Ancient Monuments

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Ringwork and bailey castle 100m north east of Heath Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Alberbury with Cardeston, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.696 / 52°41'45"N

Longitude: -2.9199 / 2°55'11"W

OS Eastings: 337929.024974

OS Northings: 311323.747812

OS Grid: SJ379113

Mapcode National: GBR B9.39TD

Mapcode Global: WH8BR.3HVJ

Entry Name: Ringwork and bailey castle 100m north east of Heath Farm

Scheduled Date: 13 October 1937

Last Amended: 20 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013485

English Heritage Legacy ID: 19211

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Alberbury with Cardeston

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Alberbury

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the remains of a ringwork and bailey castle and a sample
of the earthwork remains of ridge and furrow ploughing within an open field
system. It is protected within two areas. The ringwork is situated
in a marshy, valley bottom position and is believed to have been the centre of
the manor of Amaston, held as part of the barony of Montgomery. The manor was
held in the 13th century in return for providing two soldiers for 40 days
in times of war. The ringwork includes a low roughly circular platform with an
external diameter of 45m bounded by an external scarp 2m high. A bank
averaging 0.6m high around the rim of the platform gives the interior of the
site, which is 24m in diameter, a slightly dished appearance. Around the
south eastern quarter of the site, the remains of a surrounding ditch are
visible for approximately 22m as a slight depression 5m wide and 0.3m deep. To
the north west of the ringwork and separated from it by a modern farm access
road is a bailey in which the domestic buildings associated with the
castle would have been protected. The bailey survives as a low, roughly
sub-rectangular, platform with an internal area of 36m north west to south
east by 40m transversely. It is bounded around the south west, west and north
sides by a well defined scarp 1.5m high. The junction of the ringwork and
bailey, at the south eastern side of the bailey, has been modified by the
approach road to Heath Farm which now forms the south east side of the bailey
enclosure. There is no visible trace of the ditch surrounding the extant sides
of the bailey but it will survive as a buried feature with an estimated width
of 4m.

Extending over a considerable area to the south and east of the ringwork and
bailey are the well defined earthwork remains of the ridge and furrow
ploughing of an open field system. This represents the field system belonging
to the medieval hamlet of Amaston. In 1086 seven tenants were recorded in the
hamlet but by 1379 this had fallen to only four. Amaston is believed to have
remained a recognisable hamlet until its final desertion in the 1690s. A
sample of the ridge and furrow adjacent to the ringwork is included within the
scheduling to preserve the stratigraphic relationship between the ringwork
and the field system.

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.

The ringwork and bailey at Heath Farm survives well and is a good example of
its class. Both the ringwork and the bailey appear largely undisturbed and
will contain valuable archaeological information relating to their
construction, date and the character of their occupation. Environmental
evidence relating to the landscape in which they were constructed will be
preserved beneath the banks and in the fill of the ditches. The proximity of
the ridge and furrow field system belonging to the vanished hamlet of Amaston
and the relationship between this and the ringwork add to the archaeological
importance of the site. Such monuments when considered, either as single sites
or in their broader relationship as a part of the medieval landscape
contribute valuable information relating to the settlement pattern, economy
and social organisation of the countryside during the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Watson, M, Musson, C, Shropshire from the Air. Man and the Landscape, (1993), 62
CPTA 85-9-13, Ref CPTA 85-9-13, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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