Ringwork and bailey known as Whitehouse Camp, 200m north of Trelan Farm


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


Ordnance survey map of Ringwork and bailey known as Whitehouse Camp, 200m north of Trelan Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Sep-2019 at 11:33:15.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
Michaelchurch Escley
National Grid Reference:
SO 29598 35670

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 ringwork and bailey 200m north of Trelan Farm is a good example of this class of monument, and its form and scale are unusual. The ringwork mound will contain details of its method of construction, including post holes for timber palisades and the structure on top of the mound. The artificially steepened scarp of the bailey will similarly retain evidence for the defences which surmounted it. The unusual northern entrance to the ringwork which approaches directly from outside rather than through the bailey will preserve details of the gateway buried within the banks to either side, and evidence for structures such as a bridge will be preserved in the fills which have accumulated in the ditch. These fills will also contain environmental evidence for the activities which took place at the site during its construction and subsequent use. The old ground surface sealed beneath the ringwork will retain environmental evidence for land use immediately prior to the monument's construction. Post holes and foundations of structures within the ringwork and the bailey enclosure will be preserved as buried features, and environmental and perhaps artefactual evidence will be preserved in features such as storage and refuse pits, which will elucidate the function of the buildings and the activities which took place in these enclosures.

In its prominent ridge top position, with sweeping views across the surrounding land, the monument is one of a large number of medieval defended sites in the Marches. As such it forms part of the wider picture of the defences of the county at that time, and when viewed alongside other examples it contributes to our understanding of the social and political organisation of medieval Herefordshire. Although on private land, the monument can be clearly seen from the Cefn Track which runs across its south western angle.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a ringwork and bailey situated on the crest of the Cefn Ridge, between the River Monnow and Escley Brook. The ringwork remains include an earthen bank, enclosing a roughly oval area orientated NNW-SSE, with a crescentic bailey wrapped around it to the south, south west, and south east, and contiguous with it to the north. The ringwork bank averages c.4m wide and 1.2m high, however at the south east end it rises and widens, to form a sub-rectangular mound measuring c.8m north-south by 16m east-west, and c.2m high. The overall dimensions of the fortification are therefore c.38m x c.27m. The interior of the bailey is level whereas the surrounding ground slopes gently away in all directions, thus the bank is higher on the outside. Material for its construction will have been obtained from a surrounding ditch, which has since become infilled and is now longer visible as a surface feature. The mounded ringwork is flat topped and a fallen tree has revealed a section of a horizontal masonry revetment which will have supported the sides of the mound. There may originally have been a similar revetment around the circuit of the bailey. To the north there is a gap in the ringwork bank which may have been the original entrance. There are now no surface remains of the gateway, which was probably of timber construction, and evidence for this will survive within the terminals of the bank. The bailey has been formed by terracing the natural slope to enclose an area measuring c.58m north-south and c.55m east-west within an artificial scarp. The scarp is now visible as a slight earthwork, c.0.3m high on the south and west sides, and up to 1m to the north east and east where the natural slope is somewhat steeper. The bailey scarp coincides with the ringwork in the north to either side of the entrance. In the south west quarter the scarp has been modified by the Cefn Track which now appears as a slightly sunken lane with boundary banks to either side, running south east-north west along the Cefn Ridge. The ringwork and bailey is of relatively slight construction, suggesting the site was chosen as a temporary military outpost or defended homestead rather than a permanently occupied stronghold. Its defences will have consisted of timber palisades around the ringwork bank, and along the top of the bailey scarp, evidence for which will survive below the surface.

The attractions of this prominent location, commanding impressive views across neighbouring valleys, had already been noted in the Bronze Age when the Cefn Ridge was chosen as the site of a bowl barrow, some 580m to the south east. The region is noted for its medieval defensive monuments, and the motte castle at Urishay is 3km to the north east. Both these monuments are the subject of separate schedulings.

The fences along the Cefn Track are excluded from the scheduling, although 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:
Legacy System:


held on SMR, Kay, R E, Whitehouse 'Camp', (1932)


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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