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Large univallate hillfort at Felday

A Scheduled Monument in Shere, Surrey

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.1912 / 51°11'28"N

Longitude: -0.4154 / 0°24'55"W

OS Eastings: 510828.389348

OS Northings: 144744.902962

OS Grid: TQ108447

Mapcode National: GBR GFN.9SG

Mapcode Global: VHFVX.RB75

Entry Name: Large univallate hillfort at Felday

Scheduled Date: 5 July 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007984

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23014

County: Surrey

Civil Parish: Shere

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Holmbury St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Guildford

Details

The monument includes a large univallate hillfort of Iron Age date, situated
on a north east facing spur of sandstone with views to the North Downs and
across the Weald to the South Downs.
The enclosure is defined to the west by a bank and external ditch which is C-
shaped in plan and cuts off an area of the hilltop of approximately 7ha. On
the north, west and south the defences comprise an inner bank 12m wide and up
to 1m high, a ditch 5m wide and 0.7m deep and, in the south, traces of an
outer counterscarp bank up to 8m wide and 0.3m high. To the east the natural
slope is steep, but there is evidence of additional scarping. This survives
as a slight terrace, in places visible up to 7m wide, which slopes from 1.7m
to 2.2m below the top edge of the natural incline.
Situated in the south western part of the enclosure are the remains of a
World War I prisoner of war camp. It was a civilian internment camp, where the
prisoners were employed for cutting timber, and covers an area of c.1ha. It
includes post holes and beam slots now covered by vegetation although the
concrete foundations of a kitchen block, with floor and drains, are still
visible in the north eastern corner of the camp.
The monument was first surveyed in 1984 and small trenches excavated across
the bank and ditch in the south and north west during 1985 and 1986. These
demonstrated a V-shaped rock-cut ditch with a rampart consisting of dumped
rubble. A small number of worked flint artefacts were found, representing
earlier occupation of the site, as well as sherds of Iron Age pottery from the
first half of the first century A.D. These were recovered from the middle
silts of the ditch, suggesting that the enclosure had at this point already
fallen out of use.
Excluded from the scheduling are the metalled surface of the fire break and
the drainage ditch along its eastern edge, although the ground beneath these
features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and
surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions.
They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used
between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for
earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the
ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on
such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with
display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of
redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen.
The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of
slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may
survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and
between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or
two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned
ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the
passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by
outworks. 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. Large
univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded
nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the
chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is
marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further
examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north.
Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in
their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual
components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their
importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron
Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed
to be of national importance.

The large univallate hillfort at Felday survives comparatively well with only
slight disturbance to the interior caused by tree growth. Partial excavation
has demonstrated that the site contains archaeological remains and
environmental evidence relating to the monument and the surrounding landscape.
The site is one of several hillforts surviving in the local area and is
unusual in having visible surviving remains of a World War I prisoner of
war camp.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Field, D, 'Surrey Archaeological Collections' in Felday, Holmbury St Mary: An Earthwork Enclosure of the 1st C AD, (1989)
Field, D, 'Surrey Archaeological Collections' in Felday, Holmbury St Mary: An Earthwork Enclosure of the 1st C AD, (1989), 99-116

Source: Historic England

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