Ancient Monuments

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Cusop Castle ringwork

A Scheduled Monument in Cusop, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.0657 / 52°3'56"N

Longitude: -3.1114 / 3°6'41"W

OS Eastings: 323908.165782

OS Northings: 241397.387493

OS Grid: SO239413

Mapcode National: GBR F1.D4VD

Mapcode Global: VH780.0BZS

Entry Name: Cusop Castle ringwork

Scheduled Date: 19 May 1952

Last Amended: 9 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017253

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30078

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Cusop

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Cusop

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of Cusop Castle, a
ringwork located on a natural promontory above a stream with steeply sloping
sides in all directions except to the north east. The natural topography
suggests that the ringwork is formed from a natural out crop enhanced by
quarrying and the construction of the earthen ramparts. The castle includes a
raised irregular oval earthwork enclosure orientated east to west forming a
platform 2m-3m high and measuring 60m to 80m in diameter around its summit.
There are the remains of a ditch measuring 3m to 5m wide and up to 2.5m deep
on the north eastern and eastern sides which are less steeply defended. The
course of the ditch has been partially obscured by the modern lane in the
north western quadrant. A berm constructed on the southern and south western
sides enhance the natural slope of the ravine. The construction of Castle
House has removed the westernmost defences of the monument and this area is
therefore not included in the scheduling.

The interior of the enclosure is divided into two levels by an irregular low
bank and slope aligned east to west. Traces of an entrance causeway survive to
the east of the subdivision. Although no longer visible above ground, 19th
century records of standing fabric including a gateway, and later references
to masonry foundations, suggest that Cusop Castle included buildings
constructed from stone, the buried remains of which will survive.

The ringwork is one of a number of medieval defensive sites located in
strategic positions above the Wye Valley, the land belonging to the King at
the time of Domesday survey. The castle is believed to have been constructed
by the Cianowes or Clarowes family who were prominent in the county during the
12th to 14th centuries.

The modern post and wire fencing and animal shelter are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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.

Cusop Castle survives well with little evidence of recent disturbance. The
internal composition of the earthworks and evidence about the accommodation
provided within the enclosure, including the buried remains of former stone
buildings, will be preserved. This will enable further study of the functions
of a high status and defensive settlement within a frontier region following
the Norman Conquest. Surviving environmental deposits will provide insights
into both the agricultural regime in the area during the medieval period, and
the occupation and diets of the occupants of the monument. The combined
results of such evidence will produce information about the nature of use of
the monument and the backgrounds of the people who have occupied it.

Source: Historic England


unpublished notes in SMR, Various SMR & CAO officers, Cussop Castle,

Source: Historic England

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