Bishops Castle town defences

Has been described as a Possible Urban Defence

There are no visible remains

NameBishops Castle town defences
Alternative Names
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishBishops Castle

Town defences identified by D Hill, and excavated in two locations (SA5141 and SA5142) CMHTS Comment:- Defences were replaced by back lanes before post medieval period; identified course from OS map 1883. Fieldwork (1994) showed most obvious indications of defences at S end of defended area. The SE angle (in Station Street) is wall 1.0m high revetting raised ground to NW; similarly SW angle in Union Street is wall 2m high. Houses along NW to SE alignment of Union Street/Station Street are terraced into higher ground, with revetting walls up to 2.0m high. There is a low revetting wall in places along W side of Station Street, and a slightly raised area in garden of Hill View in NW angle of defences. The west side of defences along Union Street is not clearly marked although there is a steep bank 2m high on west side of Union Street. The defences are not readily apparent as earthworks but seem to leave slight traces. (Shropshire SMR record)

Bishop's Castle was regarded by Beresford (1967, 151) as one of a relatively small number of towns in England with a clear grid pattern (see also Rowley 1972, 175). However Butler (1976, 32-3) has pointed out that the grid layout is not very convincing, and it is now clear that some elements of the supposed street grid are the defences of the borough fossilised as streets. The available evidence indicates that the planned town was laid out on the axial alignment of a single street between the castle and the main east-west route (Hindle nd). (Dalwood and Bryant 2005)

Gatehouse Comments

The excavation were inconclusive and have not been published and Gatehouse wonders if the revetting is purely about terracing the hillside for level building platforms probably with the usual boundary ditch which acted as a boundary marker and drain rather than a defence. There are no historical sources to support town defences here. However it does appear that Dalwood and Bryant did not doubt the existence of defenses here, although no other author of town defences has considered the town as defended. The given map reference is for the parish church, at the bottom of the hill and the opposite end of the town from the castle although it is not clear that this is included in the putative circuit of town defences.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSO323884
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  • Butler, L., 1976. 'The evolution of towns: planted towns after 1066' in M.W. Barley (ed) The towns and topography of medieval towns in England and Wales (CBA Research Report 14) p. 32-48 online copy
  • Rowley, T., 1972, The Shropshire landscape p. 175
  • Beresford, M.W., 1967, New towns of the middle ages (Lutterworth Press) p. 151


  • Dalwood, H. and Bryant, V. (eds), 2005, The Central Marches Historic Towns Survey 1992-6 Download online copy
  • Buteux, V. and Dalwood, H., 1993-96, CMHTS SMR Records Shropshire: Acton Burnell to Bishop's Castle, Bishops Castle 5145
  • Dalwood, H. et al, 1996, Archaeological Assessment of Bishop's Castle, Shropshire (CMHTS)
  • Hindle, B.P., nd Bishop's Castle unpublished typescript