Herefordshire Beacon, Colwall

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

There are earthwork remains

NameHerefordshire Beacon, Colwall
Alternative NamesThe Citadel; British Camp
Historic CountryHerefordshire
Modern AuthorityHerefordshire
1974 AuthorityHereford and Worcester
Civil ParishColwall

A well preserved and spectacular Iron Age hillfort of two or more phases with over 100 possible hut circles. The hillfort originally covered at area of approximately 8 acres. The site was apparently reused as the site of a medieval ringwork, possibly in a further two phases, and grew to an area of around 32 acres in size. The site is also known as British Camp. (PastScape)

A rock-cut ditch, ovoid plan surrounds a disturbed platform with a possible minute attenuated bailey to the east. Interior is a platforme which slopes markedly from SE to NW. Substantial rampart on E and S sides, slight to the N and on the W it is absent. Within the bailey are remains of a rectangular building 4m by 10m. Two mounds either side of the path nearby have no sign, possibly are natural but the E mound appears to be part of a bank across the ride that suggests they are artificial. There are two main theories – that the castle was built during the anarchy, when King Steven and the Angevins were fighting in Gloucestershire, and fortifications burnt at Tewkesbury and Winchcombe. The more plausible theory is that the castle could be classed with the other early Norman hill castles, or possibly be early pre Norman. (Herefordshire SMR ref. Bowden, 2000)

Gatehouse Comments

Paul Martin Remfry suggest that Harold Godwinson may have built a castle here. Ringwork & bailey, probably a large stone shell keep, as there are definite signs of a stone gateway on the bailey & stone all over the site. Although some medieval pottery has been found along with dressed stonework, previous excavations have confused the record.

- 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 ReferenceSO759400
Latitude52.057861328125
Longitude-2.35143995285034
Eastings375980
Northings240060
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Bob Embleton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Bob Embleton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

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Books

  • Shoesmith, Ron, 2009 (Rev edn.), Castles and Moated Sites of Herefordshire (Logaston Press) p. 93-4
  • Remfry, P.M., 2008, The Herefordshire Beacon and the families of King Harold II and the earls of Hereford and Worcester (Castle Studies Research & Publishing)
  • Salter, Mike, 2000, Castles of Herefordshire and Worcestershire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 40
  • Remfry, Paul M., 1996, The Herefordshire Beacon, 1048 to 1154 (SCS Publishing: Worcestershire)
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 99
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 200, 239
  • Stirling-Brown, R., 1989, Herefordshire Castles (privately published) p. 94
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 204
  • 1981, Herefordshire Countryside Treasures (Hereford and Worcester County Council) p. 70
  • Stanhope, S., 1980, Archaeology of the Welsh Marches p. 94
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 205
  • Toy, Sidney, 1953, The Castles of Great Britain (Heinemann)
  • RCHME, 1932, An inventory of the historical monuments in Herefordshire Vol. 2: east p. 55-7 no. 34 online transcription
  • Burrow, Edward J., 1919, The Ancient Entrenchments and Camps of Gloucestershire (Cheltenham and London) p. 156, 158-60
  • Gould, I. Chalkley, 1908, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Herefordshire Vol. 1 p. 205-6
  • Allcroft, A. Hadrian, 1908, Earthwork of England (London) p. 121-2 online copy
  • McKay, 1875, The British Camp on the Herefordshire Beacon (Malvern: Folly Publications)
  • Card, 1822, Dissertation on the subject of the Herefordshire Beacon (London)
  • King, Edward, 1799, Munimenta antiqua or Observations on antient castles (W.Bulmer and Co) Vol. 1 p. 19-21 online copy

Antiquarian

Journals

  • 1998-99, 'Pre-Conquest Castles in Herefordshire' Castle Studies Group Newsletter No. 12 p. 33-4 online copy
  • Sterling Brown, R., 1988, 'Preliminary Results of Castle Survey' Herefordshire Archaeological News Vol. 50 p. 41
  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • 1965, Antiquity Vol. 39 pl. XLI
  • 1959, Antiquaries Journal Vol. 39 p. 241n1
  • Wheeler, R.E.M., 1952, 'The Herefordshire Beacon Hill Fort' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 109 p. 146-8 online copy
  • Hawkes, C.F., 1931, Antiquaries Journal Vol. 11 p. 83
  • Price, F.G.H., 1881, Journal of the Anthropological Institute Vol. 10 p. 319-31
  • Price, F.G.H., 1880, 'Herefordshire Beacon Camp' Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club p. 220-28

Other

  • Bowden, M., 2000, British Camp or Herefordshire Beacon (English Heritage Investigation Report. English Heritage)