Hales Castle, Selwood

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameHales Castle, Selwood
Alternative Names
Historic CountrySomerset
Modern AuthoritySomerset
1974 AuthoritySomerset
Civil ParishSelwood

A ringwork on the lower end of a gently sloping spur. Roughly circular enclosing 0.11 ha within univallate earthworks. The defences are greatest on the upper and lower stretches, relying more on the natural slopes along the sides. They consist of a bank 0.3 -1.2m high, a ditch below 0.2 - 1.6m deep (the ramparts overall being 1.6 -2.6m high) and a slight counterscarp. The bank and counterscarp have flattened tops. The interior is naturally higher than the surrounding land except on the uphill side. The entrance on the NW from downhill consists of a slight causeway and a gap in the bank. Just inside this to one side is a hollow with a spoil mound, perhaps the site of a well. Outside the ringwork is a system of field banks, scarps and ditches 0.1-0.4m high or deep. The scarping indicates ploughing at some time, perhaps the middle ages. On the north they incorporate what is perhaps an unfinished bailey. Flint flake found in erosion scar on external face of rampart (A. Preece, 1993, English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme fieldwork). (Somerset HER)

The monument includes a ringwork and associated earthworks situated on top of the lower end of a gently sloping spur below Roddenbury Hill. The ringwork is roughly circular, with an internal area of 0.11ha. enclosed by univallate earthworks. The defences are greatest around the upper and lower parts of the site, relying more on the natural slopes at the sides, and consist of a bank 0.3m-1.2m high internally, an external ditch 0.2m-1.6m deep (the ramparts overall being 1.6m-2.6m high) and a slight counterscarp 0.2m-0.3m high. Both inner bank and counterscarp have flattened tops. The interior of the ringwork slopes down to the north west and is naturally higher than the surrounding land except on the south east. The entrance to the interior is on the north west, from downhill, and consists of a slight causeway across the ditch and a simple gap in the inner bank

A circular hollow 0.4m deep inside the entrance with an associated spoil mound may be the site of a well. Outside the ringwork and adjoining it or abutting it is a system of field banks, scarps and ditches 0.1m-0.4m high/deep. The scarping indicates that the small fields formed by these were regularly ploughed at some time, perhaps in the Middle Ages. On the north they incorporate what is possibly an unfinished bailey. (Scheduling Report)

Hales Castle is situated as the northern slope of Roddenbury Hill in a position that commands a large area to the north and north-west. It appears to be a ring motte with an apparently unfinished bailey, on the north. The entrance to the bailey is near the centre of the north side, and opposite this there seems to have been a drawbridged entrance to the motte. No building remains can be seen. (PastScape ref. Field Investigators Comments F1 GHP 21-AUG-64)

Gatehouse Comments

Seems, by castelologists, to be accepted as a medieval castle but the location and form is equally that of an Iron Age site and is included by Burrow in his survey of Somerset hillforts. Was within the royal forest of Selwood, which dates from Saxon times. Does this represent the Domesday manor of Rodden (Reddene) held in from Edric the sheriff by Arnulf of Hesdin? If so was this a residence of Arnulf, possibly a hunting lodge, or a farmstead of a knightly sub-tenant?

- 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 ReferenceST797442
Latitude51.1969184875488
Longitude-2.29098010063171
Eastings379760
Northings144240
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Creative Commons License
Castle Photographs by D J Steward 2012 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print

Books

  • Prior, Stuart, 2006, A Few Well-Positioned Castles: The Norman Art of War (Tempus) p. 68-109
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 444
  • Burrow, I., 1981, Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in the First to Eighth Centuries AD (British Archaeological Reports 91)
  • Burrow, Edward J., 1924, Ancient Earthworks and Camps of Somerset (Cheltenham and London) p. 108
  • Bothamley, 1911, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Somerset Vol. 2 p. 508-9

Journals

  • Thomas, G.A.P. and Jones, G.D.B., 1978, 'The East Somerset Survey 1975-77' Aerial Archaeology Vol. 2 p. 68-70 (mention)
  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127

Other

  • Prior, Stuart, 2004, "Winning Strategies" An Archaeological Study of Norman Castles in the Landscapes of Somerset, Monmouthshire and County Meath, 1066-1186 (PhD thesis; University of Bristol) Vol. 2 p. 143 Download via EThOS
  • Burrow, I.C.G., 1979, Aspects of Hillfort and Hill-top settlement in Somerset. In the first to eighth centuries A.D. (PhD Thesis University of Birmingham) p. 384 Download via EThOS