Ancient Monuments

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Hales Castle: a ringwork and associated earthworks on Coles Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Selwood, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1968 / 51°11'48"N

Longitude: -2.2912 / 2°17'28"W

OS Eastings: 379748.632815

OS Northings: 144220.780504

OS Grid: ST797442

Mapcode National: GBR 0SQ.X4K

Mapcode Global: VH97M.75LV

Entry Name: Hales Castle: a ringwork and associated earthworks on Coles Hill

Scheduled Date: 14 July 1966

Last Amended: 16 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008805

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24021

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Selwood

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a ringwork and associated earthworks situated on top of
the lower end of a gently sloping spur below Roddenbury Hill.
The ringwork is roughly circular, with an internal area of 0.11ha. enclosed
by univallate earthworks. The defences are greatest around the upper and lower
parts of the site, relying more on the natural slopes at the sides, and
consist of a bank 0.3m-1.2m high internally, an external ditch 0.2m-1.6m
deep (the ramparts overall being 1.6m-2.6m high) and a slight counterscarp
0.2m-0.3m high. Both inner bank and counterscarp have flattened tops.
The interior of the ringwork slopes down to the north west and is naturally
higher than the surrounding land except on the south east. The entrance to the
interior is on the north west, from downhill, and consists of a slight
causeway across the ditch and a simple gap in the inner bank. A circular
hollow 0.4m deep inside the entrance with an associated spoil mound may be
the site of a well.
Outside the ringwork and adjoining it or abutting it is a system of field
banks, scarps and ditches 0.1m-0.4m high/deep. The scarping indicates that
the small fields formed by these were regularly ploughed at some time, perhaps
in the Middle Ages. On the north they incorporate what is possibly an
unfinished bailey.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Ringworks are medieval fortifications built and occupied from the late
Anglo-Saxon period to the later 12th century. They comprised a small defended
area containing buildings which was surrounded or partly surrounded by a
substantial ditch and a bank surmounted by a timber palisade or, rarely, a
stone wall. Occasionally a more lightly defended embanked enclosure, the
bailey, adjoined the ringwork. Ringworks acted as strongholds for military
operations and in some cases as defended aristocratic or manorial settlements.
They are rare nationally with only 200 recorded examples and less than 60
with baileys. As such, and as one of a limited number and very restricted
range of Anglo-Saxon and Norman fortifications, ringworks are of particular
significance to our understanding of the period.

Hales Castle survives as a good example of the smaller size range of its
class. The survival of part of an associated field system is an unusual
feature and will provide evidence for contemporary land use.

Source: Historic England


PRN 24461, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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