Castle Ring: a large univallate hillfort, 600m south east of Meadowtown Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Castle Ring: a large univallate hillfort, 600m south east of Meadowtown Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
Worthen with Shelve
National Grid Reference:
SJ 31454 00578

Reasons for Designation

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen. The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by outworks. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Large univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north. Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

The large univallate hillfort known as Castle Ring, 600m south east of Meadowtown Farm, is a good example of this class of monument. In common with other broadly contemporary settlements in this area, it is considered to contain significant buried deposits, structural features, artefactual and organic remains, all of which have the potential to illustrate many aspects of life during the Iron Age. The defences will retain evidence about the nature of their construction and modification. In addition, organic remains surviving in the buried ground surfaces beneath the ramparts and the internal bank, and within the ditch, will provide important information about the local environment and the use of the surrounding land before the hillfort was built and during its occupation.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a large univallate hillfort known as Castle Ring. It is situated on the summit of a hill at the southern side of the Rea Brook valley. From this commanding position there are extensive views in every direction.

The hillfort is roughly oval in plan. Its overall dimensions are approximately 115m north west-south east by 185m south west-north east, and the defensive circuit defines an area of about 1ha. The earthwork defences of the hillfort originally consisted of a single rampart, constructed of earth and stone, bounded by an external ditch. The outer face of this rampart survives as a steep scarp, mostly between 4m and 6m high, which for much of its length closely follows the contours of the hill. The top of the rampart is now mostly level with the interior, but in places stands up to 0.4m high. The ditch, which has been largely infilled, is discernible as a terrace between 3m and 8m wide. It survives well as a buried feature. The entrance into the hillfort is at the north eastern end where the defences face level and gently undulating ground.

At a later date the defences close to the hillfort entrance were modified in order to make this part of the circuit more elaborate and imposing. This involved the construction of a new length of rampart and an adjacent bank within the interior of the fort, both of which partially overlie the existing rampart. The ends of the new rampart and the bank turn inwards to define an entrance corridor about 4m wide. The rampart has steep faces internally and externally and stands to height of 2.2m, while the adjacent bank reaches a maximum height of 0.7m.

Slight undulations within the interior of the hillfort are considered to mark the positions of building platforms on which houses and ancillary structures were built.

A sheep cote and all fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features 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.

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This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

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