Reshaping of British Railways' was published in 1963. It
included Sharpness in a list of passenger services to be
withdrawn. Passenger services ceased there in November 1964 and
goods facilities were withdrawn in January 1966 and the station
buildings later demolished.
The Railway System in 1911
Trains to and from Lydney today
The Dean Forest Railway
is a 4 1⁄4-mile (6.8 km) long heritage railway that runs between
Lydney and Parkend in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.
The route was part of the
former Severn and Wye Railway which ran from Lydney to
The society that operates
the line started steam locomotive operations in 1971, and bought
the trackbed and line from British Rail in 1986. Reaching Both
Lydney Junction and Parkend railway stations by 1995 and 2005
Trains are operated by
both steam and heritage diesel locomotives, and heritage diesel
The Dean Forest railway
has been given the former GWR signal box that stood slightly to
the east of Codsall station in Staffordshire. Its removal was
completed in July 2007, and is expected to be placed at the
newly restored Whitecroft railway station.
CrossCountry are now
providing a combined fare for travel to Lydney mainline station
(on CrossCountry services only) and then onto the Dean Forest
The Dean Forest Railway
plans to extend its heritage services a further 2 1⁄2 miles (4.0
km) through/into the middle of the Royal Forest at Speech House
Road (close to the nearby Beechenhurst Visitor Attraction),
bringing the line to a total of about 6 3⁄4 miles (10.9 km) in
See their web-site
Treasure Trove of
Bronze Age Gold Bracelets Found at Woolaston.
What is believed to be six
Bronze Age gold bracelets have been found by a metal detecting
enthusiast from Fife in Scotland while on a November 2013
weekend rally organised by the Forest of Dean Metal Detecting
Club in a field overlooking the Severn Vale. The bracelets may
have belonged to a child who lived in, or visited the Forest of
Dean area, around 700 BC.
Forty four year old Steve
Moodie, who spends much of his time metal detecting around the
beaches of Fife, discovered six 3,000-year-old pure gold
children's bracelets just inches below a farmer's stubble field
at Woolaston. He at first thought he had discovered a can but
soon realised he had unearthed one of the biggest hauls of
BronzeAge artefacts ever found anywhere in the country. Steve
has been told the treasure trove could be valued at as much as
six figures and the sum being split 50/50 with the landowner.
The treasure is now in the hands of the British Museum for
analysis and cleaning and that may take up to two years.
'Big Steve' had already
made a significant discovery in Falkland eight years ago when
finding a Bronze Age gold ring, now at the St Andrews Museum,
and believed to be the first of its kind to be discovered in
Around 140 people attended
the weekend metal detecting rally which was sponsored by Lydney
Rugby Club. Dave Warren of the Forest of Dean Metal Detecting
Club said: “The rally went really well.The finds were amazing
overall and not just the Bronze Age treasure. Over the weekend
people found a silver hammer coin, a Bronze Age axe head, and a
Roman broach and coins. The big discovery, the Bronze Age
bracelet, is a very significant find for this area.”
Kurt Adams, a County finds
liaison officer, was there to verify any of the findings.
|The excavations of the Roman
site at Park Farm, Lydney Mead, in the 1950s
When a sewerage trench, across Park
Farm culvert from Aylburton, was being dug in the early 1950s,
the debris from what appeared to be a Roman villa was
An exploratory dig in 1954, led by Dr. Charles
uncovered the wall of a building. It
had a flag-stone surround and was later revealed to be the
northward wall of the small room in building 2.
|Fitchet's 1987 illustration
rotated to approximately north-south, and the site area shown
A creek surrounds the northern section. The track running left to right is Mead Lane,
Aylburton, opposite the present-day Taurus Centre. If our
reading of this sketch is correct, the top unexcavated building
lies across the lane.
(1885-1972), at that time President of the Forest of Dean Local
History Society, lived with his wife Gladys at Sandford House in
An experienced archaeologist, he had previously been
involved in the uncovering of the Chesters villa site at
Woolaston between 1932 and 1935.
On August 9th 1955, he and
Gladys, with four other members of the Society, began a dig that
would continue until 18th February 1960.
