Ruyten XI Towns Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameRuyten XI Towns Castle
Alternative NamesRuyton-Eleven-Towns; Ruten; Ruton; Ruyten of the Eleven Towns; Routon
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishRuyton XI Towns

Despite its use as a quarry for building materials, resulting in its fragmentary state, the tower keep castle at Ruyton-XI-Towns, in association with the adjacent church and the former town, provides tangible evidence of the stategic importance that Ruyton held during the medieval period until the beginning of the 15th century. The extant and buried remains of the tower keep will provide significant information about the construction and development of tower keep castles in this region. The buried deposits within and immediately surrounding the tower keep will contain artefactual and organic remains, which will provide important evidence about the lifestyles of the castle's inhabitants. In addition, there is the possiblity that the tower keep and the associated deposits seal the remains of earlier castle buildings. The importance of the monument is further enhanced by documentary references, which provide details on ownership and the different phases of construction and rebuilding.

The monument includes the upstanding structural, earthwork and buried remains of a tower keep castle, located 7m to the west of the church of St John the Baptist, within the graveyard. The castle is a Listed Building Grade II. The church, which is a Listed Building Grade I, dates from the mid-12th century and originally served as the castle chapel. It was enlarged in the 14th and 15th centuries, and restored in the 19th century. The church is not included in the scheduling. The churchyard cross to the south of the church is the subject of a separate scheduling.

The tower keep castle occupies a commanding position near the western end of a steep-sided promontory south of the River Perry. From this location there are extensive views over the valley below and the surrounding undulating land. This promontory was used as the bailey of the castle

It overlooked the town of Ruyton to the west, which was established in 1308 by the Earl of Arundel, on the probable site of an earlier medieval settlement. The town lost its market in 1407 and thereafter ceased to function as an urban centre.

The initial castle at Ruyton was possibly a timber structure, and was built sometime between 1086 and 1148, probably by John le Strange. It was destroyed by Welsh forces in the early 13th century and may have still been derelict in 1302 when it came into the possession of the Earl of Arundel. A documentary source indicates that by 1313 the site had been refortified and the present castle constructed. The rebuilding work at this time probably included the stone wall around the perimeter of the bailey. Parts of this wall now define the churchyard. The wall, which was extensively rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries, is a Listed Building Grade II, and is not included in the scheduling. The castle was in repair in 1357, but is last mentioned in 1364.

The tithe map of 1838 shows two cottages occupying the ground immediately to the west of the tower keep. These cottages and the outbuildings lying next to the tower keep had been demolished by 1881 when the land became part of the churchyard.

The tower keep is roughly square, about 18m across, with walls averaging 4m thick. The southern, western and northern walls stand up to 4.5m high. The line of the eastern wall is visible as a low earthwork, 0.5m high. The walls are largely built of sandstone rubble with sandstone ashlar on the external faces. The bases of all three extant walls have chamfered exteriors. Within the south wall there are two small inward sloping vents or windows, and there is a similar opening through the north wall. Stone from the tower keep has been used in the construction and repair of buildings nearby, and the extant remains of the walls have been consolidated in modern times. (Scheduling Report)

A castle at Ruyton was almost certainly built in the reign of King Stephen before 1148. It was destroyed by the Welsh in 1212 and perhaps not rebuilt until Edmund Earl of Arundel, bought it in 1302. It must have been defensible by 1313 and was in repair in 1357. It is last mentioned in 1364 and probably fell into ruin soon afterwards. Materials from it may have been used to repair the church. Three walls of the stone keep remain, with parts of the hall storey, and the bailey can be traced in the foundations of the churchyard wall. The foundations were excavated shortly before 1886 by the Vicar who uncovered the remains of walls 14 to 16 feet wide. (PastScape)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSJ394221
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  • Duckers, Peter and Anne, 2006, Castles of Shropshire (Stroud: Tempus) p. 139-41
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  • Eyton, R.W., 1860, Antiquities of Shropshire (London: John Russell Smith) Vol. 10 p. 111-122 (tenurial history) online copy



  • Frost, P., 2008, 'Ruyton XI Towns, churchyard and castle' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 51 p. 28-9
  • 2007/8, 'The Castle at Ruyton XI Towns' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 21 p. 126
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1963, 'Early castles in Wales and the Marches: a preliminary list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 112 p. 77-124
  • 1957-60, 'Ellesmere Annual Excursion 1957' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 56 p. 3
  • Kenyon, R.L., 1901,'Manor of Ruyton of the Eleven Towns' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 1 p. 233
  • 1896, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 8 p. 365
  • Kenyon, R.L., 1891,'The Borough of Ruyton' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 3 p. 237-8, 246
  • Eyton, R.W., 1887, 'The castles of Shropshire' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 10 p. 30
  • 1886, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 9 p. 8
  • 1879, 'Ruyton Castle' Salopian Shreds and Patches Vol. 3 p. 159 (Brief extract, from Ellesmere Ruridecanal Magazine of excavation report) online copy
  • Wilkinson, F.P., Dec 1876-Aug 1880, Ellesmere Ruridecanal Magazine (aka Parish Notes for Ellesmere etc Reports of excavations fully detailed in Trotter, 2004)

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1906, Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Edward II Vol. 5 p. 263 No. 470 (1313) online copy


  • Dalwood, H. and Bryant, V. (eds), 2005, The Central Marches Historic Towns Survey 1992-6 Download online copy
  • Trotter, Lesley, 2004, The History of Ruyton XI Towns Castle (Ruyton XI Towns Heritage Group) online copy
  • Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, 1985, Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 16608