Ringwork castle in Bailey's Wood


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014690

Date first listed: 17-Jan-1969

Date of most recent amendment: 01-Aug-1996


Ordnance survey map of Ringwork castle in Bailey's Wood
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Jan-2019 at 12:16:33.


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

County: Staffordshire

District: Staffordshire Moorlands (District Authority)

Parish: Biddulph

National Grid Reference: SJ 88938 59476


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.

The ringwork castle within Bailey's Wood survives well and represents a good example of this class of monument. Part excavation has indicated that the interior will retain structural and artefactual evidence for the buildings which originally existed here, and will provide information regarding the activities and status of the site's inhabitants. Additionally the naturally silted ditches will retain archaeological deposits relating to the economy of the inhabitants and to the environment in which they lived. The importance of the ringwork castle is enhanced by its association with the Biddulph family who abandoned the site in the 16th century in favour of a new mansion 0.85km to the north east which is the subject of a separate scheduling. The ringwork castle in the Bailey's Wood is accessible to the public and serves as a valuable public amenity.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a ringwork castle situated within Bailey's Wood to the north of Biddulph. The castle is located in a strategic position at the eastern end of a prominent ridge of land with the ground falling away steeply to the Biddulph Brook to the north, east and south. The castle is thought to have originally belonged to the de Vernon family of Alton but later became the property of the Biddulph family. In the 16th century the family moved to their new house 0.85km to the north east and the ringwork castle is believed to have been abandoned at this time. The defensive earthworks enclose a central area of approximately 0.14ha and include a rampart with a bank, external ditch and traces of a counterscarp bank along the eastern and southern sides of the site. It is thought that the natural steepness of the slope made the construction of a ditch and counterscarp on the northern side of the site unnecessary, although there is no evidence for a counterscarp along the south western side either. The internal bank survives as a low earthwork for much of its circuit except across the neck of the ridge on the western side of the castle where it stands to a height of 2m above the interior. In 1967 an excavation through a section of the rampart indicated that the castle defences were strengthened by the addition of a further layer of clay to the rampart during the 12th century and traces of a timber palisade along the top of the inner bank were also located. The ditch averages 9m in width and is up to 3m deep below the top of the bank except in the southern part of the site where it has, in effect, been created by terracing and steepening the natural hillside and, as a result, is a less prominent feature. Access into the interior is by means of a 3m wide causeway across the north western defences which is thought to represent the original entrance to the site. The interior is almost oval in plan and measures approximately 45m north-south by 30m east-west. No internal earthworks are visible on the ground surface but an excavation within the eastern part of the interior recovered evidence for the occupation of the ringwork castle including traces of timber structures with substantial post holes which were replaced in the 13th century by a building with stone foundations. Large quantities of 13th, 14th, and 15th century pottery and bronze and iron objects were located within the interior of this structure. The lack of 16th century artefacts and evidence for occupation beyond this date confirms that the site was abandoned during the 16th century. The fence posts in the south western part of the site are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath these features 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.

Legacy System number: 21640

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Kennedy, J, Biddulph - A Local History, (1952), 21
Bestwick, J L, 'Transactions of the Biddulph Historical Society' in Excavation At Lea Forge, Biddulph, Interim Survey, , Vol. 1, (1968), 6-9

End of official listing