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Medieval ringwork with bailey and approach causeway, incorporating a bowl barrow on Castle Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Folkestone, Kent

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Latitude: 51.0983 / 51°5'53"N

Longitude: 1.161 / 1°9'39"E

OS Eastings: 621412.90473

OS Northings: 137977.311258

OS Grid: TR214379

Mapcode National: GBR W1V.0CC

Mapcode Global: FRA F6B6.S52

Entry Name: Medieval ringwork with bailey and approach causeway, incorporating a bowl barrow on Castle Hill

Scheduled Date: 18 August 1938

Last Amended: 1 July 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014864

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12826

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Folkestone

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent


The monument includes the site of a castle of Norman origin and its defended
approach causeway, and a Bronze Age burial mound with an encircling ditch. A
large defensive earthen bank or rampart encloses the summit of Castle Hill,
except on the western side where the steep slope was sufficient defence. The
rampart averages some 20m in width and, when taken in conjunction with the
deep outer ditch, presented a long and steep slope to any would-be attacker.
Within the enclosed area is a smaller oval enclosure surrounded by another
ditch. This inner enclosure, or ringwork, measures 105m east-west by 72m
north-south and was the site of the main residential buildings of the castle
as well as a small chapel. Between the ringwork and the outer bank was the
bailey; an enclosed area in which ancillary buildings such as soldiers'
accommodation, storage huts, workshops and stables would have been sited. A
raised causeway crosses the bailey, joining the entrance to the ringwork on
its eastern side with the entrance to the castle to the north east. This is
the only original entrance, the other routes into the castle having been
created more recently.
Part excavation by General Pitt-Rivers in 1878 revealed a number of internal
features, including a well over 29m deep within the ringwork. Several of his
excavation trenches are still visible as hollows. Leading north eastwards from
the castle is a causeway with a 3m wide ditch and bank on its western side.
For over 100m the causeway stands raised above the general ground level. Also
in this area is a low earthen mound 16m in diameter, slightly truncated by the
causeway, which marks the site of a Bronze Age burial. The ditch around the
mound is no longer visible.

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 at Castle Hill is the largest and most complete ringwork in the
south east of England and survives to a large extent undisturbed by later
activities. Its archaeological potential is therefore considerable, as has
been demonstrated during small-scale part excavation by General Pitt-Rivers
in 1878. These excavations have also led to above average archaeological
documentation of the castle.
The causeway linking the castle to the approach lane is a rare survival of an
originally common component of castles and one which demonstrates the use of
natural defences beyond the limits of the castle itself. The Bronze Age bowl
barrow which was incorporated into the causeway adds to the diversity of the
monument and is itself of considerable archeological potential since it shows
no evidence of having been seriously disturbed.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pitt-Rivers, G, 'Archaeologia' in Folkestone Castle, , Vol. 47, (1883), 429-65
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Bowl Barrows, (1988)
Leach,P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Ringworks, (1988)

Source: Historic England

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