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Callow Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Callow Hill; Hogstow

In the civil parish of Minsterley.
In the historic county of Shropshire.
Modern Authority of Shropshire.
1974 county of Shropshire.
Medieval County of Shropshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ38440480
Latitude 52.63758° Longitude -2.91116°

Callow Castle has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a Masonry Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The castle was built on the site of an Iron Age hill fort on Callow Hill at SJ 38440480 (SJ 30 SE 1). This castle, probably built of stone, was disused by about 1274, but its remains were observed by Leland about 1540 (VCH 1968).
Recent examination of the hill fort revealed nothing about the site of a castle, but a charter of about 1274-8 .... speaks uncomprisingly of a "castellum" here to which the service of two half knights fees had formerly pertained (Longleat Mss). Leland mentions the "ruins of a castle or pile", but this could be a reference to the hill fort (Lawson 1965; Leland (Toulmin-Smith 1908)).
The earthwork on Callow Hill could be a "ringwork". There is no evidence of a castle within the earthwork (F1 MHB 16-JUL-71). (PastScape)

The castle was built on the site of the Iron Age hillfort on Callow Hill (SA 1048). This castle, probably built of stone, was disused by about 1274, but its remains were observed by Leland about 1540. Stone taken in 1688 from Callow Hill for the foundations of Minsterley Chapel, may have come from the castle (VCH 1968).
An examination of the hillfort (SA 1048) has revealed nothing which would suggest the site of a castle, but a charter of 1274 -8 refers to a castellum here to which the service of two half knights fees had formerly pertained (Longleat Ms). The castle was clearly disused at this date and was probably of stone, for in c 1540 John Leland speaks of substantial remains of a castle between Pontesbury and Hogstow Wood, which can only refer to Callow Castle (Lawson 1965)
There is no evidence of a castle within the earthwork on Callow Hill. OS FI 1971
2001 Scheduling documentation for the hillfort concurs that there is no visible indication to suggest that the remains of the castle lie within (Shropshire HER)

A quarter-mile or more from Pontesbury Church is a wood called Hogstow Forest, which belongs to the manor of Caus, and halfway between the church and this wood the ruins of a castle or tower belonging to Lord Powys are visible on top of (a hill). From this hill it is possible to see Shrewsbury and many other places in the area. (Chandler 1993 - transcription and modernisation of Leland)

Lawson states this could only be Callow Hill, although that is well over a mile from Pontesbury and overlooks the village of Minsterley. Gatehouse does not think Leland's location is Callow Hill. This is a hilly area with a number of notable hills close to Pontesbury, most notably Earl's Hill with its peak 320m OD at SJ409048 (also the site of a pre-historic camp Scheduled Monument 1020152). The view of Shrewsbury from Earl's hill would be better than that from Callow Hill. Leland's Itinery is a difficult source often in the form of unedited notes it may be the 'castel or pile apon' was not upon a hill (as assumed by Chandler) or that if on a hill it was the same hill as the one with the view of Shrewsbury. However given the description, the topography and the place name evidence (Earl's Hill) it is my opinion that Leland was referring to the camp on Earl's Hill, which has rock cut ditches which may well have made it look (when overgrown) like a collapsed masonry building. The location was reused as an WWII observation post but there is nothing to suggest medieval occupation.
Gatehouse has not seen the charter of1274-8. It would unusually for such a charter to give an exact location. Does this charter refer to Pontesbury, which certainly had a castle in the town beside the church or to Minsterley. If it refers to a castle at Minsterley none is known and it is then conceivable to see how a record to a castellum, a vague description by Leland and a set of mainly false preconceptions as to the form and function of small medieval castles could have lead to the identification of Callow Hill as a castle. The refer to stone being taken from Callow Hill may be to quarrying of bedrock rather than stone robbing (a modern quarry adjoins the site).
Minsterley was a quite large manor noted in Domesday as sub-tenanted by Roger son of Corbet. It is entirely possible Roger and his successors (or their sub-tenants) had a manor house of some size, functioning as the manor's administrative and legal centre (sometimes called a castellum in early records), although it's location is unknown but likely to be in the village.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:32

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