Elmley Castle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wychavon (District Authority)
Elmley Castle
National Grid Reference:
SO 97879 40234


Elmley Castle 835m south west of the church of St. Mary.

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 levelling, excavation and afforestation, Elmley Castle survives comparatively well. Elmley Castle is a good example of a multiphased defensive site and has accurate historical records and documented remodelling that greatly enhance the importance of the monument. The monument will contain important archaeological information relating to the use, construction and occupation.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 20 May 2015. This 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. As such they do not yet have the full descriptions of their modernised counterparts available. Please contact us if you would like further information.

This monument includes the remains of a medieval ringwork and bailey located within two Iron Age hillforts at the top of a prominent spur on the northern slopes of Bredon Hill. The monument survives as the visible earthworks and buried features of two hillforts, a ringwork, a bailey and a fishpond. The top of the hill is circumvented by two large hillforts that are defined by large earthwork banks up to 8m wide with external quarry ditches. An entrance gap is situated on the eastern side and an inturned entrance gap on the west. On the southern, western and northern sides, the banks and ditches have been modified during the medieval period. An elliptical ringwork is located on the central and southern part of the castle site and is up to 180m long and 118m wide defined by a large bank up to 13m wide with an external quarry ditch. Entrance gaps are located on the eastern and western sides and building platforms are situated in the centre. A sub rectangular bailey approximately 245m long and 150m wide was constructed to the south west of the ringwork. The bailey enclosure is defined by the foundations of a stone wall with turrets to the north and the south. Excavations inside the bailey have revealed stone foundations of several buildings, including a sub circular keep situated at the northern angle of the bailey. To the south of the bailey is a sub rectangular fishpond cut into the escarpment of the hill. It is approximately 60m long and 45m wide with a small dam and leat at the western end. The ringwork was constructed by Robert Despenser about 1080 and the bailey was added between 1130 and 1140. In 1317 Hugh le Despenser was ordered to fortify the castle and to garrison it with twenty footmen. In 1321 Elmley Castle was taken by rebel barons under Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, and suffered considerable damage. A chapel was recorded at the castle in 1308.

Further archaeological remains survive on Bredon Hill, but 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:
WT 280
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Doubleday, AH, Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Worcester, (1913), 338-346
PastScape Monument Nos:- 1385423, 118105 & 118110


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

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