Cusop Castle ringwork


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017253

Date first listed: 19-May-1952

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Nov-2000


Ordnance survey map of Cusop Castle ringwork
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Jan-2019 at 19:42:26.


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

District: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Cusop

National Grid Reference: SO 23908 41400


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.

Cusop Castle survives well with little evidence of recent disturbance. The internal composition of the earthworks and evidence about the accommodation provided within the enclosure, including the buried remains of former stone buildings, will be preserved. This will enable further study of the functions of a high status and defensive settlement within a frontier region following the Norman Conquest. Surviving environmental deposits will provide insights into both the agricultural regime in the area during the medieval period, and the occupation and diets of the occupants of the monument. The combined results of such evidence will produce information about the nature of use of the monument and the backgrounds of the people who have occupied it.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of Cusop Castle, a ringwork located on a natural promontory above a stream with steeply sloping sides in all directions except to the north east. The natural topography suggests that the ringwork is formed from a natural out crop enhanced by quarrying and the construction of the earthen ramparts. The castle includes a raised irregular oval earthwork enclosure orientated east to west forming a platform 2m-3m high and measuring 60m to 80m in diameter around its summit. There are the remains of a ditch measuring 3m to 5m wide and up to 2.5m deep on the north eastern and eastern sides which are less steeply defended. The course of the ditch has been partially obscured by the modern lane in the north western quadrant. A berm constructed on the southern and south western sides enhance the natural slope of the ravine. The construction of Castle House has removed the westernmost defences of the monument and this area is therefore not included in the scheduling.

The interior of the enclosure is divided into two levels by an irregular low bank and slope aligned east to west. Traces of an entrance causeway survive to the east of the subdivision. Although no longer visible above ground, 19th century records of standing fabric including a gateway, and later references to masonry foundations, suggest that Cusop Castle included buildings constructed from stone, the buried remains of which will survive.

The ringwork is one of a number of medieval defensive sites located in strategic positions above the Wye Valley, the land belonging to the King at the time of Domesday survey. The castle is believed to have been constructed by the Cianowes or Clarowes family who were prominent in the county during the 12th to 14th centuries.

The modern post and wire fencing and animal shelter 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: 30078

Legacy System: RSM


unpublished notes in SMR, Various SMR & CAO officers, Cussop Castle,

End of official listing