Ruardean Castle

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Ringwork), and also as a Questionable Fortified Manor House

There are masonry footings remains

NameRuardean Castle
Alternative NamesRuardyn
Historic CountryGloucestershire
Modern AuthorityGloucestershire
1974 AuthorityGloucestershire
Civil ParishRuardean

Site of a fortified manor house, granted a licence to crenellate in 1310 (previously also probably incorrectly rendered as 1403 in one section of an older source). The licence was granted to a cleric named Alexandre de Bykenore. The surviving evidence suggests the site comprised a courtyard, flanked by short ranges of buildings to the north east and south west, with a tower in the western corner. A gatehouse stood to the south east, with a hollow way leading from it towards the parish church. The site was probably enclosed by a curtain wall and is thought to date from the 13th century. The fallen masonry and earthwork remains of this site were mapped from aerial photographs. (PastScape)

(SO 620178). A Norman-type earthen castle lies in the field NW of the church, with a stone-built keep of circa 13th century, and a manor house extended in the 14th century. There are slight remains of a stone - built tower, and strengthened and crenellated mansion occupied successively by the Albamaras, Hatheways and Bickenores (Hart 1967).

Structural remains and earthworks of a fortified manor house are situated upon the end of a short NW pasture-covered spur between the heads of two valleys. Ground evidence in the form of turf-covered tumbled masonry and buried foundations indicates a courtyard 20.0m square flanked on the NE and SW by short ranges of buildings with a strongly built tower of the W corner, circular externally, octagonal internally, of which the rear wall, 2.5m thick, remains standing to a height of 2.5m. Carved stonework dates it to the 13th century. On the SE side of the courtyard are the tumbled remains of a gate house, with twin buildings flanking the entrance, from which a faint hollow-way leads SE along the spur towards the parish church

The buildings were probably enclosed with a stone curtain wall, the foundations of which are exposed for 6.0m adjoining the SE side of the tower and the course of which can be traced elsewhere in the turf. The site stands upon a levelled platform bounded by an artificially steepened scarp which increases with the natural slope of the top of the spur, from 1.0m at the gatehouse to over 3.0m below the tower. Above this scarp on the NW side is a short length of earthen rampart, 6.0m wide and 1.3m high. At a lower level, around the end of the spur, is an outwork comprising a short, artificially steepened scarp 1.0m high, above a silted up ditch, now appearing as a 2.0m wide terrace, from which steep natural slopes fall away to the N and W. The feature fades out upon the hill slope to the NE and terminates upon the slopes beneath the corner tower. Outside the gatehouse is a 60.0m square enclosure, bounded by outward facing scarps 1.0 to 1.5m high, with traces of a bank above and, on the SW side, remains of a ditch below, 5.0m wide and 0.3m deep. There is a break in the SE side through which passes the hollow way from the gatehouse.

No evidence was found to indicate that this site was ever a motte and bailey castle, (though a ringwork masked by later works may have existed). The situation is rather weak for one, but quite adequate for a fortified manor house (F1 ASP 05-OCT-72). (PastScape)

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 ReferenceSO619178
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  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 132, 211
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Gloucestershire and Bristol (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 25
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 476
  • Currie, C.R.J., Herbert, N.M. (ed), 1996, 'Ruardean' VCH Gloucestershire Vol. 5 p. 231-47 online transcription
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 182
  • Hart, Cyril, 1967, Archaeology in Dean p. 53
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 261 (Where Edward II is meant not Edward IV), 406 online copy


  • Rawes, B., 1977, 'A Check List of Castles and other Fortified Sites of Medieval Date in Gloucestershire' Glevensis Vol. 11 p. 39-41 online copy
  • Maclean, J., 1883-4, 'History of the Parish and Manor of Ruardyn, alias Ruardean' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 8 p. 130- online copy
  • 1831, The Gentleman's Magazine Part 1 p. 403-4, 487-8 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1894, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward II (1307-13) Vol. 1 p. 355 online copy


  • Small, F. and Stoertz, C. (eds), 2006, The forest of Dean Mapping Project, Gloucestershire: A report for the National Mapping Programme (English Heritage Research Department Report Series no. 28/2006) p. 83 online copy