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Slight univallate hillfort south of End Way Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Asheldham, Essex

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Latitude: 51.6756 / 51°40'32"N

Longitude: 0.8518 / 0°51'6"E

OS Eastings: 597273.537056

OS Northings: 201278.82364

OS Grid: TL972012

Mapcode National: GBR RP9.S74

Mapcode Global: VHKH3.Q45S

Entry Name: Slight univallate hillfort south of End Way Farm

Scheduled Date: 2 August 1963

Last Amended: 16 January 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014142

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24887

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Asheldham

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex


The monument includes a slight univallate hillfort which lies roughly in the
centre of the Dengie peninsular, on a plateau rather than a hilltop. To the
south the land slopes away down to Asheldham Brook allowing the fort to be
seen from considerable distances to the south and south east.
The defences include a bank and external ditch, which are visible on the east
and south of the enclosure as upstanding earthworks. The bank stands
to a height of 0.7m in the eastern part of the defences while the ditch is
visible as a shallow depression. Partial excavation has shown that the ditch
survives as a buried feature up to 10m wide and 3.6m deep in places.
To the west the line of the defences follows a natural scarp in the landscape.
It is likely that along this side the scarp was artificially steepened and
heightened by the addition of a substantial bank along the top. To the north
the line of the bank and ditch are marked by the road which follows them
around the line of the enclosure. Within the interior further buried features
related to the occupation of the site are known to survive.
The first finds to be noted were discovered in 1893 when the Southminster
Waterworks were constructed. These included `a rough basketwork of large
sticks, on which had been laid a covering of clay with coating of gravel'. A
number of fragments of Iron Age pottery and worked flints were also recovered.
Archaeological monitoring of intermittent gravel digging within the interior
of the enclosure was undertaken in the 1920s and 1930s. This work noted
internal features and traces of the defensive ditch in the north west. Further
finds of Iron Age pottery were made in the 1940s, including a collection of
vessels with cremations.
In 1985 a contour survey and trial excavations were undertaken in order to
assess the state of survival and management needs of the monument. This
revealed a well preserved old land surface with traces of pre-hillfort
cultivation. Within the interior, pits and post holes were recorded, which
included the remains of a granary dating to the Middle Iron Age which had been
destroyed by fire.
Fences and fence posts are excluded from the monument 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

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.

Part excavation of the slight univallate hillfort at Asheldham indicates
that the unexcavated parts of the monument may survive well. Environmental
evidence from the site will add greatly to our understanding of later
prehistoric agricultural practices. Late prehistoric sites in Essex with
surviving upstanding earthwork remains are very rare and although this site
has been partly disturbed by gravel quarrying the majority of the external
defences survive in comparatively good condition.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bedwin, O, 'Essex Archaeology and History' in Asheldham Camp An Early Iron Age Hill Fort: The 1985 Excavations, , Vol. 22, (1991), 13-37

Source: Historic England

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