Ancient Monuments

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Medieval ringwork in Burgate Wood

A Scheduled Monument in Burgate, Suffolk

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Latitude: 52.3387 / 52°20'19"N

Longitude: 1.0475 / 1°2'51"E

OS Eastings: 607708.355621

OS Northings: 275546.587753

OS Grid: TM077755

Mapcode National: GBR TJ8.7NN

Mapcode Global: VHL9D.3HM1

Entry Name: Medieval ringwork in Burgate Wood

Scheduled Date: 2 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016699

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30571

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: Burgate

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: Burgate St Mary of Pity

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich


The monument includes a medieval ringwork located about 530m west of St Mary's
Church and 300m south west of Burgate Hall moated site, which is the subject
of a separate scheduling. It lies towards the southern end of Burgate Wood,
which existed in the medieval period.

The ringwork is visible as a sub-circular enclosure with maximum overall
dimensions of approximately 76m north-south by 70m east-west, surrounded by a
ditch and inner bank. The ditch, which ranges between 8m and 15m in width and
contains some water on the northern side of the enclosure, has become partly
infilled, but remains open to a depth of up to 2.2m, measured from the
external ground surface. The bank, constructed of earth quarried from the
ditch, is up to 10m wide at the base and still stands to a height of around
1m, although originally it would have been higher and surmounted by a timber
palisade. A depression about 5m wide in the bank on the west side of the
enclosure marks the probable site of an entrance, partly infilled by the
erosion of the bank on either side, and against the outer edge of the ditch
opposite this, surrounded on the north, west and south sides by the slight
remains of a ditch, there is a sub-rectangular platform raised about 0.5m
above the prevailing ground level and measuring about 17m NNW-SSE by 8m. This
platform probably supported a building or buildings relating to the entrance.
A low, causeway-like ridge across the ditch on the opposite side of the
enclosure is not associated with any corresponding gap in the inner bank and
is unlikely to be an original feature.

The ringwork is believed to be the site of a medieval manor house, probably
dating from soon after the Norman Conquest, and fragments of pottery found on
the site provide evidence of occupation during the 11th and 12th centuries.
According to the Domesday survey of 1086, there was a substantial manor in
Burgate before 1066, held by a free man named Wulfwin. After the Conquest the
tenant was Adelhelm under the overlordship of Aubrey de Vere, and by the 13th
century it was held by the de Burgate family, thought to be descendants of
Adelhelm, in whose hands it remained until the early 15th century. The
ringwork was probably abandoned when the moated manor house to the east of it
was constructed.

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 in Burgate Wood is a well preserved example of this class of
monument, apparently constructed as a lightly defended manor house rather than
a military stronghold, and has additional interest in relation to the wood
within which it stands and to the later moated manorial site nearby.

Archaeological information relating to its construction and occupation will be
contained in earthworks and accumulated deposits within the interior of the
enclosure. Organic material, including evidence for the local environment in
the past, is also likely to be preserved in waterlogged deposits in the lower
fill of the ditch.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Copinger, W A, The Manors of Suffolk, Volume 3, (1909), 244f
Hill, P O, Echoes from the Past Life of Burgate, (1932)
Rackham, O (Dymond, Martin, E eds.), An Historical Atlas of Suffolk51

Source: Historic England

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