Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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The Ring, an animal pound 100m west of Nills Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Pontesbury, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.6389 / 52°38'20"N

Longitude: -2.895 / 2°53'42"W

OS Eastings: 339530.888822

OS Northings: 304952.533401

OS Grid: SJ395049

Mapcode National: GBR BB.6XLC

Mapcode Global: WH8BY.HXNS

Entry Name: The Ring, an animal pound 100m west of Nills Farm

Scheduled Date: 11 December 1951

Last Amended: 9 May 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019827

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33837

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Pontesbury

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Pontesbury

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of an animal pound,
known as The Ring, which is situated on the gentle upper east facing slope of
Nills Hill. Documentary sources indicate that in the 15th century cattle
rustling in this area was a serious problem, and the construction of animal
pounds helped to protect herds from thieves who were a constant threat.
The Ring is circular in plan with an internal diameter of approximately 23m.
It is defined by two ditches separated by an earthen bank about 5m wide and
standing up to 1.2m high. The external ditch is also about 5m wide, the
eastern side of which is now apparent as a shallow depression having been
largely infilled. It will, however, survive as a buried feature. The internal
ditch is about 3.5m wide. The arrangement of these earthworks increases the
height of the bank, both internally and externally, and so strengthens the

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

The term animal pound is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word `pund' meaning
enclosure, and is used to describe stock-proof areas for confining stray or
illegally pastured stock and legally-kept animals rounded up at certain times
of the year from areas of common grazing. The earliest documentary references
to pounds date from the 12th century, and they continued to be constructed and
used throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods. Most surviving
examples are likely to be less than three centuries old, and most will have
fallen into disuse in the late 19th or early 20th century. Animal pounds are
usually located in villages or towns though some lie in more open locations,
particularly on the edge of old woodlands and commons. Construction methods
vary according to the availability of building materials: stone, brick,
fencing, iron railings and earthworks being used to enclose areas ranging from
4m by 6m to over 0.5ha. The walls are normally about 1.5m high, although
greater heights are not uncommon as attempts to prevent poundbreach. In
addition to stock control, animals were sometimes taken as a `distress'
(seizure of property in lieu of debt or to enforce payment) and kept under the
care of the pinder or hayward until redeemed. Pounds are usually unroofed and
have a single entrance, although some have additional low entrances to allow
the passage of sheep and pigs while retaining larger stock. Other features
include rudimentary shelters for the pound-keeper, laid floors, drainage
channels, troughs and internal partitions to separate the beasts.
Animal pounds are widely distributed throughout England, with particular
concentrations in the west and Midlands. About 250 examples are known to
survive in fair condition, with perhaps another 150 examples recorded either
as remains, or from documentary evidence alone. Pounds illustrate a
specialised aspect of past social organisation and animal husbandry, and
reflect the use and former appearance of the surrounding landscape. All
examples surviving in good condition, particularly those supported by
historical evidence for ownership and function, are considered worthy of

The animal pound 100m west of Nills Farm is a well-preserved example of this
class of monument and is a rare surviving example of a pound defined by
earthworks. It represents an important aspect of the peasant rural economy of
the later medieval period in this part of Shropshire. The bank and ditches
will retain information about their construction. Organic remains preserved in
the buried ground surface beneath the bank and within the ditches will provide
information about the local environment and the use of the land prior to and
following the construction of the pound.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire: Volume I, (1908), 381
Baugh, GC (Editor), The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire: Volume IV, (1989), 116-17
Tyler, A, SMR site record 01049, (1981)

Source: Historic England

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