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Ring cairn and Selattyn Tower on Selattyn Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Selattyn and Gobowen, Shropshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.8997 / 52°53'59"N

Longitude: -3.1076 / 3°6'27"W

OS Eastings: 325594.429661

OS Northings: 334162.607464

OS Grid: SJ255341

Mapcode National: GBR 71.P7NP

Mapcode Global: WH78K.7CGV

Entry Name: Ring cairn and Selattyn Tower on Selattyn Hill

Scheduled Date: 3 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017237

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32314

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Selattyn and Gobowen

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Selattyn St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

Details

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a Bronze Age ring
cairn and the remains of a 19th century belvedere known as Selattyn Tower,
situated on the north eastern edge of the summit of Selattyn Hill. From this
location there are extensive views of the Cheshire and Shropshire plains, and
the uplands of Shropshire and north east Wales.
The ring cairn is about 22m in diameter. Its unrevetted stony bank,
approximately 3m wide, survives to a maximum height of 0.8m, and defines a
circular area 16m across. Later activity on the site has truncated and reduced
the height of the southern part of this feature. The bank was built of rounded
and weathered boulders, probably locally derived. A small scale archaeological
excavation in 1998 revealed that the internal surface of the cairn had also
been constructed of local stone, which had been pushed into, and deposited
over, the natural sandy subsoil. During this investigation sherds of pottery,
of probable Early Bronze Age date, together with fragments of cremated bone,
were found in amongst the boulders within the interior.
Set within the ring cairn, slightly south of the centre, are the remains of
Selattyn Tower, a belvedere (or summerhouse built to give a view of
surrounding countryside). It was constructed in 1847 to commemorate the death
of Prince Gwen, a sixth century prince, who, according to legend, was killed
during a battle between the British and the Saxons near Morlas Brook, which
runs close to the hill. During the construction of the tower 12 urns each
containing burnt bones were discovered.
The tower is a square construction, measuring 3.8m externally and 2.8m
internally, and is built of blocks of local limestone and millstone grit.
An early 20th century photograph shows the structure in a state of collapse
and without a roof, with the walls standing about 4.5m high. In 1999 the
tower, which then stood to a maximum height of 3.5m, was partly rebuilt
using some of the collapsed stonework. There is a doorway in the north western
wall, a splayed window opening in the south eastern wall, and a fireplace in
the south western wall with a projecting chimney stack. The original stone
floor was found when fallen masonry was removed from within the tower. The
commanding views from the structure led to its use during World War II as an
observation post by the Home Guard.

MAP EXTRACT
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

A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank of
stones up to 20m in diameter surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may
be kerbed on the inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with small
uprights or laid boulders. Ring cairns are found mainly in upland areas of
England and are mostly discovered and authenticated by fieldwork and ground
level survey, although a few are large enough to be visible on aerial
photographs. They often occur in pairs or small groups of up to four examples.
Occasionally they lie within round barrow cemeteries. Ring cairns are
interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and Middle Bronze Age date. The exact
nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood, but excavation has
revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and
pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities associated with the burial
rituals. Many areas of upland have not yet been surveyed in detail and the
number of ring cairns in England is not accurately known. However, available
evidence indicates a population of between 250 and 500 examples. As a
relatively rare class of monument exhibiting considerable variation in form,
all positively identified examples retaining significant archaeological
deposits are considered worthy of preservation.

Despite alteration and disturbance in modern times the ring cairn on Selattyn
Hill remains a good example of this class of monument. Much survives to
indicate the methods of construction and the use of the site for various
ritual activities, including human burial. The information provided by the
archaeological investigations confirmed the function and date of the monument,
and have indicated the degree to which buried deposits survive. The buried
ground surface beneath the cairn will preserve evidence for the prehistoric
landscape in which it was built. The site is therefore very valuable in
advancing our understanding of Early Bronze Age society.
Selattyn Tower is an important historic landmark constructed in the local
vernacular tradition. Its signifance is enhanced by its military role during
World War II and by the archaeological investigations carried out in the 20th
century.
The importance of the ring cairn and the tower is further enhanced by their
amenity value. They are accessible to the public and are a valuable
educational resource. Selattyn Tower is a local landmark.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Hannaford, H R, An Evaluation on a Bronze Age Ring Cairn on Selattyn Hill, (1998)
Hannaford, H R, An Evaluation on a Bronze Age Ring Cairn on Selattyn Hill, (1998)
Wynne Ffoulkes, W, 'Archaeologia Cambrensis' in Tumulus, Gorsedd Wen, , Vol. 2, 1851, (1851), 9-19
Other
Hannaford, H, (1999)
Reid, ML, A Structural Survey of Selattyn Tower, (1998)

Source: Historic England

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