Castle Ring, Staffordshire

This comes from Silverwolf.

Castle Ring is an Iron Age hill fort, situated high up on the southern edge of Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, near Cannock Wood.  You can locate it on the map below at the South East corner of the Chase, as a pale green circle next to the Guide/Scout camp, just above the marker for Cannock Wood. It once lead onto the site where Beaudesert Hall once stood. Beaudesert Hall was the ancestral home of the Earl of Anglesey, who previously owned the surrounding area, until it was burned to the ground during the late Earls lifetime. Now it sidles up to Beaudesert Scout and Guide camp which is far enough away from the ring to not affect your enjoyment of it, but close enough to hear some of the evenings sing-a-longs!

Cannock Chase Map

Cannock Chase Map

Castle Ring was thought to have been occupied around AD 50, by the Celtic Cornovii tribe.  Apart from the perimeter earthworks, little remains visible. However, there is also evidence of farming having taken place at some point, since parts of the ground within in the ring have been ploughed. This was probably done during the Medieval period, when a hunting lodge was also built on the North West side.  You can see the remains of the ploughing (groups of parallel lines at right angles to each other) on the South East of the enclosure, and the rectangular remains of the hunting lodge at the North West on the picture taken in 1931:

Castle Ring 1931

Castle Ring 1931

The ring is the remains of an Iron Age Hill Fort consisting of a central reservation, three Ramparts and deep ditches between which, when the innermost and highest rampart was adorned with a strong wooden palisade, served to protect those who lived within its walls quite admirably. In the days before the woods of Cannock Chase Forest enclosed the site, it was believed that people could see into four different counties from its vantage point as one of the highest points in the West Midlands.  Settlers came to this site for two main reasons.  One was that it was a secure place against invasions and the other was the abundant supplies of flint that the area offered.

View from Castle Ring facing NE

View from Castle Ring facing NE

Castle RIng West Side

Castle RIng, West Side

The above picture shows the path leading round the site.  The right of the picture is the interior of the ring.

Over the years, Castle Ring has seen its fair share of alleged paranormal activity.  Eye witnesses have reported to a local research group PASSA (Paranormal Awakening Scientific Study Association) the sighting of black figures moving around in the centre of the ring, white figures doing the same (both in daylight as well as at night), noises of hammering, chanting and singing (although this could be one of the many pagan groups who use this site for rituals, myself included), Yeti or Bigfoot type creatures in the surrounding areas, Wolves, Black Panthers, U.F.Os, Aliens, Earth Lights………. In fact, there is so much alleged activity at the ring and other places of interest on Cannock Chase, that the local free papers have started their own Cannock Chase X-Files!  However, over a period of seven years encompassing twenty odd investigations (that’s a lot of nights sitting in the middle of the ring in all weathers and walking around the ramparts in pitch black carrying audio and video equipment),   PASSA. have been able to explain most of the phenomenon reported.

Also, it is believed that the dead from the fort were carried out and buried at a nearby site, which is now where the village church stands in Gentleshaw!  How true this is, I do not know, but it makes for a good ghost story, along with other ghostly tales of Cannock Wood and Gentleshaw (both villages are actually one but keep two separate names with the villagers being very protective over their half).  However, some research has cast a doubt on the claims of where the pagan burial site was, as some experts believe the dead would have been buried just outside of the fort in burial mounds.  There are a few large mounds there as well.  Other area ghostly tales include the ‘Children of the Old Mill’ and the ‘Sad Nun of Nunswell’.

On-Site Facilities:

There are no facilities at Castle Ring with the exception of a car park, which is locked up at night!  However, there is a reasonably good pub opposite the car park entrance which provides decent food if you need it, so travelling to Castle Ring isn’t so bad.  If you want to visit (and I hope you do) the address in brief is Castle Ring Ancient Monument, Cannock Wood, Rugeley, Staffs.  The area code is WS15.  Once you near the village, it is well sign-posted and well worth a visit as the energy is electric.

Other areas of interest on Cannock Chase are the Commonwealth War Graves, The German Cemetery, The old WW1 and WW2 training sites and a prisoner of war site.  All have the odd ghostly tale attached to them and are worth a visit.  You could even go the Forestry Commissions Visitor Centre and another visitor centre where you can hire mountain bikes and eat should you want to.  There are many beautiful walks near to Castle Ring boasting some of the most lovely forests, lakes and wildlife in abundance.  For those who would like to know more about the Chase History and it’s mining community, there is also a small museum in Hednesford (about three miles from Castle Ring.)

So there you have it……….. Castle Ring and the surrounding areas in a nutshell! We hope you enjoy your visit, when you go 🙂

Silverwolf.

