Hales Castle: a ringwork and associated earthworks on Coles Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Hales Castle: a ringwork and associated earthworks on Coles Hill
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Mendip (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 79748 44223

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.

Hales Castle survives as a good example of the smaller size range of its class. The survival of part of an associated field system is an unusual feature and will provide evidence for contemporary land use.


The monument includes a ringwork and associated earthworks situated on top of the lower end of a gently sloping spur below Roddenbury Hill. The ringwork is roughly circular, with an internal area of 0.11ha. enclosed by univallate earthworks. The defences are greatest around the upper and lower parts of the site, relying more on the natural slopes at the sides, and consist of a bank 0.3m-1.2m high internally, an external ditch 0.2m-1.6m deep (the ramparts overall being 1.6m-2.6m high) and a slight counterscarp 0.2m-0.3m high. Both inner bank and counterscarp have flattened tops. The interior of the ringwork slopes down to the north west and is naturally higher than the surrounding land except on the south east. The entrance to the interior is on the north west, from downhill, and consists of a slight causeway across the ditch and a simple gap in the inner bank. A circular hollow 0.4m deep inside the entrance with an associated spoil mound may be the site of a well. Outside the ringwork and adjoining it or abutting it is a system of field banks, scarps and ditches 0.1m-0.4m high/deep. The scarping indicates that the small fields formed by these were regularly ploughed at some time, perhaps in the Middle Ages. On the north they incorporate what is possibly an unfinished bailey.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


PRN 24461, (1993)


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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