Ashton Keynes Halls Close

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameAshton Keynes Halls Close
Alternative NamesKent End; South Cerney; The Battlefield; Cerne Cernei
Historic CountryWiltshire
Modern AuthorityWiltshire
1974 AuthorityWiltshire
Civil ParishAshton Keynes

Earthworks of a Medieval ringwork and bailey. During excavations in 1959 a large quantity of pottery dating to C12 - C13 was found. There is some debate as to whether this is the site of a castle captured by Stephen in 1139, or whether the latter was sited at South Cerney (SU047976).

A ringwork and bailey forming a rectangle 140m by 85m, known as Halls Close. Excavated by G M Knocker in 1959 revealing a puddled clay ditch and a dry stone wall in a bank. Many finds. (Wilts SMR)

The Hall's Close site survives well and has considerable potential for the recovery of archaeological remains. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the likelihood of the survival of below-ground waterlogged and organic remains, as a result of its location on level ground adjacent to a tributary of the River Thames. Such evidence will provide a detailed insight into the economy of the people who inhabited the site and the environment in which they lived.

The monument includes a ringwork and bailey set on level ground immediately north of a tributary of the River Thames. The ringwork comprises a raised platform 0.5m above ground level and 50m across defined by a low inner bank and a broad ditch 10m wide and 1m deep. To the west of the ringwork is a level bailey, again defined by bank and ditch, the bank standing to a maximum height of c.1m. Remains of an additional outer bank can be traced in fields immediately south of the southern arm of the ditch. East of the ringwork is a further extension of the bailey. This appears to have been reduced by cultivation although the ditch can still be traced as a low earthwork running NNW-SSE. It survives to a width of c.3m and is 0.2m deep. The moat surrounding the ringwork was fed by a channel linking the monument with a tributary of the River Thames. This can be traced in a field south of the ringwork as a linear feature c.4m wide and 0.3m deep

The site was partially excavated by a local, Gp Cpt Knocker, in 1959. This revealed a dry stone wall set in the bank of the ringwork and a clay-lined ditch. Finds of pottery and metalwork, believed to be contemporary with the monument, were recovered. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Regarding the castellum de Cernei mentioned in 1139 this castle was stormed, rather than besieged, so this may suggest a small castle although still significant enough to be mentioned. South Cerney is most generally accepted as the site of this munitiunculam of Miles of Gloucester. The other places mentioned in this paragraph of the Gesta Stephani are Trowbridge and Malmesbury which might suggest this was a campaign against urban centres in Wiltshire, which makes Calne a weak possibility. South Cerney was a holding of Miles of Gloucester and is, therefore, probably the correct identification.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSU048945
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  • Bainbridge, V. (ed), 2011, VCH Wiltshire Vol. 18 (tenurial history)
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Wessex (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 88
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 502 (possible)
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 180
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 96, 314
  • Pugh, R.B. and Crittall, Elizabeth (ed), 1957, VCH Wiltshire Vol. 1 Part 1 p. 262


  • Creighton, O.H., 2000, 'Early Castles in the Medieval Landscape of Wiltshire' Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Vol. 93 p. 111 online copy
  • 1975-6, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Register for 1974-5' Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Vol. 70-71 p. 137
  • 1974, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Register for 1973' Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Vol. 69 p. 187 online copy
  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • 1968, Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Vol. 63 p. 120 online copy
  • 1963, Bulletin of the Institute of Archaeology Vol. 3 p. 72-3
  • Wilson, D.M. and Hurst, D.G., 1960, 'Medieval Britain in 1959' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 4 p. 156 online copy
  • Knocker, G.M. and Sabben Clave, E.E., 1958-60, 'Hall's Close, Ashton Keynes' Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Vol. 57 p. 241-2 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Sewell, R.C. (ed), 1846, Gesta Stephani, Regis Anglorum et Ducis Normannorum p. 59 online copy (The newer edition and translation by Potter, K.R. (ed), 1976 (2edn), Gesta Stephani (Oxford University Press) should be consulted for serious study. See also Speight, S., 2000, 'Castle Warfare in the Gesta Stephani' , Château Gaillard Vol. 19 [see online transcription >])
  • Hardy, D.H., (ed), 1840, Willelmi Malmesbriensis monachi gestis regum Anglorum atque Historiae novella (London) p. 726, 732 online copy (A revised edition by Edmund King (Oxford University Press, 1999) should also be consulted)