What a cracking place to visit this is!
A bit of a maze of country lanes to traverse but when you get close it is sign posted.
A large free car park and an easy short walk past an information board takes you to the Hillfort. Dafydd decided to stay in the car with Karen which meant that Sophie visited her first site properly – at the ripe old age of 4 months! (Previously she has sat in the car with her mother)
You can walk right around the site in 15 minutes and there are good views to be had. The ramparts/ditches are fairly well preserved – particularly the section near the trees which has several banks of defences. The centre of the Hillfort is fairly flat and is easy to cross – no fences for a change. This would make a good place to come for a picnic on a nice day.
All in all definitely worth a visit when in the area.
(I think Sophie enjoyed it??)
Been meaning to come here for ages, Cannock Wood being not far from the M56 junction of the M6 'n all. But you know how things are? Well, finally made it on the way back to Essex from Cumbria - a bit of a pain to find without an OS map - but well worth the effort for hillfort fans.
Now Sunday morning's probably not the best time to come here, judging by the hordes of local dog walkers letting their stinking creatures do their 'business' all over the ramparts, but there you are. 'Take your opportunities while you can' has always been my motto.
So what of the hillfort, if understandably somewhat lacking in vibe? Actually I'm impressed. A large, powerful inner rampart is fully accessible (shame about the outer defences, however), the gorgeous autumn colours of Cannock Chase adding a, well, gorgeous backdrop. Why, even the cooling towers of Rugeley Power Station do not particularly detract from the scene as I munch my chicken and mushroom slice at the highest point. The defences appear bi-vallate at this point (to the north), multiplying to at least three - possible more - ramparts and ditches at the more vulnerable southern approach. Trouble is the fern cover is so extensive it's difficult to be certain. I make the main entrance to be at the eastern end - traces of 'barbican' outworks? - but whether this is original? Hard to be sure with such accessible sites.
So, probably not worth a long drive to get here, but well worth a diversion if travelling up/down the M6!
Castle Ring is situated adjacent to the small villiage of Cannock Wood in Staffordshire (not to be confused with the larger town of Cannock). Only living a 10 minute drive away I'm up there at least once a month. It's not obvious to the casual observer what it actually is, and I'm sure that many dog walkers gopast it or over it without giving it a second thought.
From the top of the structure, being the highest point on Cannock Chase you can see right across the forest that covers most of the chase and which is steeped in mystery and folklore (see Nick Redfern's books "3 men seeking monsters" and "Man Monkey" for detail about that).
I find Castle Ring confounding since the information provided at the site at the local tourist information says that there is evidence of agriculture inside the ring but no settlements as such which really makes you wonder. Why would a community fortify a field? what was it they were growing that needed to be protected? Was this a religious site of some kind, for open air rituals on the point closest to the heavens?
To me, Cannock Chase is a very special, Castle Ring one of my favourite spots there.
The site is on the southern edge of Cannock Chase, and is reached by unclassified roads, which are well signposted (brown heritage signs).
Ample parking (25 or so spaces), but a popular spot with walkers and can get busy at weekends.
The highest point on Cannock chase (801 ft/244m above sea level) according to the guides 3.4 hectares.
The bank is extant and can be walked around the full circumference. The original (and largest) entrance is to the east. Parts of the bank and ditch are still impressive (up to 4m).
Internally: trees have been cleared, there are stone foundations (NW sector), but these are from a later period and ridges and furrows (SE sector) probably from ploughing, but I expect these are also from a later period. The ground rises upwards from the south to the northwest.
Externally: impressive series of banks and ditches, from the carpark heading in a anti-clockwise direction (E) we counted at least three banks, whereas Dyer (Discovering Prehistoric England) could make out five. As you make your way around to the north only the main bank and ditch remain, continuing back to the carpark (W) two banks and ditches are clearly visible.
We visited late january and the entrance from the carpark was waterlogged, I would imagine in spring/summer the ferns will be a problem. Also prepare yourself for the view of Rugeley Power Station's cooling towers.
The carpark is just beyond the Park Gate Inn which serves food.