Ancient Monuments

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Ringwork in Castle Wood, immediately south west of Little Knowle

A Scheduled Monument in Brenchley, Kent

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Latitude: 51.1593 / 51°9'33"N

Longitude: 0.4186 / 0°25'7"E

OS Eastings: 569221.698002

OS Northings: 142787.171445

OS Grid: TQ692427

Mapcode National: GBR NR3.BN1

Mapcode Global: VHJMY.64N3

Entry Name: Ringwork in Castle Wood, immediately south west of Little Knowle

Scheduled Date: 14 July 1933

Last Amended: 7 November 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020155

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34300

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Brenchley

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Brenchley All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Rochester


The monument includes a medieval ringwork, formerly interpreted as a motte
castle, constructed on the crest of a sandstone and clay spur of Castle Hill,
which forms part of the High Weald in Kent. The ringwork is situated north of
Castle Hill village. At its centre lies a roughly circular area, measuring up
to 60m in diameter, enclosed by a bank which may have originally supported a
timber palisade. This bank is encircled by a dry defensive ditch up to 10m
wide and about 5m deep, which has become partly waterlogged due to later
disturbance. The ditch is in turn encircled by an outer bank, which has since
been pierced to allow access to the ditch on its north eastern side. The
material from this excavation is deposited in the form of a small, curving
earthwork, projecting from the outer edge of the bank. This earthwork feature
is included in the scheduling. The ringwork defences are strengthened to the
west by the addition of a further ditch with a slight outer bank.
Access to the interior was originally by a simple causewayed entrance through
the south eastern defences, approached today by a footpath which crosses the
ringwork and leaves via a gap, created at a later date, in the north western
side of the earthwork. Several timber buildings would once have stood
within the central enclosure, although no visible remains of these survive
Evidence for subsequent reuse of the monument includes a small circular mound
and a rectangular enclosure, which partly overlie the encircling bank in the
north and west. Metal working slag has also been recovered from the surface of
the bank on its north eastern side, indicating that the monument may have been
reused for small scale industrial activity.
The fenceline, which crosses the north eastern edge of the monument, is
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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 some subsequent disturbance, the ringwork in Castle Wood immediately
south west of Little Knowle survives well, and retains archaeological and
environmental evidence relating to its construction and original use, as well
as its abandonment and later reuse. Furthermore, the presence of such a
stronghold in this part of Kent is of considerable historical importance in
contributing towards our understanding of the early post-Conquest geography of
this region.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Saunders, A, Kent Defence Study: site entry for Brenchley Castle, (1999)
Rogers, W, 13th/14th century pottery,
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Survey
Source Date: 1963

Source: Historic England

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