Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1001793
Date first listed: 15-Aug-1928
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: SO 40904 69197
Wigmore Castle, 410m north west of the Church of St. James.
Reasons for Designation
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 partial destruction, excavation and afforestation, Wigmore Castle survives comparatively well. The monument is a good example of a multi-phased defensive site and has accurate historical records and documented remodelling that greatly enhance the importance of the castle. Excavations have shown that deposits up to 4m deep are situated on the site containing important archaeological information relating to the use, construction and occupation of the castle.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 May 2015. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
This monument includes the remains of a motte and bailey castle and a medieval ringwork located at the top of a steep narrow ridge on Green Hill between the River Teme and the River Lugg. The monument survives as the visible earthworks and standing walls of a motte and bailey castle, a ringwork and an outer bailey. The motte mound is an adaptation of a natural feature and is approximately 16m high and oval in plan. It is up to 94m long and 79m wide with a 50m by 18m flat platform at the summit that contains the buried foundations of a 13m diameter shell keep and a tower. To the south east of the motte is a bailey platform defined by bank and ditch enclosing an area about 82m long and 30m wide.
On the south east of the motte and bailey castle is a ringwork defined by sandstone and ashlar curtain walls with four towers and a gatehouse. The ringwork walls enclose an area approximately 150m long and 80m wide and extend around the northern side of the motte mound. The northern boundary of the ringwork is denoted by approximately 50m of thick curtain wall with a sub square tower that is constructed on a stone plinth with the remains of window embrasures on two of the walls. About 45m of the eastern wall remains with a projecting circular tower approximately 5m in diameter that was built on a stone plinth and retains a large window embrasure with a garderobe shaft. To the south west of the eastern tower is the entrance gateway with a four centred archway set on chamfered and moulded orders divided by a portcullis grove and flanked by buttresses. On the east of the archway is a rubble vaulted room with a passageway and a doorway in its western wall. The gatehouse opens to the south east and has two external banks with external ditches. The wall continues to the south west with the remains of a window and door. A large sub divided rectangular tower is situated on the southern curtain wall. It was constructed on a moulded stone plinth with the basement of the eastern part accessed by a square headed door in the north western angle with a flight of stone steps. The ground floor has four windows and a fireplace and the first floor has four windows. Approximately 50m of curtain wall continues to the west to the south western tower. This tower is rectangular in plan with windows in the second and third stories. A room abuts the tower to the north and contains a window, chimney and an ogee headed doorway. Excavations inside the ringwork have revealed stone and timber foundations of several buildings, including stables and granaries all along the inside of the curtain wall and a large hall building approximately 10m long on the inside of the northern curtain wall.
An outer bailey is located to the east of the ringwork. This enclosure is defined by a large earthwork bank and ditch approximately 170m long and 120m wide with an entrance gap at the south eastern end.
Wigmore Castle is known from about 1069, and the earthworks date largely from the 12th century. The stone walls and buildings date from the 13th and 14th centuries and represent the castle of the Mortimer dynasty from which they controlled central Wales. The castle passed to Richard the Duke of York and became a royal castle. It was held by Sir Robert Harley for Parliament during the Civil War but was un-garrisoned, and rather than risk it being captured for the crown, it was partially demolished.
Wigmore Castle is in English Heritage Guardianship (Estate Management No. MO672) and the walls are Grade I Listed Buildings.
Further archaeological remains survive on Green Hill but these features are not currently protected because they have not been formally assessed.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: HE 5
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
NMR:- SO 46 NW 7, PastScape Monument No:- 108440, Herefordshire SMR:-179, NMR Events:- 1150836, 1304968, 1335506, 1050327 & 1457641
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing