Blunts Hall ringwork


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012098

Date first listed: 03-Feb-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 13-Jul-1995


Ordnance survey map of Blunts Hall ringwork
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Braintree (District Authority)

Parish: Witham

National Grid Reference: TL 80759 14346


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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.

Blunts Hall ringwork survives well as both upstanding earthworks and, as partial excavation has demonstrated, also as buried features. The raised enclosure will seal an old landsurface as well as retaining archaeological information relating to the occupation of the site. The partially infilled ditches have been shown to contain evidence relating to the construction of the site. The waterfilled sections of the ditch will retain environmental information relating to the economy of its inhabitants and the landscape in which they lived. In addition the site is well documented in historical sources. It is a good example of how adulterine castles, a feature of the 'anarchy` period sprang up in the mid 12th century and how they rapidly became abandoned in the relative stability following Henry II's accession in 1154.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument at Blunts Hall is situated on gently sloping land, overlooking the River Brain 700m south west of Chipping Hill church. It includes a sub-rectangular ringwork which measures 84m north-south by 76m east-west. The ringwork consists of an enclosure, the interior of which has been raised to about 1.2m higher than the surrounding ground level. The prominent internal bank survives to a height of 3.5m above the level of the island and an average width of c.6m. This bank is surrounded by a ditch which survives as a waterfilled earthwork to the north and is infilled to the south. To the north and west the ditch varies in width from 10m to 15m, with an average depth of c.1.5m deep. To the east and south the ditch has become infilled. It is now visible as a shallow depression 0.2m deep and survives as a buried feature. A small modern wooden footbridge gives access to the island over the northern side of the ditch. At the south east corner of the enclosure is a conical- shaped mound 3.5m in diameter, which forms part of the rampart and is 0.8m higher than the inner bank.

Limited excavation of the centre of the enclosure and through the bank and ditch was undertaken in 1958. This yielded occupation debris including a hearth and a possible pottery kiln. The site has been dated to the 12th century by the unglazed pottery recovered from the excavation along with bone and oyster shells.

Blunts Hall appears in Domesday as a manorial site owned in part by Eustace of Boulogne and in part as the Honor of Peverell by Humfrey. The site subsequently fell into the hands of Henry I who granted it to Stephen who, after his succession to the throne, granted it to Geoffrey de Mandeville. From documentary evidence the ringwork is considered to have been constructed in 1141, but as with most adulterine castles (baronial castles erected without a royal charter, commonly during the 'anarchy` of Stephen's reign) it was abandoned during the reign of Henry II.

The sheds, paths, fences, footbridge and greenhouse are all excluded from the scheduling though the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 20770

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Trump, DH MA PhD, 'Transactions of the Essex Archaeology Society' in Blunts Hall, Witham, , Vol. 1, (1961), 37-40

End of official listing