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Bletchingley castle (ringwork and bailey)

A Scheduled Monument in Bletchingley, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.239 / 51°14'20"N

Longitude: -0.1076 / 0°6'27"W

OS Eastings: 532197.33289

OS Northings: 150575.049776

OS Grid: TQ321505

Mapcode National: GBR KKG.9LZ

Mapcode Global: VHGSC.23YZ

Entry Name: Bletchingley castle (ringwork and bailey)

Scheduled Date: 6 July 1946

Last Amended: 18 October 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013374

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12786

County: Surrey

Civil Parish: Bletchingley

Built-Up Area: Bletchingley

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Bletchingley St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Southwark


The monument includes a castle of the Norman period which comprises an inner
near-circular enclosure, or ringwork, and an outer enclosure, or bailey. The
ringwork is defined by a massive ditch on the northern and eastern sides
which still survives to a depth of over 6m. On the inner edge is an earthen
bank or rampart which stands to between 1.4 and 2.4m above the level of the
land in the interior. The ditch is spanned on the NE side by a causeway 3m
wide which marks the original access route into the inner part of the
castle. The bank and ditch of the ringwork gives way on the south side to
the steep natural slope of the hill, while on the western side it has been
partially-levelled to make room for a large Victorian house.
The main building within the ringwork was a house some 24m square. Its
undercroft survives in places to a height of 2.5m beneath rubble from the
house's collapse. The house had living quarters on the first floor, to which
access was gained via stairs at the NW and SE corners. The house has been
partially excavated, but the north-eastern half remains uninvestigated.
The outer defences comprise a bank and ditch which surround the ringwork on
all sides except the south, although they have been levelled on the western
side. To the north and east the bank survives to a maximum height of 1.6m
and averages 7m across. Between the inner and outer defences was the bailey,
where ancillary buildings such as stables and storage huts were sited.
The modern structures within the castle earthworks, the access roads and
service trenches and all fences are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath each (except Castle Place, which has cellars) is included.

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.

Despite the partial infilling of the outer ditch on the western side and the
limited disturbance caused by excavation and building works in the 19th and
20th centuries, the ringwork and bailey at Bletchingley survives well and
large areas, especially within the ringwork, lie apparently undisturbed.
The survival of part of a Norman domestic building is also a rarity and one
which adds to the diversity of features within the castle. The potential of
the monument for the recovery of further evidence of the date and manner of
occupation of the castle is high. As a result of the small-scale
excavations, the level of archaeological documentation is good.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Turner, D, 'Surrey Archaeological Bulletin' in Bletchingley Castle Excavation, Parts I-III, (), 214-6
Leach, P, Monument Class Description - Ringworks, (1988)
Musty T, DoE AM107, (1976)
Surrey Antiquity 2149,

Source: Historic England

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