Fordhall, Moreton Say

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameFordhall, Moreton Say
Alternative NamesMoretoin, Draiton apon Terne; Castlehill Wood; Buntingsdale Hall
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishMoreton Say

An earthwork revealed by tree felling, in Castlehill Wood. It was noticed in 1950 by Mr P Bentley. Opposite Buntingsdale Hall, it is a well fortified site rising out of the alluvial flat, consisting of a sandstone ridge defended by the river Tern and associated marsh on the E, SE and S sides, and on the North by a rampart with a wide external ditch. The hill top is flat, of diameter 70ft, rising 18-20ft from the ditch. A small rampart runs along the W side from the SE. ADS IAM for DOE FI 1970<1>Large Norman ringwork, situated at SJ65103252, incorporates, and is modelled from the upper parts of a glacial morainic mound of sandy soil and small stones. The mound sits atop steep slopes falling to a stream on the E and S but joins gently rising ground to the NW. The base diameter is about 65m and the height to the interior about 3m from the outside ground level on the W. The D shaped interior is 35m in diameter and is enclosed by a rampart, 14m to 17m in width and up to 2m in height. There is a 4m wide entrance in the S side. The NE side has been carried away by a landslip..An outer ditch, 14m in width and 1.2m in depth provides an additional defence on the weak NW side (OS FI 1975) Scheduling revised 2001. Scheduling description: The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a ringwork and bailey castle occupying an elevated position on a spur of land next to the steep north west valley side of the River Tern. From this commanding location there are extensive views of the land to the west and the Tern valley. The ringwork is D-shaped, measuring approximately 30m by 34m internally, and is defined by two ramparts, which are separated by an entrance passage 6m wide to the west. The ringwork is defined on its north eastern side by the bluff created by the adjacent river. The rampart on the southern/south western side is considerably smaller than the one to the north west

It is about 8m wide and stands just less than 1m high, becoming slightly broader and higher at its eastern end. Its defensive strength is significantly enhanced by its position at the top of a steep slope, which has been deliberately accentuated. Down the slope to the south east of this rampart, earth has been deposited to form a level projecting lookout platform, measuring approximately 11m by 16m. The rampart defining the north western side of the ringwork is about 18m wide and stands to a height of 2.5m. It is bounded on its northern side by a broad ditch, up to 19m wide, which becomes narrower towards its southern end where it defines the northern side of the entranceway into the interior. To compensate for natural slope within the ringwork the eastern part of the interior has been raised in order to create a level building platform. On the slight ridge to the north west of the ringwork, a bailey was constructed. Within this enclosure a range of ancillary structures are likely to have been built, including stores, stables and additional domestic accommodation. The north eastern side of the bailey, which is about 45m long, is marked by the bluff formed by the river, which has been partially steepened to increase its defensiveness. The defences constructed to define the north western and south western sides of the bailey are no longer visible at ground level, but will survive as buried features. (Shropshire HER)

Medieval ringwork and bailey incorporating and modelled from the upper part of a glacial mound. The ringwork is 'D' shaped with the bailey to the north west. This castle is unusual as the bailey survives. In Shropshire ringworks are comparatively rare in relation to other contemporary types of early Norman castle incorporating a mound. The base diameter is about 65m and the height to the interior is 3m from the outside ground level on the west. The D-shaped interior is 35m in diameter and is enclosed by a rampart, 14m to 17m in width and up to 2m in height. There is a 4m wide entrance in the south west side. (PastScape)

The ringwork and bailey castle 390m west of Buntingsdale Hall is a well- preserved example of this class of monument. In Shropshire, ringworks are comparatively rare in relation to other contemporary types of early Norman castle incorporating a mound, or motte, on which buildings were constructed. This castle is also unusual in that the associated bailey survives. Extensive remains of the structures that stood within the ringwork and the bailey are expected to survive as buried features which, together with associated artefacts and organic remains, will provide valuable evidence about the activities and the lifestyle of the inhabitants of the castle. Organic remains surviving within the buried ground surfaces under the raised interior of the ringwork, and beneath the ramparts and within the ditches, will provide information about the changes to the local environment and the use of the land before and after the castle was constructed.

The monument remains a prominent feature within the landscape.

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a ringwork and bailey castle occupying an elevated position on a spur of land next to the steep north west valley side of the River Tern. From this commanding location there are extensive views of the land to the west and the Tern valley.

The ringwork is D-shaped, measuring approximately 30m by 34m internally, and is defined by two ramparts, which are separated by an entrance passage 6m wide to the west. The ringwork is defined on its north eastern side by the bluff created by the adjacent river. The rampart on the southern/south western side is considerably smaller than the one to the north west. It is about 8m wide and stands just less than 1m high, becoming slightly broader and higher at its eastern end. Its defensive strength is significantly enhanced by its position at the top of a steep slope, which has been deliberately accentuated. Down the slope to the south east of this rampart, earth has been deposited to form a level projecting lookout platform, measuring approximately 11m by 16m. The rampart defining the north western side of the ringwork is about 18m wide and stands to a height of 2.5m. It is bounded on its northern side by a broad ditch, up to 19m wide, which becomes narrower towards its southern end where it defines the northern side of the entranceway into the interior. To compensate for natural slope within the ringwork the eastern part of the interior has been raised in order to create a level building platform.

On the slight ridge to the north west of the ringwork, a bailey was constructed. Within this enclosure a range of ancillary structures are likely to have been built, including stores, stables and additional domestic accommodation. The north eastern side of the bailey, which is about 45m long, is marked by the bluff formed by the river, which has been partially steepened to increase its defensiveness. The defences constructed to define the north western and south western sides of the bailey are no longer visible at ground level, but will survive as buried features. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Despite being 'a prominent feature within the landscape' was first recognised in 1950, although the site was called Castlehill Wood on 1888 map. It seems to have remained little recognised for many years. Not picked up in David Cathcart King's survey. Possible site for castle mentioned by Leland as 'Draiton apon Terne'. A castle of Moretoin was mentioned in 1215. Isolated from modern settlement but in a strong defensive position in loop of river. The most difficult aspect of this castle is identifying a tenurial history. Although it is now in modern Moreton Say civil parish it is on the edge of the parish boundary. Gatehouse speculates this may represent an early site for one of the sub-manors of Longford, part of Hodnet manor (although in Moreton Say parish). If so then it was abandoned as a residence at a relatively early date and the family moved to the site of Fordhall farm. Flooding seems to have been a problem for the nearby ford of the Roman Road, as a commission to investigate the state of the road there is recorded in 1319.. Was flooding the reason for abandoning the ringwork? Was the ringwork fundamentally a defence against flooding?

- 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 ReferenceSJ651325
Latitude52.8889999389648
Longitude-2.52012991905212
Eastings365100
Northings332520
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
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Books

  • Duckers, Peter and Anne, 2006, Castles of Shropshire (Stroud: Tempus) p. 76
  • Salter, Mike, 2001 (2edn), The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 43
  • Jackson, M.J.,1988, Castles of Shropshire (Shrewsbury: Shropshire Libraries) p. 25-6
  • Eyton, R.W., 1859, Antiquities of Shropshire (London: John Russell Smith) Vol. 9 p. 337- (tenurial history) online copy

Journals

  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)) p. 273 (historical reference to 'Moretoin' not linked by Brown to this site)

Other

  • English Heritage, 2001, Scheduling Papers (Revision, 09/03/2001)
  • Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, 1987, Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 32462 (11/05/1987)