Ancient Monuments

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Plainsfield Camp slight univallate hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Over Stowey, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1193 / 51°7'9"N

Longitude: -3.1668 / 3°10'0"W

OS Eastings: 318429.719292

OS Northings: 136207.748022

OS Grid: ST184362

Mapcode National: GBR LY.9PKG

Mapcode Global: VH6H5.2457

Entry Name: Plainsfield Camp slight univallate hillfort

Scheduled Date: 19 January 1962

Last Amended: 12 April 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007669

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24004

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Over Stowey

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a slight univallate hillfort situated on the lower
slopes of a spur on the eastern edge of the Quantock Hills.
The fort is rectilinear with rounded corners, and encloses c.1ha of land
inside a rampart and outer ditch. The earthworks are most pronounced across
the top of the fort, rising up to 1.5m with a ditch 1m deep, and are shallower
along the sides, as low as 0.4m, making use of the natural slope to give a
steep external face up to 2m high. Inside the ramparts in places are shallow
quarry ditches and scoops. The entrance to the fort is downhill to the east,
with a causeway over the ditch and slightly out-turned banks defining a narrow
way up into the fort. A second narrow gap over the ramparts at the northern
tip is probably not original. On the north-west and much of the north-eastern
side, forestry tracks have damaged the ditch, though a stretch survives north
of the entrance and this has a small counterscarp bank, 0.7m high.
The interior of the fort is very uneven due to former forestry plantation, but
a short linear mound running up/downhill near the centre, ditched into the
slope around the top, may be a medieval or post medieval pillow mound. Running
from either end of this, and also across the lower end of the fort, are broad
and shallow scarps, which seem likely to be natural. Slight field banks were
at one time noted near the fort, but the monument is now enclosed by conifer
The monument is called Cockercombe Castle on Forestry Commission
interpretation boards.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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 between 150 and 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 include square or rectangular buildings supported
by four to six postholes and interpreted as raised granaries, timber or stone
round houses, large storage pits and hearths as well as scattered postholes,
stakeholes and gullies. 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. In view of the
rarity of slight univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding
the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which
survive comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further
archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Plainsfield Camp survives well as an upstanding earthwork, and will contain
archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and
the landscape in which it was constructed.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Burrow, I, Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in Somerset, (1981), 243-4

Source: Historic England

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