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HER Number (PRN):01327
Name:Ritton Castle
Type of Record:Monument
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1020150: Ritton Castle

Monument Type(s):


Scheduled Monument: A univallate (single rampart) Iron Age hillfort adapted in the early medieval period (probably before the end of the 12th century) to form a 'ringwork and bailey' castle (a stronghold defended by a bank and ditch) believed to have been the principal residence of Ritton Manor at this time.

Parish:Worthen with Shelve, South Shropshire, Shropshire
Map Sheet:SO39NW
Grid Reference:SO 344 976

Related records

01326Related to: Ritton Castle Mine (Monument)

Associated Finds: None recorded

Associated Events

  • ESA1901 - 1973 field observation by the Ordnance Survey
  • ESA1902 - 1973 field observation by the Ordnance Survey
  • ESA1903 - 1981 field observation by Shropshire County Council
  • ESA6904 - 2011-12 DBA and walkover survey of hillforts in Shropshire by Shropshire Council and Herefordshire Council
  • ESA8347 - 2015 Conservation Management Plan for Ritton Castle by Shropshire Council HET


Early castle site <1a>
Ringwork and bailey situated above steep slopes above Ritton Castle Mine (SA 1326), ground falling away on NW and NE. Bailey to the S contained on the NW by a continuation of the valley and on SW by side valley which turns on the SE and fades. Steep sided ravine on NE. The inner ringwork is crescent shaped, cutting off the headland, 32x 28m in area. The bank is 18m wide, 2m high internally, 3.5m externally. An exterior ditch 10m wide and 1m deep ends on the steep slope on the W and leads into the ravine on the E. Twenty metres from the E end is a simple entrance approached by a causeway. The irregular bailey measures 170m E/W and 80m N/S. Except on SE it relies on steep natural slopes, but around the west corner where the slopes lessen there is a 2-3m wide terrace with scarped slopes above and below. The SE side is bounded by a bank 6m wide, 0.8m high with an outer ditch 5m wide, 1m deep which fade out on the natural slopes at the S end and terminate at the ravine at the N end. The original entrance is towards the N end. The site bears a resemblance to the small promontory forts of Wales and the border and may originally be an Iron Age enclosure. OS FI 1973 <1>

Ritton Castle consists of a crescent shaped ringwork cutting off a headland....At SO3447 9769 is an in-turned entrance approached by a causeway across the ditch. The area enclosed is approx 1 ha. Very little by way of internal features are visible. Two buildings are indicated on the OS 1:2500 County Series map but it is not clear which of these is now represented by the remains of mortared stonework. Against the outer face bank at SO3447 9768 is a length of randomed coursed wall. Presumably the buildings within the ringwork are associated with the working of the Ritton Castle Mine. (SA 1326). It has been suggested that the bailey, or irregular shape, is an enclosure, (1.3 ha area) of possible Iron Age date in a cliff edge situation.... A simple entrance exists at SO3450 9766...No internal features are visible as the site lies within a conifer plantation. A Tyler FI 1981 <2>

Evaluated for MPP in 1990-1: High score as one of 20 Ringworks; Medium score as one of 13 Large Univallate hillforts <4>

Scheduled in 2001.Scheduling description: ->

-> The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a slight univallate hillfort, and a ringwork and bailey castle. The hillfort was constructed around a projecting shelf on the north western side of Brooks Hill where the ground slopes steeply to the north, south and west. From this commanding position there are extensive views over the neighbouring valley and the surrounding uplands to the north and west. ->

-> The hillfort is sub-rectangular in plan, with overall dimensions of 116m north west to south east by 215m south west to north east. The defensive circuit encloses an area of about 1ha. Its size would suggest that it was the settlement of a largish community, perhaps where particular centralised economic and social activities were practiced. Where the surrounding ground falls away steeply the earthwork defences of the hillfort consist of a steep scarp bounded by an external terrace, or berm, which for the most part is between 1m-2m wide. To the west, part of this scarp has also been divided by a narrow berm. On the eastern side, where the ground rises gently to the south east, the hillfort is defined by a bank, which averages 6m wide and 1m high, and an external ditch, which is between 6m and 8m wide and 1m deep. To the south this ditch is bounded by the steep scarp which continues along the western and northern sides of the shelf, and to the north east where the ditch turns outwards to join the scarp. The original entrance into the interior of the hillfort was via a causeway; about 5m wide, through the north eastern part of the defences. ->

