Castle Hill ringwork


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020436

Date first listed: 10-Dec-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Feb-2002


Ordnance survey map of Castle Hill ringwork
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lincolnshire

District: North Kesteven (District Authority)

Parish: Welbourn

National Grid Reference: SK 96812 54323


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.

The ringwork known as Castle Hill survives well as a series of earthwork and buried remains. It is a rare example of a ringwork with a stone curtain wall rather than a timber palisade. The areas of raised ground will preserve evidence of land use prior to the construction of the monument, and water- logging will preserve evidence of organic remains, such as seeds, leather and timber, thus providing an insight into the economic and domestic activity of the site. As a result of documentary research, geophysical survey and partial archaeological excavation, the site is quite well understood. These archaeological investigations have demonstrated the presence of buried archaeological remains which will provide valuable information about the layout and dating of the complex, contributing to our understanding of the economic, social and military activities of a significant feature in medieval society.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval ringwork known as Castle Hill, located in the northern part of Welbourn village. Following the Conquest, land at Welbourn was held by Robert Malet. The manor lands were divided, and in the early 12th century land granted to the lord of Bayeux became the manor of `le Northalle', referred to in a document of 1158 as being walled in stone. The other part of the manor, lying to the south of Castle Hill, was known as `le Southalle' and was first mentioned in the 14th century. The two manors remained independent throughout the 13th century, but by 1334 both were held by Isabel de Vescy. The amalgamation of the two estates is thought to have led to the abandonment of `Northalle', and in 1374 the site was said to be waste and entirely without buildings.

The ringwork is roughly D-shaped in plan and is enclosed by a bank and external ditch. The central area measures approximately 60m in width and lies at about the same level as the surrounding ground. The interior formerly accommodated the buildings referred to in a document of 1288, including a hall with two chambers, a kitchen, brewhouse, oxhouse, cowshed and sheep fold. The document also indicates that there was a wall, surmounted by a tower, and a ditch around the court. A geophysical survey has indicated the survival of buried building remains, mainly on the western and central parts of the ringwork, and suggested the presence of other features, such as an oven and pits, concentrated on the eastern side of the interior. The survey also identified a circular feature, approximately 15m in diameter, on the west side of the ringwork, thought to be the remains of the tower mentioned in the 13th century description of the manor. Limited archaeological excavation has provided evidence of building remains dated to the 13th to 14th century.

The D-shaped ringwork is enclosed by an external bank and ditch curving round the north, east and west sides, with a gap in the bank to the north east. The bank stands up to 2m above the level of the interior and 4.5m above the base of the ditch at the north western corner. Partial archaeological excavation has revealed two phases of construction, one including stonework believed to represent the wall mentioned in the 12th century documents. The external ditch, enclosing the north, east and part of the west side of the ringwork, is partly water-filled and measures up to 15m in width and 2m deep. At the south western corner of the ringwork the bank is included in the scheduling. However, the ditch has been infilled and is obscured by modern residential development, and this portion of the external ditch is not therefore included in the scheduling.

The bank and ditch are not evident in the same form on the south side of the ringwork, where it is bounded by the earthwork remains of three parallel ditches, visible as linear depressions up to 0.5m deep. The inner, or northern, ditch measures about 12m in width and is thought to indicate a continuation of the southern arm of the ringwork's external ditch. The middle ditch measures approximately 6m in width and is separated from the inner ditch by a low bank thought to include stonework from the remains of a wall. The outer ditch is partly evident to the south of the middle ditch. Geophysical survey identified the remains of a wall along the northern edge of the inner ditch, thought to be part of the curtain wall.

All fence and display board posts, telegraph poles and modern garden walls 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: 33129

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Downham, EA, Ancient Earthworks in Lincolnshire, (1912)
Healey, RH, Roffe, DR, Some medieval and later earthworks in South Lincolnshire, (1990), 33-35
Archaeological Project Services, Archaeological evaluation of Castle Hill, Welbourn, (2000)
GSB Prospection, Geophysical survey: Welbourn Castle, Lincolnshire, (1999)
Lindsey Archaeological Services, Welbourn Castle: Desk-based assessment and earthwork survey, (1999)

End of official listing