On that first day in
1955, Mr N.P Bridgewater proceeded to follow the already partly
excavated wall of Building 2, while Dr. Scott-Garrett in another
trench, found the eastern edge of a 2 feet six inches wide
internal wall from a second larger building which he later named
Maurice Fitchet's 1987 diagram
rotated 90 degrees, with our added text.
Over the following four and a half years,
four buildings were identified. None appeared to include the
luxury of baths and decorated floors found at the Chesters site.
Here the ground surfaces were mainly flagstones, with one coarse
tessalated area. In 1960 he returned briefly to the site and
completed the excavation of 120ft of a wall in the area of a
probable fifth building. On Fitchet's
diagram above, part of it is shown to the left of Room 1959.
Only the discovery of a couple of coins was recorded. One,
found on 29th September 1955 14 inches below the turf, was
identified as a Trajan from AD 103 and another from the reign of
4th century Constantine.
Building 1 is divided into ten rooms.
One of the those, (H), included a possible
stairway base. The whole building covered an area 75 feet by 43 feet.
Some of the floors had tesselated, or opus
signinium surfaces (made of tiles broken up into very small
pieces, and mixed with mortar), and others, flag-stones.
One room had a fire trench, but there is no
evidence of a hypocaust system.
A broken quarter segment of a
mill-stone was uncovered as part of the floor of the
Scott-Garrett (1885-1972) was well known
for his interest in Forest of Dean archaeology.
A Scotsman, born near Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim,
Charles played in an international rugby
trial in 1909 and was also a prominent hockey player.
He came to the Forest to manage the manufacture
of acetone, which was used in the manufacture of
munitions, at the Speech House Road Distillation
Works near Cannop, in 1914.
He married a Clifton clergyman's daughter,
school-teacher Gladys Browne (1888-1960), at
Bristol in 1916.
During the following years his work led him to
travel extensively in England and much of Europe.
In 1919 he was awarded the MBE after being
nominated by Winston Churchill.
Moving back to the Forest in 1930, he and Gladys
settled at Sandford House, Aylburton.
In the years following, Charles became known in
the archaeological world after
discovering a complete fossil, about 10 feet in
length, of an Ichthyosaurus, on the Severn shore
A great friend of Frank Harris from Lydney, he
partnered him during the excavation of the Roman
Chesters Villa at Woolaston in the 1930s, and in
later years, joined the Forest of Dean Local
History Society, participating in their early
1950s digs at the Norman Camp in Littledean, and
the Tidenham Chase Bronze-Age Barrow.
Dr. Charles Scott-Garrett became President of the Society in
He died at Ross-on-Wye in 1972.
The dimensions of Building 2 are 55 feet by 38 feet.
It has a heavily flagged floor and some
evidence of resurfacing. One section with a gully may have been
the site of a latrine. The floor surface of the small room
consists of flagstones set in
In the main room there is also a
drainage trench entering at the centre of the south-facing wall.
It runs parallel with the internal wall, and ends in a sump.
Building 3, which lays across Mead
Lane, was not excavated. The trial trenches produced a number of
finds and probable flagged flooring.
The fourth building, Room 1959, is an annex to
Building 2. It has a flagged floor and evidence of a
brazier hearth. Dr. Scott-Garrett believed that to be for a
A wall, thought at the time to be of a fifth
building, heads WSW from a point between Building 2 and Room 1959. It was
excavated in late 1959 and early 1960 for about 120 feet as it
The large quantity of pottery
and other finds
suggest that what has so far been uncovered on this site may be
only a small part of a large villa, or settlement, and possibly
even a naval or military barracks complex.
At the end of his excavation notes Dr. Scott Garrett had
copied an excerpt from M.P Charlesworth's 'The Lost
Province' in which the possibility of a local
Roman naval depot
A late Roman fort at Caernarvon, down by the waterside
(Caer Seiont), and Roman fortifications at Caer Gybi (
on Holyhead) suggest that a watch may have been kept
there; in the south-west Carmarthen was certainly
occupied during the fourth century, and a typical 'Saxon
Shore' type of fort exists at Cardiff.
