Castle Ring: a large univallate hillfort on Oak Hill, 600m south east of Crows Nest Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012869

Date first listed: 28-Jul-1995


Ordnance survey map of Castle Ring: a large univallate hillfort on Oak Hill, 600m south east of Crows Nest Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Worthen with Shelve

National Grid Reference: SJ 37200 01080


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

Reasons for Designation

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen. The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by outworks. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Large univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north. Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Castle Ring large univallate hillfort survives well and is a good example of its class. The southern entrance of the hillfort has a fine simple inturned entrance which remains apparently undisturbed. The rampart and ditch will contain archaeological evidence concerning the method of construction and the nature and period of occupation. The interior of the site, which appears completely undisturbed, will contain evidence of habitation. Environmental material relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed and the economy of its inhabitants, will be preserved in the ditch fill and sealed on the old land surface beneath the southern rampart. The hillfort is one of several such monuments which occupy defensive positions in the south Shropshire hills. When considered in relation to this group, Castle Ring hillfort contributes important information relating to the settlement of this area of upland during the Iron Age.


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


The monument includes Castle Ring, a large univallate hillfort in a naturally strong defensive position on the summit of Oak Hill, a steep sided spur at the north end of Stiperstones. The enclosed area of the hillfort is roughly triangular in plan with maximum internal dimensions of 280m NNE to SSW by 190m transversely giving an internal area of approximately 3.8ha. The artificial defences are designed to enhance the natural strength of the site. The natural hillslopes fall precipitously on all sides except the south, the natural approach along the ridge top. Here the earthworks are at their most elaborate and include a strong cross-ridge rampart 8m wide and 3.5m high with an outer ditch on the south side 5m wide and 1.2m deep set across the narrow neck of the spur. The rampart is interrupted approximately midway along its length by a slightly offset, inturned entrance 6m wide. Around the south east side of the hillfort the already steep natural hillslope has been cut back slightly to form a well defined scarp slope up to 4.8m high. This ends after 260m fading out on the natural slopes around the north eastern tip of the spur. Here the hillfort relies for defence solely on the precipitous nature of the hillslope. Around the west and north west sides the natural hillslope has been cut back to form a scarp slope, up to 4m high with an outer berm or silted ditch averaging 3m wide. There is no visible evidence of habitation in the interior of the hillfort, the surface of which follows the natural contours of the hill, but the buried remains of such features will survive beneath the surface.

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: 19203

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing