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Medieval ringwork castle and associated Civil War earthwork defence

A Scheduled Monument in Newnham, Gloucestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.802 / 51°48'7"N

Longitude: -2.452 / 2°27'7"W

OS Eastings: 368926.033704

OS Northings: 211575.276572

OS Grid: SO689115

Mapcode National: GBR FY.XLDK

Mapcode Global: VH86Z.GZ20

Entry Name: Medieval ringwork castle and associated Civil War earthwork defence

Scheduled Date: 18 December 2012

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1411491

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Newnham

Built-Up Area: Newnham

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Newnham St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester

Summary

The monument includes a medieval ringwork castle, and a Civil War defensive earthwork later adapted as a promenade in the C18 and C19.

Source: Historic England

Details

The RINGWORK CASTLE is situated immediately north-west of Castle House, and is set towards the end of a spur of raised ground above the High Street, forming a strategic defence of the bend in the River Severn. The ringwork dates from circa 1066-1086. It includes the earthwork remains of the former ringwork castle, roughly oval on plan, formed from earthen ramparts up to circa 2.5m high surrounding a saucer-shaped, hollow enclosure, with the remains of an outer bank and ditch to the south and north-western sides; it encompasses a total area of around 0.3ha. The interior of the enclosure is approximately up to 60m long NW-SE, and has an uneven surface, possibly the result of antiquarian excavation, and perhaps also indicating buried features. A circle of deciduous trees is planted around the ringwork, with a specimen pine at the centre. It appears that the eastern bank has been thrown down to fill its own ditch, and thus even out the approach to the site from the town; and the western bank has been replaced by a modern raised walkway which extends northwards. A bridge extends from the north-western corner of the ringwork to the raised Civil War defensive earthwork which runs northwards from the ringwork. The bridge, which appears to date from the C19 and C20, has squared and coursed rubble-stone abutments with prominent strap pointing, a concrete deck over a rectangular opening, and timber parapets with X-bracing. The remains of earlier abutments survive in the form of fragments of rubble-stone walls with dressed kerbstones to either end of the existing abutments. There is no visible evidence that a bailey was associated with the ringwork castle. One source suggests that it may have been situated to the east, but if there was a bailey, it may have been located to the north and has been overlaid by the Civil War earthworks.

The extent of the CIVIL WAR DEFENSIVE EARTHWORK is broadly defined by the scarp on the western side, and by the lane called The Green to the east. It includes the wide, flat-topped earthwork, circa 163m long and circa 25m wide at its widest, narrowing at the northern end. It has sloping edges to the north and east; the western side is bounded by a ditch. Below this, the former bank has been replaced by a raised walkway of modern date, which extends from the similar walkway below the ringwork on the same side. A short flight of uneven stone steps is set into the narrow northern terminus of the earthwork, which has been truncated at its north-western corner by the creation of a driveway to a house built to the west in the late C19 or early C20. The earthwork slopes steeply down into the ditch on the western side, and slopes more gently from its flat top towards the eastern edge. The surface is uneven in parts; it has a gravel path laid out from north to south towards the western side, and traces of an earlier path running more or less parallel to the eastern side. An avenue of trees is laid out along the north-south axis, with a specimen pine to the northern end. The trees, like those on the ringwork, are probably associated with the C18 and C19 adoption of the monument as public recreation space. Beyond the current northern terminus of the earthwork, the remains become fragmentary; it has been breached to create a wide entrance way, and exists north-west of this opening only as a possible bank set below the edge of the scarp, which does not survive well; small sections are identifiable but the extent is not possible to define, and the earthworks are much eroded.

EXCLUSIONS

The benches and their concrete bases, bollards, steps at the northern end of the earthwork, telegraph poles and cables, notice boards, lamps posts, fence posts, paving stones and commemorative stones are all excluded from the scheduling, though the ground beneath them is included.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The ringwork castle and adjacent Civil War earthwork are scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Archaeological interest: the monument includes two elements, a medieval ringwork castle and a Civil War fieldwork, both of which are classes of monument important for our understanding of the period they represent;
* Rarity: there are perhaps only 200 ringworks identified in England, and as one of a restricted number and very restricted range of monuments of the period, the example at Newnham is of particular significance to our understanding of the period; and surviving Civil War fieldworks number only around 150, and are thus rare in the national context;
* Survival: both the ringwork and the Civil War fieldwork survive to a significant height above ground, with little loss or erosion despite some minor antiquarian excavation to the interior of the ringwork and the slight truncation of the earthwork;
* Potential: the ringwork has significant potential to reveal evidence of structures and occupation, and the ditches and ground beneath the banks may retain valuable environmental information; the Civil War fieldwork has some potential to reveal technical details of its construction;
* Group value: the grouping of the two defences demonstrates the long duration of the value of the site in the defence of the town.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Gloucestershire: Volume X, (1972), 29-36
Verey, D, Brooks, A, The Buildings of England Gloucestershire II: The Vale and the Forest of Dean , (2002), 615
Other
Gloucestershire Sites and Monuments Record Summary Report for Area 5177: Medieval castle ringwork dating to the C11 and located at the south of Newnham village,
Gloucestershire Sites and Monuments Record Summary Report for Area 5183: Civil War defences and siege,
National Monuments Record Complete Monument Report: 111772 Norman ringwork castle earthwork, Newnham,
National Monuments Record Complete Monument Report: 111785 Civil War Town Defences, Newnham,

Source: Historic England

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