DIXTON HILL CASTLE

Built with the earthworks of an Iron Age fort, Dixton Castle was a motte-and-bailey fortification most likely raised during the Anarchy, the twelfth century civil war over the English succession. Its hilltop location gave it a commanding view of the surrounding area but it was also an exposed site and it is possible the castle was never fully completed.

History

 

Standing 164 metres above sea level, Dixton Hill commands an overland route to the Tewkesbury, an important medieval town due to the fording point over the River Severn. The site is believed to have hosted two fortifications, a hillfort and a motte-and-bailey castle.

 

The hillfort occupied the summit of the hill enclosing an area of around nine acres. Whilst the southern earthworks are limited, leading some authors to discount the site as a fortification, the northern side has clear evidence of three banks and ramparts. Crucially this side would have been visible from the main east/west route to Tewkesbury. It is known when or how long the site was occupied although the IA defences are indicative of the Iron Age.

 

In the south-east end of the hillfort earthworks are the remains of a motte-and-bailey fortification. The flat topped motte, which would have been topped by a timber tower and/or palisade, was situated on a spur of the hill giving it a commanding view. The hillfort defences were partitioned to create a bailey to the immediate north-west. Little is known about this fortification but it was probably built by the Dixton family who held the site in the twelfth century. Construction was probably initiated in the early years of the Anarchy, the civil war between Stephen and Matilda over the English succession, as Dixton Hill lay on the frontier between the two factions. The fortification may never have been finally completed.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Allen, R (1976). English Castles. Batsford, London.

Bradbury, J (2012). Stephen and Matilda. The History Press, Stroud.

Cornish, J.B (1906). Ancient Earthworks.

Historic England (2018). Dixton Hill Camp, List entry 1004874. Historic England, London.

King, C.D.J (1983). Castellarium anglicanum: an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands.  Kraus International Publications.

Salter, M (1999). The Castles of Bristol and Gloucestershire. Folly Publications.

What's There?

Dixton Hill Castle consists of the overgrown earthwork remains of an Iron Age hillfort and twelfth century motte-and-bailey castle.  A public right of ways runs adjacent to the site.

Dixton Hill. The summit of the hill is 164 metres above sea level.

View. The site was chose due to its commanding views over the surrounding area.

Dixton Hill Castle. The motte can be seen in the foreground.

Dixton Hill Castle Context. The castle was probably built in the early years of the Anarchy when the site was on the frontier between the two factions.

Getting There

Dixton Hill Castle is found to the east of Dixton. It is most easily accessed off Gretton Road where there is a small lay-by adjacent to the path to the summit.

Car Parking Option

Gretton Road, GL54 5HF

51.972053N 2.015484W

Dixton Hill Castle and Hillfort

No Postcode

51.973829N 2.021140W