Ancient Monuments

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Ringwork and cultivation remains 260m west of St Michael's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Chirbury with Brompton, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.579 / 52°34'44"N

Longitude: -3.0953 / 3°5'43"W

OS Eastings: 325876.754046

OS Northings: 298476.115533

OS Grid: SO258984

Mapcode National: GBR B2.BNLT

Mapcode Global: WH7B3.FF8P

Entry Name: Ringwork and cultivation remains 260m west of St Michael's Church

Scheduled Date: 1 March 1974

Last Amended: 9 May 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019830

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33840

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Chirbury with Brompton

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Chirbury

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a ringwork and
associated cultivation remains on the outskirts of the village of Chirbury, to
the west of St Michael's Church. The area which is now occupied by the core of
the village is considered to have been the site of a fortified enclosure, or
burh, and is possibly the place referred to in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as
Cyricbyrig, which was founded by Aethelflaed (Ethelfleda), sister of Edward
the Elder, in AD 915. The existence of this settlement is believed to have
influenced the location of the ringwork, which occupies a commanding ridge top
position on the opposite side of the steep-sided valley to the west of the

The ringwork would appear to have been originally roughly square, enclosing an
area of approximately 0.3ha. The defences are visible as upstanding earthworks
on two sides: on the western side by an earthen bank about 10m wide, which
stands to height of 1.3m externally and 0.4m internally; and on the northern
side by an earthen bank about 5m wide, which stands to a height 0.9m
externally and 0.4m internally. The material used for the construction of
these banks was obtained from external ditches, approximately 8m wide. Apart
from a slight depression along part of the northern side, these ditches have
been infilled during the subsequent cultivation of the area and now survive as
buried features. The eastern extent of the ringwork is defined by the valley
side. Running along the edge of the steepest part of this slope is a low bank,
5m wide, which is considered to be part of the defensive circuit and which was
subsquently used as a plough headland (a strip of land defining the edge of an
area of cultivation). Along the southern part this side, where the ground
slopes more gently, the defences have been levelled by cultivation. Although
this part of the defensive circuit is no longer visible at ground level, the
buried remains of a bank and an external ditch, both about 8m wide, are
thought to survive. The defences defining the southern extent of the ringwork
have been modified to some extent by the steep-sided hollow way of the
neighbouring road. The original access into the interior of ringwork was via a
4m entrance passage through the western bank. It is associated with an
external raised causeway, about 5m wide and 0.7m high, which appears to be a
later addition.

In 1958 a small-scale archaeological excavation was undertaken to examine the
nature of the defences and to provide evidence for date of occupation although
this proved inconclusive. Extensive remains of post-medieval cultivation
strips surround the ringwork on its western and northern sides. A sample of
these remains, 15m wide to the north and defined by the later hedge boundary
to the west, are included in the scheduling to preserve the relationship
between them and the ringwork.

All fence posts 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.

Despite modification to parts of the defensive circuit, the ringwork 260m west
of St Michael's Church is a reasonably well-preserved example of this class of
monument. Rectangular or square ringworks are very rare nationally, the
majority being circular or irregular in plan. Within this example the remains
of the structures that once stood here are expected to survive as buried
features, which together with the associated artefacts and organic remains,
will provide valuable evidence about the activities and life styles of those
who inhabited the ringwork. In addition, organic remains preserved in the
buried ground surfaces beneath the ramparts 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 ringwork. The importance of the
ringwork is further enhanced by its proximity to the late Anglo-Saxon
settlement of Chirbury.

The cultivation remains surrounding the ringwork and within its interior
demonstrate the nature of the agricultural practices in this area in the
post-medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Watson, M, Musson, C, Shropshire from the Air. Man and the Landscape, (1993), 55
Wainwright, F T, 'Shropshire Newsletter' in The Chirbury Excavation (1958), , Vol. 10, (1960), 1

Source: Historic England

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