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Pyon Wood Camp, a small multivallate hillfort 700m WSW of Yatton

A Scheduled Monument in Aymestrey, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.2928 / 52°17'33"N

Longitude: -2.8465 / 2°50'47"W

OS Eastings: 342360.741843

OS Northings: 266406.469547

OS Grid: SO423664

Mapcode National: GBR BD.XPWZ

Mapcode Global: VH76Z.MM0Q

Entry Name: Pyon Wood Camp, a small multivallate hillfort 700m WSW of Yatton

Scheduled Date: 23 August 1935

Last Amended: 2 July 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014541

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27508

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Aymestrey

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Aymestrey with Leinthall Earles

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a small multivallate
hillfort, situated on a natural knoll overlooking the River Lugg to the south
and the Vale of Wigmore to the north. The hillfort is sub-rectangular in form,
and its defences take advantage of the naturally steep sides of the knoll. The
hillslope has been artificially steepened to form two scarp slopes with a
medial ditch, both scarps being further enhanced by earthen banks following
the contours of the hillside. The inner scarp encloses an area of roughly
1.5ha and runs approximately 20m below the summit of the hill. It rises on
average 5m above the bottom of the ditch, and in some places up to 8m. The
earthen bank along its crest survives for most of its circuit with maximum
dimensions of c.1.5m x 2.5m wide. Material for the construction of this bank
will have been quarried from the ditch, which has become infilled for much of
its length. The ditch is most distinct along the western side of the hillfort,
where it survives to a depth of c.1.5m and is 6m wide. The outer defences are
similarly formed by artificial enhancement of the hillslope, although the
earthen bank along this scarp is discontinuous. It survives to a height of
c.2m around the western and southern sides of the monument where the more
gradual slope of the hillside provides less natural defence. Elsewhere it has
been reduced to less than 0.5m high and in places it is no longer visible
above ground.

In the north east corner of the hillfort a break in the inner scarp forms an
entrance, defended by the inturning of the earthen banks to either side. A
large number of stones are visible in the short passage formed by this
inturning, many lying flat against the banks, and these represent the remains
of a retaining wall strengthening this vulnerable point. There are two further
entrances, one in the north west corner, and one halfway along the western
side of the monument, where the banks have been breached and the ditch
apparently infilled with the spoil. The banks do not change alignment at
either of these features, and they were probably created in modern times to
provide additional access to the interior of the hillfort.

Pyon Wood Camp is situated in an imposing position and its Iron Age occupants
would have commanded impressive views in all directions, including eastwards
towards the large hillfort at Croft Ambrey, some 2km away (the subject of a
separate scheduling). Both monuments would have been visible to the builders
of the Roman road which passes north-south between them, close to the foot of
Pyon Wood itself. The dense woodland cover now obscures views of the monument
from a distance, however it is crossed by a number of paths.
The stretch of fence on the outer scarp to the south west is excluded from the
scheduling, but the ground beneath it 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

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are
defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set
earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the
interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or
more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been
constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first
century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements
of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest
that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with
display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a
rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks
and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by
one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or
inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists
of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures
interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety
of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of
small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a
similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples
recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west
with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the
rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding
the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period,
all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of
national importance.

Pyon Wood Camp is a well preserved example of this class of monument, and its
extent and design are easily discernible despite the well established tree
cover. The hillfort has a good example of an inturned entrance which has
suffered little disturbance. The earthen banks will retain evidence for their
method of construction, which may include post holes for palisades or
revetments built in conjunction 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, which 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.

When viewed in association with other hillforts in the region, Pyon Wood Camp
contributes to our knowledge of the demography and social organisation of the
Iron Age in western Britain. Although the hillfort is obscured from view by
trees, Pyon Wood itself is a highly visible landmark, and the monument is
crossed by a number of footpaths.

Source: Historic England

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