Bletchingley castle (ringwork and bailey)


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


Ordnance survey map of Bletchingley castle (ringwork and bailey)
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Tandridge (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 32212 50569

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 the partial infilling of the outer ditch on the western side and the limited disturbance caused by excavation and building works in the 19th and 20th centuries, the ringwork and bailey at Bletchingley survives well and large areas, especially within the ringwork, lie apparently undisturbed. The survival of part of a Norman domestic building is also a rarity and one which adds to the diversity of features within the castle. The potential of the monument for the recovery of further evidence of the date and manner of occupation of the castle is high. As a result of the small-scale excavations, the level of archaeological documentation is good.


The monument includes a castle of the Norman period which comprises an inner near-circular enclosure, or ringwork, and an outer enclosure, or bailey. The ringwork is defined by a massive ditch on the northern and eastern sides which still survives to a depth of over 6m. On the inner edge is an earthen bank or rampart which stands to between 1.4 and 2.4m above the level of the land in the interior. The ditch is spanned on the NE side by a causeway 3m wide which marks the original access route into the inner part of the castle. The bank and ditch of the ringwork gives way on the south side to the steep natural slope of the hill, while on the western side it has been partially-levelled to make room for a large Victorian house. The main building within the ringwork was a house some 24m square. Its undercroft survives in places to a height of 2.5m beneath rubble from the house's collapse. The house had living quarters on the first floor, to which access was gained via stairs at the NW and SE corners. The house has been partially excavated, but the north-eastern half remains uninvestigated. The outer defences comprise a bank and ditch which surround the ringwork on all sides except the south, although they have been levelled on the western side. To the north and east the bank survives to a maximum height of 1.6m and averages 7m across. Between the inner and outer defences was the bailey, where ancillary buildings such as stables and storage huts were sited. The modern structures within the castle earthworks, the access roads and service trenches and all fences are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath each (except Castle Place, which has cellars) is included.

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.

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Books and journals
Turner, D, 'Surrey Archaeological Bulletin' in Bletchingley Castle Excavation, Parts I-III, (), 214-6
Leach, P, Monument Class Description - Ringworks, (1988)
Musty T, DoE AM107, (1976)
Surrey Antiquity 2149,


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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