Queen Eleanors Bower, Haughmond

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameQueen Eleanors Bower, Haughmond
Alternative Names
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishUffington

The ringwork known as Queen Eleanor's Bower is a good example of this class of monument. The remains of buildings will survive as well as buried features, which together with the associated artefacts and organic remains, will provide evidence about the lifestyles and activities of those who occupied the site. Organic remains preserved in the buried ground surface beneath the bank will provide information about the local environment and land use prior to the construction of the ringwork.

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a ringwork known as Queen Eleanor's Bower, situated on a knoll near the base of the south western side of Haughmond Hill. From this location there are extensive views of the Severn valley, including the medieval urban centre of Shrewsbury to the south west. The ringwork is overlooked by a rocky shelf to the south east, separated from the knoll by a steep-sided gully. It is not known where its name, Queen Eleanor's Bower, originated. A slight univallate hillfort, 100m to the north, on the summit of Haughmond Hill, is the subject of a separate scheduling.

The knoll, which forms the base of the ringwork, appears to have been artifically steepened in order to create a conical shaped mound. Across the base it measures approximately 82m north west-south east by 92m north-south. In relation to the sloping ground which surrounds it, the height of the ringwork steadily increases from the north east to the south west. On the south eastern side it stands about 7.5m high. The top of the ringwork is triangular in shape and measures approximately 38m by 40m, and around the edge is a stony bank 4.5m wide and up to 0.7m high internally

(Scheduling Report)

Queen Eleanor's Bower is now believed to be a good example of a ringwork (a nationally rare form of stronghold usually dating to within the late Anglo-Saxon and Norman periods), but remains a rather enigmatic site.

OS regard site as doubtful and formed by landslide (1964. Ordnance Survey Record Card SJ51SW2).

Steep sided knoll 40 yds in diameter and 119 yds in circumference, with gap separating it from main slope of Haughmond Hill immediately to east. Plateau defended by low earth and stone rampart. SW side burnt to brick red and 'fused'. Terracing on west side of knoll (Cantrill 1918)

There is a clearly defined stone rubble bank around the edge of the summit. The mound as a whole is clearly natural, but the top has been defended (Unattributed SMR Comments in SMR database. 15/04/1977). (Shropshire HER)

A steep sided fir-crowned knoll known as Queen Eleanor's Bower forming a small plateau, diameter 40 yds, and circumference 119 yds, in a strong position surrounded by rapidly falling ground, while the gap that separates the knoll from the side of the adjacent hill has probably been artificially deepened.

The plateau is defended by a low earth and stone rampart built of material obtained close by and three varieties of small lumps and flat blocks of extraneous stone, namely two kinds of red sandstone and a cream coloured sandstone. The SW side of the rampart has been burnt to a brick red colour and actually fused in places. On the western slope of the knoll outside the rampart are signs of terracing. No finds from the site: date and purpose unknown (Cantrill 1918)

The feature is as described by Cantrill except that no trace of fusing was found and the so called terracing is vague and doubtful. The knoll was apparently formed by landslide from the higher ground adjoining its east side.

The form of the earthwork is that of a motte but as it is overlooked by adjoining high ground such a classification is doubtful (F1 JR 28-JAN-64).

A defensive earthwork occupies the summit of Queen Eleanor's Bower, a natural knoll on the south-west slopes of Haughmond Hill, from which it is separated by steep-sided ravines.

The summit of the knoll is three-sided and measures some 30.0m along each side. It is enclosed with a bank built largely of stone, 5.0m in width, 0.7m in height internally with no evidence of "fusing". The slopes on the south-east have been scarped and are about 7.5m high from the foot of the ravine on that side. Natural slopes fall for some 30.0m or 40.0m on the south and west, and where they are less steep on the north-west, have been interrupted by the construction of a terrace, 3.0m wide, with steep scarped slopes above, 2.6m in height, immediately below the bank.

On the north-east, a rock-cut ditch, 7.0m in width, and 2.0m in depth, externally, has been cut across the low narrow ridge which connects the knoll with the ground rising to the hilltop between the ravines.

Although triangular in plan and neither truly motte nor ringwork the concept is more Medieval than prehistoric. For an Iron Age fort on the ridge above see SJ 51 SW 7 (F2 ASP 30-APR-80). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Not a manorial centre. Not near to any settlement. Within the medieval forest of Haughmond (also know as King's Wood, part of the forest of The Wrekin or Mount Gilbert). Was supposedly the site from which Queen Eleanor viewed the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. Was this, in fact, the site of a viewing platform designed to observe hunting? Difficult to believe that David Cathcart King, who lived in the area, did not know of this site but it is not record in Castellarium Anglicanum. Recorded here as a 'possible' castle site because of the scheduling report but Gatehouse has serious doubts to this site being a medieval ringwork.

- 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 ReferenceSJ536136
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  • Jackson, M.J.,1988, Castles of Shropshire (Shrewsbury: Shropshire Libraries) p. 27


  • Cantrill, T.C., 1918, 'Earthwork on Haughmond Hill near Shrewsry' Transactions of the Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club Vol. 6 p. 136-42


  • Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, 1986, Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 26559