Ancient Monuments

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Slight univallate hillfort called Crawford Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Spetisbury, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.8172 / 50°49'2"N

Longitude: -2.1223 / 2°7'20"W

OS Eastings: 391479.234666

OS Northings: 101972.319456

OS Grid: ST914019

Mapcode National: GBR 1ZX.Q87

Mapcode Global: FRA 66FY.508

Entry Name: Slight univallate hillfort called Crawford Castle

Scheduled Date: 13 December 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004563

English Heritage Legacy ID: DO 99

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Spetisbury

Built-Up Area: Spetisbury

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Spetisbury St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a slight univallate hillfort, situated on a low hill on the western bank of the River Stour. It is also known as 'Spettisbury Rings'. The hillfort survives as a roughly oval enclosed internal area of approximately 2ha defined by a single rampart bank with largely-buried outer ditch. The entrance is to the north west and appears to have been protected by an overlapping outer rampart. The rampart survives differentially, standing up to 4.5m high above the interior at its greatest. The ditch has maximum measurements of 13m wide and 2m deep. The hillfort has been cut by a railway cutting on the north eastern side and during construction work in 1857 a mass grave of at least 80 skeletons were found in the fill of the ditch, with a further 40 found in the following year although the exact location of this second group is not known. Finds with the skeletons included spear heads, an iron sword, a torque, a cauldron, brooches and finger rings, bone needles, pottery and a comb. At least two skeletons showed evidence for a violent death. It is speculated that they were victims of the advancing Roman army and this grave parallels the 'war cemetery' at Maiden Castle.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-209638

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes, generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth - fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few examples. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Slight univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally. Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh Marches, central and southern England. As a rare form of hillfort they are important for understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities. Despite past cultivation, the slight univallate hillfort called Crawford Castle survives comparatively well and having an associated 'war grave' is an extremely rare feature. It will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, longevity, trade, agricultural practices, social organisation, territorial significance, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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