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Hales Castle, Selwood

In the civil parish of Selwood.
In the historic county of Somerset.
Modern Authority of Somerset.
1974 county of Somerset.
Medieval County of Somerset.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST79764424
Latitude 51.19692° Longitude -2.29098°

Hales Castle, Selwood has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


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)

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?
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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