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9 thoughts on “Castle Ring, Staffordshire

  1. Hi there,

    I wonder if you could give me some more information on ‘The Children of the Old Mill’ story, as a friend of mine has seen them!!

    Any information would be much appreciated.

    Thank you
    Julia Kent

    • Hi Julia,
      I can’t personally, but I’ll contact Silverwolf for you and ask her to drop a comment about what she knows about the story 🙂

  2. hi mom 🙂

    yeh this is definately a story i want to find out aswell, as i used to work at the windmill

    also could someone find out if anything has ever happened with a car along that road?

    one evening after work i was cycling back home around 12 midnight and i saw car headlights coming up behind me, as i cycled around the corner i obviously expected the car lights to follow me around the corner to which this scarily did not happen. About a year later i had left working there and my brother now had a job at ye olde windmill of which exactly the same thing happened to him whilst on the way home.

    thanks
    matt

  3. The windmill in Gentleshaw was built in 1790 on the site of an ancient pagan burial ground. It now stands a ruin, next to the village church and graveyard. The story of the windmill is as follows:-

    John Bonell was the first recorded Miller of this village. He had several children but two children, John and Jane, unfortunately, died in very mysterious circumstances inside the mill. This happened in 1807 when John aged 7 and Jane aged 6, were working inside the building as they usually did. The children were weighing some grain sacks on the first floor. They ladled the fresh white, dusty flour into the larger sacks ready for collection. The first floor was where the grain was hauled up from the ground in sacks, through a trap door, by means of a rope connected to a pulley which was driven by the sails turning in the wind. The trap doors could only be opened by the lifting force of the grain bags as they rose up! Once the bags were through, the doors would bang shut as gravity took over. So what happened to John and Jane? They fell through the open trap doors at a time when no sacks were being lifted through. Their mother, Elizabeth, was outside at the time and she heard the children scream. She ran inside to witness her children falling through the open doors and the doors to slam shut behind them. No-one had been with the children on the first floor and no grain was being pulled up to enable the heavy doors to open. The verdict at an inquest in Lichfield was accidental death.
    Then the windmill became haunted. People in the public house next door can sometimes hear the trap doors slam shut, even though they no longer exist!
    One farm hand who lived on Cumberledge Hill was passing the mill with his horse when he saw two young children, coated in white powder, playing around the mill. When he went to see whose children they were, they had vanished.
    In 1905 two carpenters bought the old mill to use the three floors to make and store coffins. The business flourished for a while until one gent from Chase Terrace came to purchase a coffin for his departed wife. On the ground floor the carpenters had the beautiful, expensive coffins stored, but this gent wanted a ‘cheaper’ pine coffin so they went to the first floor to look at them. Two pine coffins were ready for inspection and so the gent lifted the lid on one whilst the carpenter lifted the lid on the other. Each let out a scream and fled. Inside each coffin was a body of a child, covered in flour. Needless to say, the word quickly spread and the carpenters went out of business.
    To this day, the people of Cannock Wood and Gentleshaw can sometimes hear the happy screams of children at play and in the snow, on the odd occasion, two sets of small footprints can be seen circling the mill.

    Well, that’s the story of the mill as I was told, by one of their descendants! Hope this helps 🙂

  4. Absolutely wonderful story. I’m from Leeds but have often visited friends in the area and spent many a happy afternoon in said pub. Wish I’d have known the ghost story would have been worth a visit in the dark!

    Tony

  5. The miller John Bonell had 8 children and he was my 5th x great grandfather. His son John Bonell who was supposed to have died according to this story was my 4th great grandfather and having studied the family tree I know for a fact that he died on 9th Feb 1837 in Gentleshaw aged 81 years and was buried on the 14th February. His sister Jane Bonell was the licensed victualler of the Windmill Inn from 1871 -1886 when she died aged 89. I am curious therefore as to where this ghost story came from?

    • Hail and Welcome Marilyn,
      Cherill was our guest writer for this post, so I’ll ask her to come onto the site and leave you a comment 🙂

      In Frith,

      Amalasuntha and Tiro

    • Hi Maryilyn.

      This version of Gentleshaw Mill is taken from a book by a local author Alan T Brookes, entitled Tales of Cannock Chase. Of course, there may be some ‘licence of translation’ in there, but not much! Also, it comes from alleged ‘witness statements’ from villagers themselves. I lived in Cannock Wood/Gentleshaw and heard these ‘stories’ first -hand. Of course, this kind of story does tend to be exaggerated and elaborated upon over the years!
      I hope this has answered your question.

      Silverwolf

      • Hi
        Thanks for your reply and I’ll check out the book. Still seems odd though that as members of my family have lived in Gentleshaw right through to the 1960s that no-one in our family ever told the story. Personally I reckon old Ned Bonell had a bit too much of the harvest cider!!

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