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Castle Ring: a large univallate hillfort on Oak Hill, 600m south east of Crows Nest Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Worthen with Shelve, Shropshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.604 / 52°36'14"N

Longitude: -2.9288 / 2°55'43"W

OS Eastings: 337194.662072

OS Northings: 301094.41983

OS Grid: SJ371010

Mapcode National: GBR B9.91LT

Mapcode Global: WH8C3.ZTH2

Entry Name: Castle Ring: a large univallate hillfort on Oak Hill, 600m south east of Crows Nest Farm

Scheduled Date: 28 July 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012869

English Heritage Legacy ID: 19203

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Worthen with Shelve

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Hope

Church of England Diocese: Hereford

Details

The monument includes Castle Ring, a large univallate hillfort in a naturally
strong defensive position on the summit of Oak Hill, a steep sided spur at the
north end of Stiperstones. The enclosed area of the hillfort is roughly
triangular in plan with maximum internal dimensions of 280m NNE to SSW by 190m
transversely giving an internal area of approximately 3.8ha. The artificial
defences are designed to enhance the natural strength of the site. The natural
hillslopes fall precipitously on all sides except the south, the natural
approach along the ridge top. Here the earthworks are at their most elaborate
and include a strong cross-ridge rampart 8m wide and 3.5m high with an outer
ditch on the south side 5m wide and 1.2m deep set across the narrow neck of
the spur. The rampart is interrupted approximately midway along its length by
a slightly offset, inturned entrance 6m wide. Around the south east side of
the hillfort the already steep natural hillslope has been cut back slightly to
form a well defined scarp slope up to 4.8m high. This ends after 260m fading
out on the natural slopes around the north eastern tip of the spur. Here the
hillfort relies for defence solely on the precipitous nature of the hillslope.
Around the west and north west sides the natural hillslope has been cut back
to form a scarp slope, up to 4m high with an outer berm or silted ditch
averaging 3m wide. There is no visible evidence of habitation in the interior
of the hillfort, the surface of which follows the natural contours of the
hill, but the buried remains of such features will survive beneath the
surface.

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

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.

Castle Ring large univallate hillfort survives well and is a good example of
its class. The southern entrance of the hillfort has a fine simple inturned
entrance which remains apparently undisturbed. The rampart and ditch will
contain archaeological evidence concerning the method of construction and the
nature and period of occupation. The interior of the site, which appears
completely undisturbed, will contain evidence of habitation. Environmental
material relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed and
the economy of its inhabitants, will be preserved in the ditch fill and sealed
on the old land surface beneath the southern rampart. The hillfort is one of
several such monuments which occupy defensive positions in the south
Shropshire hills. When considered in relation to this group, Castle Ring
hillfort contributes important information relating to the settlement of this
area of upland during the Iron Age.

Source: Historic England

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