On the south side of the Bristol Channel there appear to
be two Roman signal-stations at Martinhoe and Old Burrow
(to the west and east of Lynton), and these must have
been intended to give warning to the inhabitants of
Roman Somerset- a county thick-set with villae- and
possibly across the Channel to Cardiff.
It must be admitted that so far no signal-stations have
been identified in West Wales, but they may still exist
and await discovery, and there are slight indications of
some inland in the counties of Montgomery, Radnor, and
But there is at least a probability that the government
took precautions in the west as well as in the east, and
it would be interesting if we could but learn what was
the main base of the scouting-craft ( scajae
exploratoriae), with camouflaged sails and rigging, that
Vegetius mentions, and where lay the naval repair depot
(reliquatio ), whose existence is revealed by an
official who made a dedication at Lydney in
At the end of this text Dr. Scott-Garrett had written in
capitals - OUR PARK FARM SITE!!
The dedication at Noden's Temple
Because of the missing text on the above dedication,
Latin scholars could only guess at its full original
One translation interprets it
as “To the god Nodens, Titus Flavius Senilis,
officer in charge of the supply depot of the fleet, laid
this pavement out of money offerings; the work being in
charge of Victorinus, interpreter on the Governor’s
In the Weald of south-east England stamped tiles of the
Classis Britannica (the Fleet of the Britannia Province)
have been found at sites associated with the production
The largest of these is at
Beauport Park, near Battle, East Sussex, where more than
1000 tiles were used to roof a substantial bath house
adjacent to a large iron smelting site. Other iron
production sites where tiles have been found are at
Bardown, near Wadhurst, Sussex, and Little Farningham
Farm, near Cranbrook, Kent. Three other sites where
tiles have been found had access to navigable water in
Roman times, and two of them, at Bodiam, and at Boreham
Bridge near Ninfield, both in Sussex have associated
ironworkings. The implication is that the Britannia
Roman Fleet not only transported iron but was involved
in its production as well.
It is quite obvious that
here at Lydney is a site that cries out to be fully
excavated using modern technology. It certainly appears
to be the source of the wealth that later created
Sadly, Dr. Scott-Garrett's
uncompleted work left many more questions than answers.
Greenwood's 1824 map shows the waterways around Lydney and
Aylburton in 1824. Even at this time, a creek leading into
Lydney Pill came quite close to the present day A48 at
Until the Stuart period, quite large ships were constructed at
Lydney, including the 306-ton, 22-gun frigate 'Forester' in 1657
and the 620-ton frigate 'Princess' in 1660.
The town was the home of Sir William Wintour, Admiral of the
Fleet of Queen Elizabeth I in 1588. Many of the ships who fought
the Spanish Armada were built here.
The one-mile canal was opened in 1813. (map from TAB
The waterway access to Aylburton and Lydney Park on Isaac
Taylor's 1777 map.
In the early 19th century the
Newerne stream, sometimes known as Cannop brook, or the
Lyd, flowed down the centre of Newerne village and
formed the head of the inlet called Lydney Pill.
Plummer's, or Nass brook, crossed the north-eastern
part of the parish, reached the pill further south at a
place called Cross Pill.
Park brook flowed down to
Aylburton, had a branch running from that village across
the fields to the ironworks called Lower Forge, north-
west of the head of the pill.
Our OS map shows the area between Mead Lane and Stockwell
Lane, Aylburton in 1924. It indicates 'traces of Roman
paving' on the A48 in the Vine Hall area.
Apart from the Park Farm dig
at Lydney Mead, there have been other local 'finds'.
A possible occupation site, with sherds of Roman
pottery, was found near Darken Lane, Aylburton, by Dr. C.
Scott-Garrett. It is approached by the hollow-way which
leads up Stockwell Lane & Darken Lane.
Romano-British pottery was uncovered north of Mead Lane,
near the southern edge of the road, during excavations
immediately before the A48 Lydney bypass was built in
In 1999 a large heavy base silver ring was recovered
from the spoil heap of a Severn Trent trench outside 28
High Street, Aylburton. It was identified at Caerleon
Museum as being C2 in date.
