Ancient Monuments

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Berry Ring hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Bradley, Staffordshire

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Latitude: 52.7879 / 52°47'16"N

Longitude: -2.1684 / 2°10'6"W

OS Eastings: 388736.040808

OS Northings: 321165.321418

OS Grid: SJ887211

Mapcode National: GBR 171.BKL

Mapcode Global: WHBDZ.N6M1

Entry Name: Berry Ring hillfort

Scheduled Date: 17 March 1926

Last Amended: 20 July 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013163

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21588

County: Staffordshire

Civil Parish: Bradley

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Bradeley St Mary and All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument occupies the northern end of a elevated spur of land on the
northern outskirts of the village of Billington, and includes the earthwork
and buried remains of a univallate Iron Age hillfort.
The hillfort has an oval plan governed largely by the outline of the ridge
upon which it is located. The defensive earthworks include an inner rampart
and a steep-sided ditch, beyond which is intermittent evidence for a
counterscarp bank. Slight traces of the inner rampart are visible, averaging
0.2m high, except for a 43m section in the south east corner of the site where
it is 1.5m high. A low bank may be traced along the inner lip of the western
ditch, particularly in the north western part of the site, and this is thought
to represent the remains of the inner rampart here. The ditch measures up to
18m wide and is between 4m and 4.7m deep. The counterscarp bank is visible
along the western, northern and southern sides of the hillfort. Its best
preserved section, in the north western part of the site, is up to 14m wide
and 1m high. The central sector of the western counterscarp bank has been
partly levelled by Berry Ring Cottage and its garden. There is no surface
evidence for a counterscarp bank along the eastern side of the hillfort and
the steepness of the natural topography here is thought to have formed a
sufficient defensive feature beyond the ditch.
Access into the interior of the hillfort is by means of causeways across the
central part of the eastern defences and in the north eastern corner of the
site. Both of these breaches have been created by farm tracks and are
considered to be modern. The original entrance to the interior is thought to
lie at the neck of the spur, through the southern defences. Here, the inner
rampart and the ditch have been partly modified by marl digging and sand and
gravel extraction. In the south west corner of the hillfort a low bank running
northwards into the interior of the site and a number of slight hollows are
visible and are thought to represent the remains of further quarrying and
extraction activities.
The earthwork defences enclose a slightly undulating central area of
approximately 3ha with a spring-fed pond in the north eastern corner. No
internal earthworks associated with the hillfort's occupation are visible, but
the buried remains of structures will survive beneath the ground surface. A
number of finds have been recovered from the interior and include Iron Age
pottery, flints, an iron ring and fragments of medieval pottery.
The two electricity poles and their support cables, the beehives, water trough
and all fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath these features is included.

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.

Berry Ring hillfort survives well and represents a good example of this class
of monument. Buried features and artefactual evidence associated with the
occupation of the hillfort will survive within the interior. The spread inner
ramparts will have protected those sections of the interior they overlie,
whilst the defensive ditch will retain environmental evidence relating to the
economy of the site's inhabitants and the landscape in which they lived.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Lynam, C, The Victoria History of the County of Staffordshire, (1908), 336
Plot, R, The Natural History of Staffordshire, (1686), 416
RCHME, SJ82SE1, Survey Report, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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