The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Ritton Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Ritton in Wentnor

In the civil parish of Worthen With Shelve.
In the historic county of Shropshire.
Modern Authority of Shropshire.
1974 county of Shropshire.
Medieval County of Shropshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO34449765
Latitude 52.57287° Longitude -2.96852°

Ritton Castle has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Despite some ground disturbance associated with the 19th century settlement, the slight univallate hillfort and the ringwork and bailey castle at Ritton survive as good examples of these classes of monument. It is an interesting example of a prehistoric hillfort which has been modified in the medieval period to form a ringwork and bailey castle. Within the hillfort, partly sealed beneath later occupation deposits, a range of buried features, and artefactual and organic remains are expected to survive, which have the potential to illustrate many aspects of Iron Age life. The hillfort defences will retain evidence of their construction and any alterations made to them in the medieval period. Organic remains surviving in the buried ground surface beneath the rampart and within the external ditch will also provide important information about the local environment and the use of the land before and after the hillfort was constructed. Ringworks are medieval fortifications built and occupied from the late Anglo-Saxon period to the later 12th century. They comprised a small defended area containing buildings which was surrounded or partly surrounded by a substantial ditch and a bank surmounted by a timber palisade or, rarely, a stone wall. Occasionally a more lightly defended embanked enclosed, the bailey, adjoined the ringwork. Ringworks acted as strongholds for military operations and in some cases as defended aristocratic or manorial settlements. In Shropshire, ringworks are comparatively rare in relation to other types of contemporary early medieval castles incorporating a conical mound, or motte. Within the ringwork and bailey the remains of contemporary structures will survive as buried features, which, together with the associated artefacts and organic remains, will provide valuable evidence about the activities and life styles of those who inhabited the site during the medieval period. The ringwork defences will retain significant information about their construction, and the organic remains preserved in the buried ground surface under the rampart and within the associated ditch will also provide additional information about the changes to the local environment and the use of the surrounding land.
The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a slight univallate hillfort, and a ringwork and bailey castle. The hillfort was constructed around a projecting shelf on the north western side of Brooks Hill where the ground slopes steeply to the north, south and west. From this commanding position there are extensive views over the neighbouring valley and the surrounding uplands to the north and west. The hillfort is sub-rectangular in plan, with overall dimensions of 116m north west to south east by 215m south west to north east. The defensive circuit encloses an area of about 1ha. Its size would suggest that it was the settlement of a largish community, perhaps where particular centralised economic and social activities were practiced. Where the surrounding ground falls away steeply the earthwork defences of the hillfort consist of a steep scarp bounded by an external terrace, or berm, which for the most part is between 1m-2m wide. To the west, part of this scarp has also been divided by a narrow berm. On the eastern side, where the ground rises gently to the south east, the hillfort is defined by a bank, which averages 6m wide and 1m high, and an external ditch, which is between 6m and 8m wide and 1m deep. To the south this ditch is bounded by the steep scarp which continues along the western and northern sides of the shelf, and to the north east where the ditch turns outwards to join the scarp. The original entrance into the interior of the hillfort was via a causeway, about 5m wide, through the north eastern part of the defences. In the medieval period the hillfort was reutilised to form a ringwork and bailey castle, which is believed to have been the principal residence, or caput, of Ritton manor. The first known reference to the manor is in a deed of about 1203 when Robert Corbert of Caus granted Ritton to Buildwas Abbey. The ringwork, which was constructed in the northern part of the hillfort, is roughly triangular in shape, measuring approximately 28m south west to north east by 30m north west to south east, internally. The sizeable earthwork defences along its southern side consist of a curving rampart of earth and stone, between 14m and 18m wide and averaging 2.2m high, with an external ditch between 8m and 10m wide, and between 1.2m and 2.2m deep. There is a 4m wide entrance passage through these defences which provides access into the interior. The northern part of the defensive circuit of the ringwork reuses the steep scarp which originally defined the north western corner of the hillfort. The position of the ringwork within the hillfort would suggest that the rest of the hillfort interior served as a bailey to the ringwork, and would therefore have contained a range of ancillary structures, including stores, stables and other domestic accommodation. The earliest large scale Ordnance Survey map published in 1882 shows a small settlement occupying the site. A pathway is shown linking this settlement to the nearby lead mine to the north, which worked intermittently from 1852 to 1874. The mine itself is not included in the scheduling. Apart from mounds of rubble from the demolished buildings, all that remains visible of this settlement is a square embanked enclosure with an adjoining small quarry and several associated shallow sunken trackways. (Scheduling Report)

Ritton was a place in the large manor of Wentnor, held by the Corbet family Barons of Caus. Much of this manor was granted away to the Church including all of Ritton in the first years of the C13 when in went to Buildwas Abbey. Before then this may represent the house of a sub-tenant, although it is difficult to identify one and, presumably, the line of that tenant must have died out before the sub-manor was granted away. If it was a residence then it may well have been an isolated farmstead requiring some defence.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
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.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:32

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact