Cannock Wood, near Cannock, Staffordshire.
Castle Ring hill fort, although not yet dated, may be assumed to have been built over two thousand years ago, near the modern village of Cannock Wood. Standing at 795 feet (261m) above sea level, it is the highest point on Cannock Chase. This forest, now largely consisting of coniferous trees which would not have been in evidence at the time of the forts use, now closely surrounds the fort through 270º and so veils the panoramic view that it had in its heyday, when the trees would have been kept at a distance. Yet the northern aspect is unhindered and affords a fine view over the south-eastern corner of the Chase and the terrain beyond, though sadly a little blemished by the more recent addition of a coal power station at Rugeley, several miles distant. As is common with hillforts in the Midlands area, one fort can see several others on the horizon, and the occupiers of Castle Ring would have been able to see another fort, 4½ miles to the south, at Brownhills, and to the west as far as 20 miles to the Wrekin.
The fort at its widest point measures 790 feet (260m) across, and its interior encompasses some 8½ acres. It consists of a single, vaguely pentangular ditch, which, on the northern face, sinks to a depth of 12 feet (4m), though in most places it is a good deal shallower than this; the effects of two thousand years of erosion. A path, which was created in the Victorian era, sits on top of this rampart and follows it about the perimeter. Originally there was only one entranceway to the fort, although today this is not immediately apparent as a track cuts directly through the middle of it, from east to west, and makes it seem as though there are two entrances. The eastern entrance is the original one, the western was opened during the 19th Century to extend a trackway through to the hall at Beaudesert.
Castle Ring ceased to be occupied in 50 A.D. The reason is not known, though it may be assumed that the change in culture brought about by the Roman Invasion was a factor; tribal settlements situated on hills being at odds with Latin methods. During the 12th or 13th Century, a hunting lodge was established inside the fort and its foundations can still be made out in the eastern portion. At some stage, not at all certain when but perhaps during the Medieval period by their design, the eastern interior of the fort was ploughed and farmed.
Guide to Photographs