Renhold Ring

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameRenhold Ring
Alternative NamesWater End Farm; Hill Farm; Howbury; Adinggreves
Historic CountryBedfordshire
Modern AuthorityBedfordshire
1974 AuthorityBedfordshire
Civil ParishRenhold

Howbury, earthwork at Water End Farm is a circular area 130 ft in diameter with 10 ft high ramparts and a wide wet ditch outside. It probably had one original entrance on the west but the old road to St Neots has mutilated it making a second one on the east (Fowler). On balance it would be better classified as a medieval ringwork rather than a Danish work. (PastScape–field investigators comment, 1975)

The monument includes a ringwork castle and part of a later medieval droveway which ran through it. It is situated at the top of a steep slope, which falls southwards to the River Great Ouse, lying adjacent to Hill Farm and south of the St Neots Road. The ringwork, once known as Addingreves Castle, comprises an earthen bank 8m wide by up to 3m high enclosing a circular area 40m in diameter. The bank is breached by two entrances, one at the west and the other at the north east. Surrounding the ringwork is a ditch which is up to 24m wide. This has become infilled over the years and is now only about 1m deep at the south ans west and is totally infilled on the north and east. Its width is evidence that the original depth would have been much greater. The northern edge of the ditch lies beneath the carriageway of the road and is partially altered by a modern roadside drainage ditch which is about 2m wide and 2m deep. Despite this, the bottom of the ditch is thought to survive intact on this side. The southern arm of the ditch recently held standing water but is now dry. The medieval droveway ran between Bedford and St Neots largely on the line of the modern road but, where the road is diverted to the north of the ringwork, traces of the trackway survive as later alterations to the earthwork. Opposite the western entrance a ramp or hollow-way 15m wide leads out of the ditch, extending for 30m beyaond its outer edge. There is a distinct camber to this ramp and also in the entrance to the ringwork which has been widened to accommodate the track

The track continued east, out of the second entrance, and followed the line of the modern road. Adjacent to the monument are slight and poorly defined earthworks which indicate that the land was under cultivation in the medieval period. A number of burials were found on the site in the early 19th century while the monument was erroneously described as a Roman amphitheatre on early maps. The monument is now considered to be a Norman castle and although some scholars have suggested that the ringwork might have been built by the Danes in their defence of the Danelaw this has not been proven. After the castle's demise, the earthworks no doubt served as a shelter and watering place for livestock being driven between Bedford and St Neots on the trackway. (Beds HER)

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 ReferenceTL106512
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  • Petre, James Scott, 2012, The Castles of Bedfordshire (Lavenham: Lavenham Press for Shaun Tyas) p. 73-5
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  • Fowler, P.J. (ed), 1972, Archaeology and the landscape: essays for L V Grinsell p. 231
  • Wadmore, Beauchamp, 1920, The Earthworks of Bedfordshire (Bedford) p. 253-7
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1912, VCH Bedfordshire Vol. 3 p. 215 (mention as Danish: Manorial history) online transcription
  • Goddard, A.R., 1904, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Doubleday, H.Arthur and Page, Wm (eds), VCH Bedfordshire Vol. 1 p. 284-5 (called Danish outpost)


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 21, 23, 24
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  • Baker, D., 1982, 'Mottes, Moats and ringworks in Bedfordshire: Beauchamp Wadmore revisited' Château Gaillard Vol. 9-10 p. 35-54
  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • Dyer, J.F., 1962, 'Bedfordshire Earthworks VII, Danish Earthworks' Bedfordshire magazine Vol. 8 no. 62 p. 239-40
  • Prior, 1869, Reports and Papers of the Associated Architectural Societies Vol. 10 p. 124
  • Monkhouse, Wm, 1854, 'On Risinghoe Castle, in Goldington, and Howbury, in Renhold' Reports and Papers of the Associated Architectural Societies Vol. 3 p. 182-5 online copy


  • Lowerre, A.G., 2004, Placing Castles in the Conquest. Landscape, Lordship and Local Politics in the South-Eastern Midlands, 1066-1100 (PhD thesis: Boston College) p. 463-4