Folkestone Castle Hill

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameFolkestone Castle Hill
Alternative NamesCeasars Camp
Historic CountryKent
Modern AuthorityKent
1974 AuthorityKent
Civil ParishFolkestone

The ringwork at Castle Hill is the largest and most complete ringwork in the south east of England and survives to a large extent undisturbed by later activities. Its archaeological potential is therefore considerable, as has been demonstrated during small-scale part excavation by General Pitt-Rivers in 1878. These excavations have also led to above average archaeological documentation of the castle. The causeway linking the castle to the approach lane is a rare survival of an originally common component of castles and one which demonstrates the use of natural defences beyond the limits of the castle itself. The Bronze Age bowl barrow which was incorporated into the causeway adds to the diversity of the monument and is itself of considerable archaeological potential since it shows no evidence of having been seriously disturbed. The monument includes the site of a castle of Norman origin and its defended approach causeway, and a Bronze Age burial mound with an encircling ditch. A large defensive earthen bank or rampart encloses the summit of Castle Hill, except on the western side where the steep slope was sufficient defence. The rampart averages some 20m in width and, when taken in conjunction with the deep outer ditch, presented a long and steep slope to any would-be attacker. Within the enclosed area is a smaller oval enclosure surrounded by another ditch. This inner enclosure, or ringwork, measures 105m east-west by 72m north-south and was the site of the main residential buildings of the castle as well as a small chapel. Between the ringwork and the outer bank was the bailey; an enclosed area in which ancillary buildings such as soldiers' accommodation, storage huts, workshops and stables would have been sited. A raised causeway crosses the bailey, joining the entrance to the ringwork on its eastern side with the entrance to the castle to the north east. This is the only original entrance, the other routes into the castle having been created more recently

Part excavation by General Pitt-Rivers in 1878 revealed a number of internal features, including a well over 29m deep within the ringwork. Several of his excavation trenches are still visible as hollows. Leading north eastwards from the castle is a causeway with a 3m wide ditch and bank on its western side. For over 100m the causeway stands raised above the general ground level. Also in this area is a low earthen mound 16m in diameter, slightly truncated by the causeway, which marks the site of a Bronze Age burial. The ditch around the mound is no longer visible. (Scheduling Report)

Caesar's Camp on Castle Hill lies c. 2km north-west of Folkestone harbour, at TR 21403795. Excavations in 1878 showed it to be a ring-work castle mound with two baileys, probably constructed in the early twelfth century. The finds included glazed wheel-made pottery and a King Stephen silver penny (AD 1135-1154). The discovery of prehistoric and Romano-British artefacts suggests that the medieval castle may have been erected within an earlier earthwork (Bing 1950, 147; Renn 1973, 189-190). (Kent Historic Towns Survey)

Gatehouse Comments

The 1878 excavation, by General Pitt Rivers, has been claimed as the first scientific excavation of a medieval site in Britain.

- 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 ReferenceTR214379
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  • Bennett, P., 1988, 'Archaeology and the Channel Tunnel' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 106 p. 1-24 online copy
  • Bennett, P., 1987, 'Interim report on work carried out in 1987 by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust. Castle Hill, Folkestone' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 104 p. 318–19 online copy
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 309
  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • Bing, H.F., 1950, 'Miscellaneous notes - Discovery of Masonry on Castle Hill, Folkestone' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 63 p. 147 online copy
  • 1937, Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 1 p. 25-26
  • Pitt Rivers, A.H.L.F., 1883, 'Excavations at Caesar's Camp near Folkstone, conducted in June and July, 1878' Archaeologia Vol. 47 (II) p. 429-65 online copy


  • Kent County Council, December 2004, Kent Historic Towns Survey (Kent County Council and English Heritage) view online copy