Castle Hills Wood ringwork and baileys


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


Ordnance survey map of Castle Hills Wood ringwork and baileys
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 14-Dec-2019 at 03:02:57.


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

West Lindsey (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 81827 91518

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 medieval ringwork and baileys at Castle Hills Wood survive well as a series of earthwork and buried deposits. Documentary research and archaeological survey mean that the site is quite well understood. The artifically raised banks will preserve evidence of land use prior to their construction. Its strategic position and later fortifications demonstrate its continued importance as a feature of the wider medieval landscape. As a high-status residence it contributes to our understanding of the social, economic and military activities of a particular component of medieval society.


The monument includes the medieval ringwork and baileys known as Castle Hills. Located in Castle Hills Wood on a west-facing escarpment overlooking the Trent valley, it is thought to date from the late 11th or mid-12th century. In 1086 Thonock was held by Roger of Poitou and around 1115 by the Count of Mortain. The site, which was referred to as the `castle of Gainsborough', was granted by King Stephen to William de Roumare, Earl of Lincoln by 1146. In the late 12th and 13th centuries it became an important residence, notably of Edmund Earl of Cornwall, brother of Edward I, and was the centre of a barony. The site remained in residential use into the 15th century and the manor remained a holding of the Duchy of Lancaster until 1563, by which time it had been abandoned.

The monument takes the form of a ringwork with banked and ditched baileys adjoining it to the north and south and a steep scarp to the west. The central area of the ringwork is roughly circular in plan, measuring approximately 20m in diameter, and includes a hollow thought to represent the location of buried building remains such as a hall. The central area is enclosed by a bank and external ditch. The bank measures up to 10m in width and is more pronounced on the southern side of the central area. The ditch is steep-sided, measuring 15m in width, and is also more pronounced on the southern side of the ringwork. Additional defence was provided by another steep sided ditch, up to 5m deep, embanked on both sides, which encloses the southern half of the ringwork.

The northern side of the ringwork is enclosed by a bailey believed to be contemporary with the ringwork. The bailey is semi-circular in plan, the enclosed area measuring approximately 80m east to west, and is surrounded by a ditch with an internal bank. The bank and ditch are more pronounced on the eastern side of the bailey. A narrow entrance at the south east corner of the northern bailey is thought to represent an original access point, while mounds adjacent to the entrance are thought to be the tower foundations of a defensive gateway.

The southern bailey adjoins the south and east sides of the ringwork and is thought to represent a subsequent phase of defensive work. The southern bailey is kidney-shaped in plan, and the enclosed area measures approximately 140m north east to south west and is surrounded by a deep ditch with a high internal bank standing up to 5m above the bottom of the ditch. Mounds at the edge of the bailey are thought to represent further tower foundations. A small ditch and bank leads to the south from the south west corner of the bailey. The area immediately to the west and south west of the southern bailey is marked by a series of mounds and hollows thought to represent quarrying for gypsum, an industry associated with the manor during the 14th century. The western boundary of the monument is marked by an artificially enhanced west-facing scarp.

All fences 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


RCHM(E), Everson, P L and Taylor C C and Dunn, C J, Change And Continuity: Rural Settlement in North-West Lincolnshire, (1991)


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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