Ancient Monuments

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Torberry hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Harting, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.977 / 50°58'37"N

Longitude: -0.8907 / 0°53'26"W

OS Eastings: 477973.929019

OS Northings: 120318.132541

OS Grid: SU779203

Mapcode National: GBR CCK.PM4

Mapcode Global: FRA 960J.JST

Entry Name: Torberry hillfort

Scheduled Date: 17 October 1978

Last Amended: 8 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015966

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29294

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Harting

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Harting St Mary and St Gabriel

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes a slight univallate hillfort and a later postmill
constructed on a chalk spur which projects to the north from a ridge of the
Sussex Downs. The roughly east-west aligned, pear-shaped hillfort encloses an
area of 2.8ha. Subsequent ploughing during the early post-medieval period has
caused some disturbance to the monument, and the hillfort defences now survive
as a low bank or scarp surrounded by a mainly infilled ditch. Part excavation
of the monument during 1948 and between 1956-58 discovered that the hilltop
defences underwent several phases of reconstruction and modification from the
Early Iron Age (sixth century BC), and remained in use until c.100 BC. During
the fifth-third centuries BC the defences defined a promontory fort, with a
now infilled, north-south aligned ditch and timber-reinforced bank constructed
across the central part of the monument, protecting the western end of the
steeply-sided spur. During the third century BC, the ramparts were extended to
enclose the whole spur-top, and a new entrance was constructed through their
eastern side. This gateway was modified and elaborated during the second
century BC and finally took the form of an inturned, stone-walled corridor
leading to a massive timber gate. Evidence found during the investigations
indicated that the gateway was destroyed in c.100 BC.

The excavations also revealed a number of now infilled storage pits within the
interior of the hillfort. Analysis of pottery fragments found within them
suggest that these date to the Iron Age. The interior of the hillfort will
also contain further, below ground archaeological features relating to the
original occupation of the monument.

The later postmill was sited within the western sector of the earlier hillfort
during the post-medieval period. It is represented by a low, cross shaped
foundation mound, known locally as the Fairy Bed.

The modern fences which cross the monument are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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.

The slight univallate hillfort at Torberry survives comparatively well,
despite some disturbance by subsequent ploughing. Part excavation has shown
that it retains important archaeological remains and environmental evidence
relating to the original construction of the hilltop defences and their
subsequent development over at least six centuries. The use of the hilltop for
flour milling during the post-medieval period illustrates a then common,
everyday activity of which only a limited number of visible remains survive.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cunliffe, B, 'Council For British Archaeology Research Report' in Iron Age Sites in Central Southern England, , Vol. 16, (1976), 1-29

Source: Historic England

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