Benefield Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015535

Date first listed: 10-Dec-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Feb-1997


Ordnance survey map of Benefield Castle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Northamptonshire

District: East Northamptonshire (District Authority)

Parish: Benefield

National Grid Reference: SP 98719 88460


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 remains of Benefield Castle survive well as substantial earthwork features occupying a prominent position in the landscape. Although there are no building remains standing above ground, archaeological evidence relating to both their construction and to the construction of the platform on which they sit will survive in the form of buried structures and deposits. Part infilling and waterlogging of the ditch will preserve additional artefactual and environmental evidence for the nature of occupation on the site which will provide valuable information about its role, both social and economic, in the local and regional landscape. As a result of the survival of early documentary sources the historical context of the remains is well understood, and the topographical relationship of the monument to the church and manor of Lower Benefield provides further valuable information about the development of these central elements of the medieval and post-medieval landscape.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of Benefield Castle, a medieval ringwork castle believed to have been constructed in the mid-12th century. It is recorded in documentary sources of the 13th century but went out of use before 1315. In the early 18th century a stone wall remained standing but there are now no architectural features surviving above ground. The remains of the castle are located on the end of a natural spur which projects north eastward towards the western edge of the present village of Lower Benefield. They include a rectangular platform with rounded corners, measuring approximately 60m by 50m and raised up to 2m above the surrounding land. The interior of the platform, which is now largely level, includes slight earthworks which are considered to indicate the survival of the buried remains of the castle's defensive, domestic and agricultural buildings. The platform is surrounded on three sides by a broad ditch, over 10m wide and up to 2.5m deep, representing the remains of a moat; on the west and north it is still water-filled while on the south, where it has been partly infilled, it is visible as an earthwork depression. Outside the ditch are the remains of an earthen bank; on the south and west it survives as a substantial feature up to 1m in height and on the north, where it has been altered by later activity, it is visible as a low earthwork. The area to the east of the central platform, now largely level, includes the infilled remains of the eastern arm of the castle moat, and in the south eastern part of the monument is a raised trackway. Mapped representations of the site in the early 19th century indicate that the entrance to the castle was formerly from the east in the direction of St Mary's Church and Manor Farm. The castle is thought to have originated as a defended manor which was superseded in the late medieval period by a manor house adjacent to the north east. All modern fences, gates, bridges and garden buildings are excluded from the scheduling although 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: 17130

Legacy System: RSM


Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of N, Archaeological Sites in North-East Northamptonshire, (1975)

End of official listing