Ring cairn and Selattyn Tower on Selattyn Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017237

Date first listed: 03-Jul-2000


Ordnance survey map of Ring cairn and Selattyn Tower on Selattyn Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Selattyn and Gobowen

National Grid Reference: SJ 25594 34163


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

Reasons for Designation

A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank of stones up to 20m in diameter surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may be kerbed on the inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with small uprights or laid boulders. Ring cairns are found mainly in upland areas of England and are mostly discovered and authenticated by fieldwork and ground level survey, although a few are large enough to be visible on aerial photographs. They often occur in pairs or small groups of up to four examples. Occasionally they lie within round barrow cemeteries. Ring cairns are interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and Middle Bronze Age date. The exact nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood, but excavation has revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities associated with the burial rituals. Many areas of upland have not yet been surveyed in detail and the number of ring cairns in England is not accurately known. However, available evidence indicates a population of between 250 and 500 examples. As a relatively rare class of monument exhibiting considerable variation in form, all positively identified examples retaining significant archaeological deposits are considered worthy of preservation.

Despite alteration and disturbance in modern times the ring cairn on Selattyn Hill remains a good example of this class of monument. Much survives to indicate the methods of construction and the use of the site for various ritual activities, including human burial. The information provided by the archaeological investigations confirmed the function and date of the monument, and have indicated the degree to which buried deposits survive. The buried ground surface beneath the cairn will preserve evidence for the prehistoric landscape in which it was built. The site is therefore very valuable in advancing our understanding of Early Bronze Age society. Selattyn Tower is an important historic landmark constructed in the local vernacular tradition. Its signifance is enhanced by its military role during World War II and by the archaeological investigations carried out in the 20th century. The importance of the ring cairn and the tower is further enhanced by their amenity value. They are accessible to the public and are a valuable educational resource. Selattyn Tower is a local landmark.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a Bronze Age ring cairn and the remains of a 19th century belvedere known as Selattyn Tower, situated on the north eastern edge of the summit of Selattyn Hill. From this location there are extensive views of the Cheshire and Shropshire plains, and the uplands of Shropshire and north east Wales. The ring cairn is about 22m in diameter. Its unrevetted stony bank, approximately 3m wide, survives to a maximum height of 0.8m, and defines a circular area 16m across. Later activity on the site has truncated and reduced the height of the southern part of this feature. The bank was built of rounded and weathered boulders, probably locally derived. A small scale archaeological excavation in 1998 revealed that the internal surface of the cairn had also been constructed of local stone, which had been pushed into, and deposited over, the natural sandy subsoil. During this investigation sherds of pottery, of probable Early Bronze Age date, together with fragments of cremated bone, were found in amongst the boulders within the interior. Set within the ring cairn, slightly south of the centre, are the remains of Selattyn Tower, a belvedere (or summerhouse built to give a view of surrounding countryside). It was constructed in 1847 to commemorate the death of Prince Gwen, a sixth century prince, who, according to legend, was killed during a battle between the British and the Saxons near Morlas Brook, which runs close to the hill. During the construction of the tower 12 urns each containing burnt bones were discovered. The tower is a square construction, measuring 3.8m externally and 2.8m internally, and is built of blocks of local limestone and millstone grit. An early 20th century photograph shows the structure in a state of collapse and without a roof, with the walls standing about 4.5m high. In 1999 the tower, which then stood to a maximum height of 3.5m, was partly rebuilt using some of the collapsed stonework. There is a doorway in the north western wall, a splayed window opening in the south eastern wall, and a fireplace in the south western wall with a projecting chimney stack. The original stone floor was found when fallen masonry was removed from within the tower. The commanding views from the structure led to its use during World War II as an observation post by the Home Guard.

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: 32314

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hannaford, H R, An Evaluation on a Bronze Age Ring Cairn on Selattyn Hill, (1998)
Hannaford, H R, An Evaluation on a Bronze Age Ring Cairn on Selattyn Hill, (1998)
Wynne Ffoulkes, W, 'Archaeologia Cambrensis' in Tumulus, Gorsedd Wen, , Vol. 2, 1851, (1851), 9-19
Hannaford, H, (1999)
Reid, ML, A Structural Survey of Selattyn Tower, (1998)

End of official listing