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Slight univallate hillfort 80m east of Old Downton Cottage.

A Scheduled Monument in Downton, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.353 / 52°21'10"N

Longitude: -2.8397 / 2°50'23"W

OS Eastings: 342901.187169

OS Northings: 273098.88777

OS Grid: SO429730

Mapcode National: GBR BD.SZGS

Mapcode Global: VH76S.Q4L1

Entry Name: Slight univallate hillfort 80m east of Old Downton Cottage.

Scheduled Date: 25 June 1935

Last Amended: 10 March 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011019

English Heritage Legacy ID: 19177

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Downton

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Wigmore Abbey

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes a slight univallate hillfort situated on the summit of a
small promontory immediately above and west of the River Teme. The enclosure
is roughly triangular in plan with overall dimensions of 70m north west to
south east by 64m south west to north east. The defences are designed to make
maximum use of the natural defensive strength of the position. Along the
south east side of the promontory the ground slopes steeply towards a rock
cliff which drops vertically to the river, making any artificial defences
unnecessary around this side of the site. An overgrown terrace runs along the
edge of the cliff from the sunken road to the west. It is truncated by quarry
activity 110m from the road, ending on the vertical cliff face. It does not
appear to be part of the hillfort defences and is believed to be the remains
of a trackway linking the road in the west and a fording place at Bow Bridge.
The length of terrace adjacent to the hillfort is included in the scheduling
to preserve the stratigraphic relationship between the two.

Around the west side of the enclosure, where it is overlooked by the rising
ground to the west, the man-made defences are at their most massive. They
include a substantial rampart of earth and stone rubble construction 12m wide,
averaging 2m high on its internal face and 3.5m high on its outer face. A
substantial outer ditch 10m wide and between 1m and 2m deep flanks the west
side of the rampart. Around the north east side, where the natural slope of
the hill falls to the north east, the rampart becomes less massive, reducing
to between 7m and 10m wide and 1m high on its internal face, 2m on its outer.
The outer ditch similarly fades around this side becoming a faint berm 6m
wide. There is a simple entrance 4m wide at the northern corner of the
enclosure. Both rampart and ditch end 25m from the cliff edge at the east
corner of the site.

The area of the hill to the immediate north east of the enclosure, where the
hillslope falls with increasing steepness towards the river valley, was
previously included within the scheduling. Reappraisal of this hillside
indicates that, although the nature of the slope is significant to the
positioning of the enclosure, the area contains no known archaeological
features associated with the enclosure.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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. 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.

The slight univallate hillfort 80m east of Old Downton Cottage survives well
and is a good example of its class. The defences will contain valuable
archaeological evidence concerning the method of construction and period of
occupation. The interior of the hillfort appears to be undisturbed and will
retain evidence of occupation. Environmental material relating to the
landscape in which the monument was constructed and to the economy of the
inhabitants of the hillfort will be preserved in the ditch fill and sealed
beneath the rampart. Such monuments when considered either in isolation or in
association with other monuments in the area of a similar period contribute
valuable information relating to the settlement pattern of the countryside
during the Iron Age.

Source: Historic England

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