In 2004 a Roman cosmetic scoop, looped at the top, probably part of a set, and a C1/2 Roman 'dolphin' brooch,
were found near Tump Farm.
keep castle situated on a hilltop, it was only
250 metres from the Romano-British temple.
During Mortimer Wheeler's Roman excavations
at Lydney Park in 1929, an
earthwork at Little Camp Hill was trenched and
found to contain the remains of a small
until that time, had been regarded locally as a
small camp, associated with the larger Roman
'camp' at Noden's Temple. On Ordnance Survey
maps it appeared under the name 'Outpost'.
With Lord Bledisloe's permission and
partially excavated in May and June of 1930 by
the Australian archaeologist, Dermot Armstrong
no documentary evidence for the date of the
castle's construction, but Casey, considering
the type and construction, dated it to between
1100 and 1189 AD.
plan it appears to be similar to that of
Carisbrooke Castle, on the Isle of Wight, whose
Norman stone walls were erected around the same
there is no direct record of the ownership of
Lydney castle, in the Domesday Survey it is
recorded that William Fitz Osbern, Earl of
Hereford, made a manor at Lydney.
The purpose of the castle, which appears to have
been demolished in Medieval times, has not been
ascertained. D A Casey suggests that it may
originally have been built to protect the area's
substantial iron trade.
tower was found at the entrance and another
tower at the south west angle of the castle
walls. In the inner bailey, where the curtain
wall joined the keep, a small annex had been
added later, with an oven alongside.
On the north side of the keep the masonry was
standing to a height of nearly nine feet.
The oven was
found to be roughly constructed of stones set
in clay, and paved with Roman hypocaust-bricks,
among which was a quantity of Roman tesserae. These
bricks and tesserae were doubtless brought from
the Roman Temple site on the adjoining hill.
This may indicate that a fair amount of
the Castle's less specialised building materials were most
probably obtained from the local Roman sites.
The keep measures 30ft by 23 ft 6
inches inside, and 57ft by 50ft at the base outside. The
outer part of the wall at the south-west corner of the keep
was 12ft thick.
The lower part of the curtain wall
is battered on the outside west of the keep, the battered
portion is standing to its full height above which the face
is vertical and the wall is 7ft 10 inches thick.
|Among the finds were,
some pottery, a fairly large number of oyster shells,
three keys, the head of a pike, shears, a miner's pick,
horse-shoe nails, a lead plumb bob, a part of a whistle
made from a bird bone, a piece of deer antler with saw
marks, probably intended to be a knife handle, the
remains of a number of animals, and two belt buckles.
1930 excavator, Dermot Armstrong Casey (1897-1977), was
born in South Yarra, Melbourne, Australia, and educated
in England, at Eton and the Royal Military Academy,
His older brother,
Baron Richard Gardiner Casey, was Governor General of
Australia from 1965-69.
the Royal Horse Artillery in 1916, Dermot was sent to
the Western Front.
He was awarded the
Military Cross for bravery in 1918 when directing the
fire of his battery in the face of an enemy advance.
A member of the
Fellowship of Antiquaries, from 1929 he assisted the
well-known British archaeologist, Mortimer Wheeler, on
sites in England, including the Roman excavations at St.
Albans in 1933.
He again joined
Mortimer Wheeler at Taxila, India (Pakistan) in 1944.
Back in Australia,
Dermot was a founder of the Anthropological Society of
Victoria, president in 1947 of the Royal Society of
Victoria, and honorary ethnologist to the National
Museum of Victoria for forty years.In
the 1950s, he became a foundation member of the
Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
In his 1977
obituary, colleagues acknowledged Dermot's skill as an
excavator and master of exposition, while appreciating
his modesty, good humour and generosity.
The notes of Dr. C. Scott-Garrett.
Archaeology in Dean by Cyril Hart.
The Archaeology and History of Ancient Dean and the Wye
Valley by Bryan Walters.
The New Regard.
The Lost Province by M.P Charlesworth.
The Antiquaries Journal
contact us at