Medieval ringwork in Burgate Wood


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016699

Date first listed: 02-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Medieval ringwork in Burgate Wood
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This copy shows the entry on 14-Dec-2018 at 15:39:13.


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

County: Suffolk

District: Mid Suffolk (District Authority)

Parish: Burgate

National Grid Reference: TM 07707 75546


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 in Burgate Wood is a well preserved example of this class of monument, apparently constructed as a lightly defended manor house rather than a military stronghold, and has additional interest in relation to the wood within which it stands and to the later moated manorial site nearby.

Archaeological information relating to its construction and occupation will be contained in earthworks and accumulated deposits within the interior of the enclosure. Organic material, including evidence for the local environment in the past, is also likely to be preserved in waterlogged deposits in the lower fill of the ditch.


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


The monument includes a medieval ringwork located about 530m west of St Mary's Church and 300m south west of Burgate Hall moated site, which is the subject of a separate scheduling. It lies towards the southern end of Burgate Wood, which existed in the medieval period.

The ringwork is visible as a sub-circular enclosure with maximum overall dimensions of approximately 76m north-south by 70m east-west, surrounded by a ditch and inner bank. The ditch, which ranges between 8m and 15m in width and contains some water on the northern side of the enclosure, has become partly infilled, but remains open to a depth of up to 2.2m, measured from the external ground surface. The bank, constructed of earth quarried from the ditch, is up to 10m wide at the base and still stands to a height of around 1m, although originally it would have been higher and surmounted by a timber palisade. A depression about 5m wide in the bank on the west side of the enclosure marks the probable site of an entrance, partly infilled by the erosion of the bank on either side, and against the outer edge of the ditch opposite this, surrounded on the north, west and south sides by the slight remains of a ditch, there is a sub-rectangular platform raised about 0.5m above the prevailing ground level and measuring about 17m NNW-SSE by 8m. This platform probably supported a building or buildings relating to the entrance. A low, causeway-like ridge across the ditch on the opposite side of the enclosure is not associated with any corresponding gap in the inner bank and is unlikely to be an original feature.

The ringwork is believed to be the site of a medieval manor house, probably dating from soon after the Norman Conquest, and fragments of pottery found on the site provide evidence of occupation during the 11th and 12th centuries. According to the Domesday survey of 1086, there was a substantial manor in Burgate before 1066, held by a free man named Wulfwin. After the Conquest the tenant was Adelhelm under the overlordship of Aubrey de Vere, and by the 13th century it was held by the de Burgate family, thought to be descendants of Adelhelm, in whose hands it remained until the early 15th century. The ringwork was probably abandoned when the moated manor house to the east of it was constructed.

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: 30571

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Copinger, W A, The Manors of Suffolk, Volume 3, (1909), 244f
Hill, P O, Echoes from the Past Life of Burgate, (1932)
Rackham, O (Dymond, Martin, E eds.), An Historical Atlas of Suffolk51

End of official listing