Skip to content

We use cookies to make the site simpler. Find out more about cookies

Close alert

Stephens Castle

Stephens Castle is a pleasant and popular place for walkers and wildlife enthusiasts, with magnificent views from the higher ground across south east Dorset, and footpath links to North Ringwood Forest.

The 'Castle' is an Iron Age barrow at the top of an old sand and gravel quarry. Legend has it that Stephen was a local tribal chief of great strength. He was supposed to have hurled the 'Stephen stone' half a mile into Ringwood Forest, no mean feat as the stone weighs around 3 tonnes! The barrow was excavated by archaeologists in 1828, when human remains dating back to the Iron Age were found.

Verwood once had a thriving pottery and brick industry which was sourced by the abundance of clay and fuelled by the gorse and birch found on the heaths. The arrival of the railway brought a change to the fortunes of the people of Verwood in 1866 by making lighter enamel goods more easily obtainable from around the country. This has resulted in the traditional management techniques being abandoned. Stephens Castle itself was formerly used as a mineral quarry which changed the topography dramatically.

A fire in Spring 2015 damaged part of the site but it is now making a good recovery.

Nearest Town Verwood
Look out for The heathland is home to many rare plants and animals, including Sand Lizards, Smooth Snakes, Grayling, Small Heath, Nightjar, Stonechat and Dartford Warbler. Ponds on the heath also support several species of Dragonfly and Damselfly and all three newt species. It also contains round and oblong leaved sundew. The south east corner of the site is home to huge swathes of Bog Asphodel and the smaller of the two ponds contains Bladderwort, which can be seen flowering in July. This is a protected insectivorous species that forms a network of underwater bladders which trap the food.
Habitats Wet and dry lowland heath
Site designations

Local Nature Reserve, Site of Special Scientific Interest, Scheduled Ancient Monument, Site of Nature Conservation Interest

Nearest bus stop Ringwood Road, Wilts and Dorset bus route 
Nearest train station Bournemouth (15 miles)
Grid reference SU 090 094
Size 20 hectares
Parking Parking is available at the side of Moorlands Road but please do not block access to the Verwood Brass Band HQ or the British Legion.
Accessibility Open Access area, some paths are very sandy in places and there are some quite steep slopes, accessible kissing gates at all entrances. 1 mile circular all weather path starting and finishing from the rear of Hillside School.
Facilities Benches, dog bins at most entrances
Owner East Dorset District Council
Managed by Christchurch and East Dorset Countryside Team
How to get there

From Ringwood Road (B3081) heading west, pass the recreation ground on your right and continue to a roundabout. Take the last exit turning right and follow the road up to another roundabout. Take the last exit turning right again. Follow the signs for the British Legion which will lead you into Moorlands Road.

From 3-Legged Cross (Manor Road, B3072) keep heading north towards Verwood. When you get to the cross road with Ringwood Road turn left and continue to a roundabout. Take the last exit turning right and follow the road up to another roundabout. Take the last exit turning right again. Follow this road around into Moorlands Road.

Christchurch & East Dorset Landscape & Countryside Team

Name: Christchurch & East Dorset Landscape & Countryside Team
Email: countryside@christchurchandeastdorset.gov.uk
Tel: 01202 795684
Full details for Christchurch & East Dorset Landscape & Countryside Team

Rate this page

Have some feedback?

Your feedback

This form is to report content that is wrong, or any issues or feedback you have about the web page.

Contact us if you want to get in touch about a council service instead.

All fields are required.

Leave your email address so that we can provide a response.

This helps us direct your feedback to the appropriate council.

General data protection regulation (GDPR)

We will only use the personal information supplied by you in accordance with GDPR. By giving us this information you are consenting to such use as set out in our privacy notice.