Ancient Monuments

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Castle Hill ringwork

A Scheduled Monument in Welbourn, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.0774 / 53°4'38"N

Longitude: -0.5563 / 0°33'22"W

OS Eastings: 496813.431807

OS Northings: 354326.070671

OS Grid: SK968543

Mapcode National: GBR DN9.45W

Mapcode Global: WHGJR.FXB5

Entry Name: Castle Hill ringwork

Scheduled Date: 10 December 1951

Last Amended: 11 February 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020436

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33129

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Welbourn

Built-Up Area: Welbourn

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Welbourn St Chad

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval ringwork
known as Castle Hill, located in the northern part of Welbourn village.
Following the Conquest, land at Welbourn was held by Robert Malet. The manor
lands were divided, and in the early 12th century land granted to the lord of
Bayeux became the manor of `le Northalle', referred to in a document of 1158
as being walled in stone. The other part of the manor, lying to the south of
Castle Hill, was known as `le Southalle' and was first mentioned in the 14th
century. The two manors remained independent throughout the 13th century, but
by 1334 both were held by Isabel de Vescy. The amalgamation of the two estates
is thought to have led to the abandonment of `Northalle', and in 1374 the site
was said to be waste and entirely without buildings.

The ringwork is roughly D-shaped in plan and is enclosed by a bank and
external ditch. The central area measures approximately 60m in width and lies
at about the same level as the surrounding ground. The interior formerly
accommodated the buildings referred to in a document of 1288, including a hall
with two chambers, a kitchen, brewhouse, oxhouse, cowshed and sheep fold. The
document also indicates that there was a wall, surmounted by a tower, and a
ditch around the court. A geophysical survey has indicated the survival of
buried building remains, mainly on the western and central parts of the
ringwork, and suggested the presence of other features, such as an oven and
pits, concentrated on the eastern side of the interior. The survey also
identified a circular feature, approximately 15m in diameter, on the west side
of the ringwork, thought to be the remains of the tower mentioned in the 13th
century description of the manor. Limited archaeological excavation has
provided evidence of building remains dated to the 13th to 14th century.

The D-shaped ringwork is enclosed by an external bank and ditch curving round
the north, east and west sides, with a gap in the bank to the north east. The
bank stands up to 2m above the level of the interior and 4.5m above the base
of the ditch at the north western corner. Partial archaeological excavation
has revealed two phases of construction, one including stonework believed to
represent the wall mentioned in the 12th century documents. The external
ditch, enclosing the north, east and part of the west side of the ringwork, is
partly water-filled and measures up to 15m in width and 2m deep. At the south
western corner of the ringwork the bank is included in the scheduling.
However, the ditch has been infilled and is obscured by modern residential
development, and this portion of the external ditch is not therefore included
in the scheduling.

The bank and ditch are not evident in the same form on the south side of the
ringwork, where it is bounded by the earthwork remains of three parallel
ditches, visible as linear depressions up to 0.5m deep. The inner, or
northern, ditch measures about 12m in width and is thought to indicate a
continuation of the southern arm of the ringwork's external ditch. The middle
ditch measures approximately 6m in width and is separated from the inner ditch
by a low bank thought to include stonework from the remains of a wall. The
outer ditch is partly evident to the south of the middle ditch. Geophysical
survey identified the remains of a wall along the northern edge of the inner
ditch, thought to be part of the curtain wall.

All fence and display board posts, telegraph poles and modern garden walls 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.

The ringwork known as Castle Hill survives well as a series of earthwork and
buried remains. It is a rare example of a ringwork with a stone curtain wall
rather than a timber palisade. The areas of raised ground will preserve
evidence of land use prior to the construction of the monument, and water-
logging will preserve evidence of organic remains, such as seeds, leather and
timber, thus providing an insight into the economic and domestic activity of
the site. As a result of documentary research, geophysical survey and partial
archaeological excavation, the site is quite well understood. These
archaeological investigations have demonstrated the presence of buried
archaeological remains which will provide valuable information about the
layout and dating of the complex, contributing to our understanding of the
economic, social and military activities of a significant feature in medieval

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Downham, EA, Ancient Earthworks in Lincolnshire, (1912)
Healey, RH, Roffe, DR, Some medieval and later earthworks in South Lincolnshire, (1990), 33-35
Archaeological Project Services, Archaeological evaluation of Castle Hill, Welbourn, (2000)
GSB Prospection, Geophysical survey: Welbourn Castle, Lincolnshire, (1999)
Lindsey Archaeological Services, Welbourn Castle: Desk-based assessment and earthwork survey, (1999)

Source: Historic England

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