Ringwork and cultivation remains 260m west of St Michael's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019830

Date first listed: 01-Mar-1974

Date of most recent amendment: 09-May-2001


Ordnance survey map of Ringwork and cultivation remains 260m west of St Michael's Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Chirbury with Brompton

National Grid Reference: SO 25874 98480


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.

Despite modification to parts of the defensive circuit, the ringwork 260m west of St Michael's Church is a reasonably well-preserved example of this class of monument. Rectangular or square ringworks are very rare nationally, the majority being circular or irregular in plan. Within this example the remains of the structures that once stood here are expected to survive as buried features, which together with the associated artefacts and organic remains, will provide valuable evidence about the activities and life styles of those who inhabited the ringwork. In addition, organic remains preserved in the buried ground surfaces beneath the ramparts 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 ringwork. The importance of the ringwork is further enhanced by its proximity to the late Anglo-Saxon settlement of Chirbury.

The cultivation remains surrounding the ringwork and within its interior demonstrate the nature of the agricultural practices in this area in the post-medieval period.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a ringwork and associated cultivation remains on the outskirts of the village of Chirbury, to the west of St Michael's Church. The area which is now occupied by the core of the village is considered to have been the site of a fortified enclosure, or burh, and is possibly the place referred to in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as Cyricbyrig, which was founded by Aethelflaed (Ethelfleda), sister of Edward the Elder, in AD 915. The existence of this settlement is believed to have influenced the location of the ringwork, which occupies a commanding ridge top position on the opposite side of the steep-sided valley to the west of the village.

The ringwork would appear to have been originally roughly square, enclosing an area of approximately 0.3ha. The defences are visible as upstanding earthworks on two sides: on the western side by an earthen bank about 10m wide, which stands to height of 1.3m externally and 0.4m internally; and on the northern side by an earthen bank about 5m wide, which stands to a height 0.9m externally and 0.4m internally. The material used for the construction of these banks was obtained from external ditches, approximately 8m wide. Apart from a slight depression along part of the northern side, these ditches have been infilled during the subsequent cultivation of the area and now survive as buried features. The eastern extent of the ringwork is defined by the valley side. Running along the edge of the steepest part of this slope is a low bank, 5m wide, which is considered to be part of the defensive circuit and which was subsquently used as a plough headland (a strip of land defining the edge of an area of cultivation). Along the southern part this side, where the ground slopes more gently, the defences have been levelled by cultivation. Although this part of the defensive circuit is no longer visible at ground level, the buried remains of a bank and an external ditch, both about 8m wide, are thought to survive. The defences defining the southern extent of the ringwork have been modified to some extent by the steep-sided hollow way of the neighbouring road. The original access into the interior of ringwork was via a 4m entrance passage through the western bank. It is associated with an external raised causeway, about 5m wide and 0.7m high, which appears to be a later addition.

In 1958 a small-scale archaeological excavation was undertaken to examine the nature of the defences and to provide evidence for date of occupation although this proved inconclusive. Extensive remains of post-medieval cultivation strips surround the ringwork on its western and northern sides. A sample of these remains, 15m wide to the north and defined by the later hedge boundary to the west, are included in the scheduling to preserve the relationship between them and the ringwork.

All fence posts 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: 33840

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Watson, M, Musson, C, Shropshire from the Air. Man and the Landscape, (1993), 55
Wainwright, F T, 'Shropshire Newsletter' in The Chirbury Excavation (1958), , Vol. 10, (1960), 1

End of official listing