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Multiple enclosure hillfort on Coxall Knoll

A Scheduled Monument in Buckton and Coxall, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.3555 / 52°21'19"N

Longitude: -2.9322 / 2°55'55"W

OS Eastings: 336606.439653

OS Northings: 273453.920286

OS Grid: SO366734

Mapcode National: GBR B9.SLSY

Mapcode Global: VH76R.4264

Entry Name: Multiple enclosure hillfort on Coxall Knoll

Scheduled Date: 3 September 1935

Last Amended: 7 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014107

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27496

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Buckton and Coxall

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Bucknell

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a large multiple
enclosure hillfort on Coxall Knoll, situated on the summit of a natural
outcrop some 100m above the River Redlake to the north, and the Teme to the
south. The hillfort has three enclosures and is roughly oval in plan, with
maximum dimensions of 570m east to west, and 200m north to south. Its defences
are designed to take advantage of the naturally steep slopes of the knoll, and
consist of a series of artificially steepened scarps in the hillside, topped
with earthen banks following the contours of the hill. The main enclosure
occupies the summit of the knoll and forms the western half of the monument,
having maximum internal dimensions of 300m east to west and 120m north to
south, and enclosing an area of c.3ha. To the south its extent is defined by a
level terrace, c.5m wide, created by gradual infilling of a ditch. Beyond this
defence is provided by the naturally steep hillslope. To the north is a series
of three artificially steepened slopes with intermediate ditches. The scarps
are topped with earthen banks up to 1m high, and rise up between 8m-12m above
the ditches below. These ditches are also infilled and are now represented by
level terraces c.5m wide. The middle scarp maintains the imposing dimensions
of its southern counterpart, and continues to the south east where it divides
the western from the two eastern enclosures. It is supported along this
stretch by a substantial ditch and bank, the bottom of the ditch being c.8m
below the top of the bank, and both having a maximum width of 5m-10m. The line
of both scarp and bank is broken half way along, allowing access between the
two enclosures. Within the western enclosure the ground rises steeply to form
a ridge, the sides of which have been shown to be terraced although this
feature is greatly obscured by vegetation. The top of the ridge provides the
only area of level ground on which outcrops of bedrock can be seen. There is a
well approximately half way along the northern edge of the enclosure.
The eastern enclosure is roughly triangular in form, with maximum dimensions
of 200m north west to south east, and 100m transversely. Its area of c.1.8ha.
is generally flat, and is enclosed by a single earthen bank up to 10m high and
15m wide. Material for the construction of this bank will have been quarried
from the almost continuous internal ditch, which is damp in places and
measures c.7m wide x 1.5m deep. Along the southern edge of the enclosure an
infilled ditch separates the bank from the artificially steepened scarp
beyond. To the north the earthen bank forms the southern edge of the northern
enclosure, and for much of its length has a ditch on its northern side
measuring 7m wide by 1.5m deep. A break in these features gives access to the
northern enclosure, which has an area of c.0.7ha and is defined by an earthen
bank c.5m high, with traces of a second bank visible in places to the north.
Approximately half way along the northern edge of this enclosure is a
recumbent stone, 1.5m x 1.5m x 0.5m deep. Known as the Frog Stone because of
its resemblance to a crouching frog, the stone shows signs of glacial erosion
on its upper surface. It `faces' north east over the Clun valley, and may have
been positioned intentionally by the hillfort builders, or perhaps by earlier
inhabitants of the area. Some 10m outside the most northerly bank, a stretch
of bank and ditch extends north west for approximately 100m, and may represent
the original intended alignment of the rampart which was abandoned before
completion. The ditch is c.3.5m wide and 0.8m deep, with a slight bank
upslope, c.0.8m high x 2m wide. At its eastern end the ditch is represented
by two hollows, up to 5m wide and 1.2m deep, divided from the remainder by a
causeway. Both the Frog Stone and these outlying earthworks are included in
the scheduling.
The hillfort has four entrances, the main one created at the west end by the
inturning of the earthen banks which define the southern and two of the
northerly scarps. This entrance is protected by a spur extending westwards off
the outermost northern rampart, and by an outwork of a bank with flanking
ditches stretching transversely across the opening for c.45m. The southern
entrance is formed at the point where the banks turn inwards at the junction
of the east and west enclosures, creating an opening into both areas. To the
north, a break in the bank at the western limit of the northern enclosure
appears to lead west to a break through the central scarp and bank, thence
east again into the eastern enclosure. Further east, a break in the bank and
ditch may be related to the outlying earthworks to the north; it is aligned
with the break in that feature, a characteristic emphasised now by a track
which runs through both gaps. At the junction of the east and north enclosures
at the eastern end of the monument there may be a fifth entrance, represented
by what appears to be a break in the external bank, which survives
particularly well in this area.
Coxall Knoll dominates an area which continued to be a focus of activity into
the Roman and medieval periods. It faces the hillfort of Brandon Camp, some
3km ESE across the River Teme, the area between containing the buried remains
of three Roman camps; the hillfort and the camps are the subject of separate
schedulings. All fences and gates within the monument are excluded from the
scheduling, but the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 10 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Multiple enclosure forts comprise an inner and one or more outer enclosed
areas, together measuring up to c.10ha, and defined by sub-circular or sub-
rectangular earthworks spaced at intervals which exceed 15m; the inner
enclosure is usually entirely surrounded by a bank and ditch. The forts date
mainly to the Late Iron Age (350 BC-c.AD 50) and in England usually occur in
the south west. Most are sited on hillslopes overlooked by higher ground near
a water supply, and many were apparently used for periods of up to 250 years.
The outer enclosures of the forts are usually interpreted as areas set aside
for the containment of livestock, whilst the inner enclosures are generally
thought to have been the focus of occupation.
The earthworks usually include a bank with an outer V-shaped ditch 1m-3m deep.
Entrances are generally single gaps through each line of defence, often
aligned to create a passage from the outer to the inner enclosure, although
there are a few examples where entrances through successive earthworks are not
in alignment. Occasionally the interval between the gaps is marked by inturned
ramparts or low banks and ditches, while the outer entrance may be screened by
a short length of earthwork. Excavations within the inner enclosures have
revealed a range of buildings and structures, including circular structures,
hearths, ovens and cobbled surfaces as well as occasional small pits and large
depressions which may have functioned as watering holes.
Multiple enclosure forts are relatively rare with only around 75 examples
recorded in England, mostly in Devon and Cornwall. Outside these counties
their distribution becomes increasingly scattered and the form and
construction methods more varied. They are important for the study of
settlement and stock management in the later prehistoric period, and most
well-preserved examples will be identified as being of national importance.