-> In the medieval period the hillfort was reutilised to form a ringwork and bailey castle, which is believed to have been the principal residence, or caput, of Ritton manor. The first known reference to the manor is in a deed of about 1203 when Robert Corbert of Caus granted Ritton to Buildwas Abbey. The ringwork, which was constructed in the northern part of the hillfort, is roughly triangular in shape, measuring approximately 28m south west to north east by 30m north west to south east, internally. The sizeable earthwork defences along its southern side consist of a curving rampart of earth and stone, between 14m and 18m wide and averaging 2.2m high, with an external ditch between 8m and 10m wide, and between 1.2m and 2.2m deep. There is a 4m wide entrance passage through these defences which provides access into the interior. The northern part of the defensive circuit of the ringwork reuses the steep scarp which originally defined the north western corner of the hillfort. The position of the ringwork within the hillfort would suggest that the rest of the hillfort interior served as a bailey to the ringwork, and would therefore have contained a range of ancillary structures, including stores, stables and other domestic accommodation. ->

-> The earliest large scale Ordnance Survey map published in 1882 shows a small settlement occupying the site. A pathway is shown linking this settlement to the nearby lead mine to the north, which worked intermittently from 1852 to 1874. The mine itself is not included in the scheduling. Apart from mounds of rubble from the demolished buildings, all that remains visible of this settlement is a square embanked enclosure with an adjoining small quarry and several associated shallow sunken trackways. <5>

Photographed during aerial photographic survey in 2010. <6>

The site was visited during a survey of major later prehistoric enclosures in the region, in 2011-2012. The structural and earthwork remains of the post-medieval mining settlement survive well on the ringwork castle. They are currently covered by the scrub which has grown up from the former boundary and fruit trees which once surrounded the settlement. Hedgebanks from the former paddock to SW of the ringwork survive as an earthwork within the woodland. The depression immediately to the NW of this feature probably represents the remains of a quarry, or possibly a mining trial pit. <7>

A management plan was prepared in 2015, covering the works considered necessary to introduce grazing to the site under the owner's HLS agreement. Includes a brief history of the site, identifies management history, current management issues and details a management strategy for the site. <8>

<00> Shropshire County Council SMR, Site and Monuments Record (SMR) cards, SMR Card for PRN SA 01327 (Card index). SSA20722.

<01a> Hogg A H A & King D J C, 1963, Early Castles in Wales and the Marches, p97 (Article in serial). SSA1163.

<01> Ordnance Survey, 1973, Ordnance Survey Record Card SO39NW6 (Card index). SSA5323.

<02> Tyler Alan W, 1981, Site Visit Form (Field recording form). SSA5324.

<03> Cambridge University Collection of Air Photos (CUCAP), 1970-Feb-03, CUCAP BAO68 to BAO70 (3 Photos) (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA17422.

<04> Horton Wendy B, 1990/ 1991, MPP Evaluation File (TEXT). SSA20084.

<05> English Heritage, 2001, Scheduling Papers (New Scheduling, 18/09/2001) (Scheduled Monument notification). SSA20691.

<06> Shropshire Council, 2010-Jan-30, SA1002_054 to SA1002_055 (2 photos) Flight: 10_SA_02 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA26314.

<07> Dorling P & Wigley A, 2012, Assessment of the archaeological and conservation status of major later prehistoric enclosures in Herefordshire and Shropshire, p.217-218 (Archaeological fieldwork report). SSA24361.

<08> Wigley A, 2015, Interim Management Plan for…Ritton Castle: an Iron Age hillfort and earthwork castle on the Stiperstones hills, Shropshire (Management report). SSA29663.


[00]SSA20722 - Card index: Shropshire County Council SMR. Site and Monuments Record (SMR) cards. SMR record cards. SMR Card for PRN SA 01327.
[01a]SSA1163 - Article in serial: Hogg A H A & King D J C. 1963. Early Castles in Wales and the Marches. Archaeologia Cambrensis. Vol 112. p77-124. p97.
[01]SSA5323 - Card index: Ordnance Survey. 1973. Ordnance Survey Record Card SO39NW6. Ordnance Survey record cards. SO39NW6.
[02]SSA5324 - Field recording form: Tyler Alan W. 1981. Site Visit Form. SMR site visit form.
[03]SSA17422 - Oblique aerial photograph: Cambridge University Collection of Air Photos (CUCAP). 1970-Feb-03. CUCAP BAO68 to BAO70 (3 Photos). Black and white.
[04]SSA20084 - TEXT: Horton Wendy B. 1990/ 1991. MPP Evaluation File.
[05]SSA20691 - Scheduled Monument notification: English Heritage. 2001. Scheduling Papers (New Scheduling, 18/09/2001). 34901.
[06]SSA26314 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2010-Jan-30. SA1002_054 to SA1002_055 (2 photos) Flight: 10_SA_02. Colour. Digital.
[07]SSA24361 - Archaeological fieldwork report: Dorling P & Wigley A. 2012. Assessment of the archaeological and conservation status of major later prehistoric enclosures in Herefordshire and Shropshire. p.217-218.
[08]SSA29663 - Management report: Wigley A. 2015. Interim Management Plan for…Ritton Castle: an Iron Age hillfort and earthwork castle on the Stiperstones hills, Shropshire. Shropshire Council.
Date Last Edited:Oct 24 2017 11:30AM