The Ring, an animal pound 100m west of Nills Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019827

Date first listed: 11-Dec-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 09-May-2001


Ordnance survey map of The Ring, an animal pound 100m west of Nills Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Pontesbury

National Grid Reference: SJ 39531 04953


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

Reasons for Designation

The term animal pound is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word `pund' meaning enclosure, and is used to describe stock-proof areas for confining stray or illegally pastured stock and legally-kept animals rounded up at certain times of the year from areas of common grazing. The earliest documentary references to pounds date from the 12th century, and they continued to be constructed and used throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods. Most surviving examples are likely to be less than three centuries old, and most will have fallen into disuse in the late 19th or early 20th century. Animal pounds are usually located in villages or towns though some lie in more open locations, particularly on the edge of old woodlands and commons. Construction methods vary according to the availability of building materials: stone, brick, fencing, iron railings and earthworks being used to enclose areas ranging from 4m by 6m to over 0.5ha. The walls are normally about 1.5m high, although greater heights are not uncommon as attempts to prevent poundbreach. In addition to stock control, animals were sometimes taken as a `distress' (seizure of property in lieu of debt or to enforce payment) and kept under the care of the pinder or hayward until redeemed. Pounds are usually unroofed and have a single entrance, although some have additional low entrances to allow the passage of sheep and pigs while retaining larger stock. Other features include rudimentary shelters for the pound-keeper, laid floors, drainage channels, troughs and internal partitions to separate the beasts. Animal pounds are widely distributed throughout England, with particular concentrations in the west and Midlands. About 250 examples are known to survive in fair condition, with perhaps another 150 examples recorded either as remains, or from documentary evidence alone. Pounds illustrate a specialised aspect of past social organisation and animal husbandry, and reflect the use and former appearance of the surrounding landscape. All examples surviving in good condition, particularly those supported by historical evidence for ownership and function, are considered worthy of protection.

The animal pound 100m west of Nills Farm is a well-preserved example of this class of monument and is a rare surviving example of a pound defined by earthworks. It represents an important aspect of the peasant rural economy of the later medieval period in this part of Shropshire. The bank and ditches will retain information about their construction. Organic remains preserved in the buried ground surface beneath the bank and within the ditches will provide information about the local environment and the use of the land prior to and following the construction of the pound.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of an animal pound, known as The Ring, which is situated on the gentle upper east facing slope of Nills Hill. Documentary sources indicate that in the 15th century cattle rustling in this area was a serious problem, and the construction of animal pounds helped to protect herds from thieves who were a constant threat. The Ring is circular in plan with an internal diameter of approximately 23m. It is defined by two ditches separated by an earthen bank about 5m wide and standing up to 1.2m high. The external ditch is also about 5m wide, the eastern side of which is now apparent as a shallow depression having been largely infilled. It will, however, survive as a buried feature. The internal ditch is about 3.5m wide. The arrangement of these earthworks increases the height of the bank, both internally and externally, and so strengthens the pound.

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: 33837

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire: Volume I, (1908), 381
Baugh, GC (Editor), The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire: Volume IV, (1989), 116-17
Tyler, A, SMR site record 01049, (1981)

End of official listing