Ancient Monuments

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Ringwork and bailey known as Whitehouse Camp, 200m north of Trelan Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Michaelchurch Escley, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.015 / 52°0'53"N

Longitude: -3.0272 / 3°1'38"W

OS Eastings: 329598.484672

OS Northings: 235669.772787

OS Grid: SO295356

Mapcode National: GBR F5.H7Q2

Mapcode Global: VH787.GMZ5

Entry Name: Ringwork and bailey known as Whitehouse Camp, 200m north of Trelan Farm

Scheduled Date: 2 July 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014537

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27521

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Michaelchurch Escley

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Michaelchurch Escley

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a ringwork and
bailey situated on the crest of the Cefn Ridge, between the River Monnow and
Escley Brook. The ringwork remains include an earthen bank, enclosing a
roughly oval area orientated NNW-SSE, with a crescentic bailey wrapped around
it to the south, south west, and south east, and contiguous with it to the
north. The ringwork bank averages c.4m wide and 1.2m high, however at the
south east end it rises and widens, to form a sub-rectangular mound measuring
c.8m north-south by 16m east-west, and c.2m high. The overall dimensions of
the fortification are therefore c.38m x c.27m. The interior of the bailey is
level whereas the surrounding ground slopes gently away in all directions,
thus the bank is higher on the outside. Material for its construction will
have been obtained from a surrounding ditch, which has since become infilled
and is now longer visible as a surface feature. The mounded ringwork is flat
topped and a fallen tree has revealed a section of a horizontal masonry
revetment which will have supported the sides of the mound. There may
originally have been a similar revetment around the circuit of the bailey. To
the north there is a gap in the ringwork bank which may have been the original
entrance. There are now no surface remains of the gateway, which was probably
of timber construction, and evidence for this will survive within the
terminals of the bank. The bailey has been formed by terracing the natural
slope to enclose an area measuring c.58m north-south and c.55m east-west
within an artificial scarp. The scarp is now visible as a slight earthwork,
c.0.3m high on the south and west sides, and up to 1m to the north east and
east where the natural slope is somewhat steeper. The bailey scarp coincides
with the ringwork in the north to either side of the entrance. In the south
west quarter the scarp has been modified by the Cefn Track which now appears
as a slightly sunken lane with boundary banks to either side, running south
east-north west along the Cefn Ridge. The ringwork and bailey is of relatively
slight construction, suggesting the site was chosen as a temporary military
outpost or defended homestead rather than a permanently occupied stronghold.
Its defences will have consisted of timber palisades around the ringwork bank,
and along the top of the bailey scarp, evidence for which will survive below
the surface.

The attractions of this prominent location, commanding impressive views across
neighbouring valleys, had already been noted in the Bronze Age when the Cefn
Ridge was chosen as the site of a bowl barrow, some 580m to the south east.
The region is noted for its medieval defensive monuments, and the motte castle
at Urishay is 3km to the north east. Both these monuments are the subject of
separate schedulings.

The fences along the Cefn Track are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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 200m north of Trelan Farm is a good example of this
class of monument, and its form and scale are unusual. The ringwork mound will
contain details of its method of construction, including post holes for timber
palisades and the structure on top of the mound. The artificially steepened
scarp of the bailey will similarly retain evidence for the defences which
surmounted it. The unusual northern entrance to the ringwork which approaches
directly from outside rather than through the bailey will preserve details of
the gateway buried within the banks to either side, and evidence for
structures such as a bridge will be preserved in the fills which have
accumulated in the ditch. These fills will also contain environmental evidence
for the activities which took place at the site during its construction and
subsequent use. The old ground surface sealed beneath the ringwork will retain
environmental evidence for land use immediately prior to the monument's
construction. Post holes and foundations of structures within the ringwork and
the bailey enclosure will be preserved as buried features, and environmental
and perhaps artefactual evidence will be preserved in features such as storage
and refuse pits, which will elucidate the function of the buildings and the
activities which took place in these enclosures.

In its prominent ridge top position, with sweeping views across the
surrounding land, the monument is one of a large number of medieval defended
sites in the Marches. As such it forms part of the wider picture of the
defences of the county at that time, and when viewed alongside other examples
it contributes to our understanding of the social and political organisation
of medieval Herefordshire. Although on private land, the monument can be
clearly seen from the Cefn Track which runs across its south western angle.

Source: Historic England


held on SMR, Kay, R E, Whitehouse 'Camp', (1932)

Source: Historic England

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