Quince Hill ringwork, Old Warden


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


Ordnance survey map of Quince Hill ringwork, Old Warden
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)
Old Warden
National Grid Reference:
TL 13654 44523

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.

The monument at Old Warden is a good example of a ringwork with upstanding earthworks. Although partially altered the monument is considered to retain high archaeological potential, particularly in the centre of the ringwork and in the infilled ditch, which provides conditions likely to preserve organic remains.


Quince Hill ringwork is defended by earthen banks and deep ditches. The main defences consist of a ditch of `V'-shaped profile, about 10m deep and 20m wide, surrounding part of an enclosure 80m wide. On the uphill side of the enclosure is a crescent-shaped bank which is about 15m high relative to the bottom of the ditch and tall enough to give a clear view over the crest of the hill. On the downhill side, the natural slope afforded some protection and less massive defences may have been necessary. On this side any earthworks have since been levelled but the line of the infilled surrounding ditch can be observed as a slight break in slope of the hillside. The main defences were further strengthened, on the uphill side, by an outer bank and ditch. The ditch is between 8m and 12m wide and up to 3m deep and its bottom is partially waterlogged. Within the ditch is a bank 2.5m high and there is a small terrace, 60m long by 15m wide, between the outer bank and the inner ditch. The entrance to the ringwork was on the north west side marked by a causeway across the two ditches and by slight depressions in the banks. The ringwork dates to the late Saxon or early Norman period but there is evidence of Roman settlement in the vicinity. The name, `The Quinces', was applied to the site in the 17th century and a 19th century edition of the O.S. 1 inch map shows the castle defences were then still visible as a complete circuit.

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:


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of : Volume III, (1912), 252
The Victoria History of the County of : Volume I270
The Victoria History of the County : Volume II15
Bigmore, P, Beds And Hunts Landscape, (1979), 41
Wadmore, B, The Earthworks of Bedfordshire, (1920), 117-9
'Beds Times' in Beds. Times, 10/01/1846, (1846)
'Bedfordshire Magazine' in Bedfordshire Magazine: Volume 8, (), 270
Beds. CRO W2055, (1678)
Beds. CRO: W2593, (1605)
Simco, A., Beds. SMR record, (1978)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1" Series Source Date: 1834 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


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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