Coxall Knoll is a well preserved example of a class of monument which is rare
in this part of the country. Its extent and design are easily discernible
despite its well-established tree cover. The western entrance is a good
example of an inturned entrance which has suffered no apparent disturbance.
The earthen banks will retain evidence of their method of construction which
may include post holes for revetments or internal structures built in
conjuction with the enhancement of the natural slopes. The interior of the
hillfort will contain evidence for occupation and other activities, including
post holes for buildings, hearths, and storage or rubbish pits. Different
activities may characterise each of the enclosures, and indications of
agricultural or industrial activities will contribute to our understanding of
the technology and economy of the Iron Age population. The ditch fills will
retain environmental evidence relating to these activities, and to the
landscape in which the hillfort was constructed, as will the buried land
surface sealed beneath the earthen banks. Organic remains will survive in the
waterlogged sections of ditch. The junctions between the scarps and banks
surrounding the different enclosures will contain information relating to
their development, which may involve more than one phase of construction. The
relationship of the outlying earthworks to the main body of the hillfort will
further enhance our understanding of this development. When viewed in
association with other hillforts in the region, Coxall Knoll contributes to
our knowledge of the demography and social organisation of the Iron Age in
western Britain. Although the monument is somewhat obscured from view by
trees, the Knoll itself is a highly visible landmark from both Shropshire to
the north and Herefordshire to the south. A footpath runs along its lower
slope to the north.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Lines, H H, 'Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society' in Titterstone Camp and Others, , Vol. 2 ser, 3, (1891), 22-35
RCHM, Herefordshire, RCHM, RCHM, Herefordshire, (1934)

Source: Historic England

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