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Ringwork castle in Bailey's Wood

A Scheduled Monument in Biddulph, Staffordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.1323 / 53°7'56"N

Longitude: -2.1667 / 2°10'0"W

OS Eastings: 388940.551649

OS Northings: 359475.47104

OS Grid: SJ889594

Mapcode National: GBR 12S.R08

Mapcode Global: WHBC7.PJFK

Entry Name: Ringwork castle in Bailey's Wood

Scheduled Date: 17 January 1969

Last Amended: 1 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014690

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21640

County: Staffordshire

Civil Parish: Biddulph

Built-Up Area: Biddulph

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Biddulph St Lawrence

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

Details

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a ringwork castle
situated within Bailey's Wood to the north of Biddulph.
The castle is located in a strategic position at the eastern end of a
prominent ridge of land with the ground falling away steeply to the Biddulph
Brook to the north, east and south. The castle is thought to have originally
belonged to the de Vernon family of Alton but later became the property of the
Biddulph family. In the 16th century the family moved to their new house
0.85km to the north east and the ringwork castle is believed to have been
abandoned at this time.
The defensive earthworks enclose a central area of approximately 0.14ha and
include a rampart with a bank, external ditch and traces of a counterscarp
bank along the eastern and southern sides of the site. It is thought that the
natural steepness of the slope made the construction of a ditch and
counterscarp on the northern side of the site unnecessary, although there is
no evidence for a counterscarp along the south western side either. The
internal bank survives as a low earthwork for much of its circuit except
across the neck of the ridge on the western side of the castle where it stands
to a height of 2m above the interior. In 1967 an excavation through a section
of the rampart indicated that the castle defences were strengthened by the
addition of a further layer of clay to the rampart during the 12th century and
traces of a timber palisade along the top of the inner bank were also located.
The ditch averages 9m in width and is up to 3m deep below the top of the bank
except in the southern part of the site where it has, in effect, been created
by terracing and steepening the natural hillside and, as a result, is a less
prominent feature. Access into the interior is by means of a 3m wide causeway
across the north western defences which is thought to represent the original
entrance to the site.
The interior is almost oval in plan and measures approximately 45m north-south
by 30m east-west. No internal earthworks are visible on the ground surface but
an excavation within the eastern part of the interior recovered evidence for
the occupation of the ringwork castle including traces of timber structures
with substantial post holes which were replaced in the 13th century by a
building with stone foundations. Large quantities of 13th, 14th, and 15th
century pottery and bronze and iron objects were located within the interior
of this structure. The lack of 16th century artefacts and evidence for
occupation beyond this date confirms that the site was abandoned during the
16th century.
The fence posts in the south western part of the site are excluded from the
scheduling but the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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 castle within Bailey's Wood survives well and represents a good
example of this class of monument. Part excavation has indicated that the
interior will retain structural and artefactual evidence for the buildings
which originally existed here, and will provide information regarding the
activities and status of the site's inhabitants. Additionally the naturally
silted ditches will retain archaeological deposits relating to the economy of
the inhabitants and to the environment in which they lived. The importance of
the ringwork castle is enhanced by its association with the Biddulph family
who abandoned the site in the 16th century in favour of a new mansion 0.85km
to the north east which is the subject of a separate scheduling.
The ringwork castle in the Bailey's Wood is accessible to the public and
serves as a valuable public amenity.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Kennedy, J, Biddulph - A Local History, (1952), 21
Bestwick, J L, 'Transactions of the Biddulph Historical Society' in Excavation At Lea Forge, Biddulph, Interim Survey, , Vol. 1, (1968), 6-9

Source: Historic England

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