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Raddon Hill: a Neolithic causewayed enclosure and later hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Shobrooke, Devon

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Latitude: 50.817 / 50°49'1"N

Longitude: -3.5833 / 3°34'59"W

OS Eastings: 288558.745695

OS Northings: 103138.465338

OS Grid: SS885031

Mapcode National: GBR LD.XS1P

Mapcode Global: FRA 36CY.5SH

Entry Name: Raddon Hill: a Neolithic causewayed enclosure and later hillfort

Scheduled Date: 23 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016259

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24854

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Shobrooke

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Stockleigh Pomeroy St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes the buried remains of a causewayed enclosure of the
Neolithic period which are partly overlain by those of a later prehistoric
hillfort and associated field system. It is situated some 8km NNW of Exeter,
on a hillcrest towards the western end of the Raddon Hills that overlook an
area of lower ground between the rivers Exe and Creedy to the south.
The monument was first identified from aerial photographs taken in the
summer of 1984 in which it appeared as a number of curvilinear cropmarks.
After fieldwork in 1993 these were interpreted as the remains of a hillfort.
Limited archaeological excavation in 1994, accompanied by geophysical and
contour surveys over a wider area, provided more detailed information of the
nature and extent of the buried features. The surface remains of the monument
show as a low earthwork, visible as a break in the hillslope on the west and
south sides of the alignment of the outer cropmark. In the fields on the south
side of the monument the lower part of the break in the hillslope is also
marked by scatters of worked flint in the soil.
The causewayed enclosure is roughly oval in plan, about 210m east-west by
125m north-south, enclosing an area of approximately 1.9ha of the hilltop
defined by a ditch which is divided into unequal sections by causeways. Within
this enclosure there is another enclosure, of similar form, about 115m east-
west by 70m north-south, enclosing an area of approximately 0.6ha. The inner
enclosure is eccentric to the outer enclosure, and similarly encircles the
hilltop. The excavation revealed the ditches of the outer enclosure to be
typically flat-bottomed, 4m wide and 0.8m deep on the east side of the
enclosure, and 3m wide and 0.7m deep on the west side. The remains of an
internal bank were recorded on the east side where it survived to a width of
13m and height of 0.4m. The ditches of the inner enclosure were also flat-
bottomed, 2.4m wide and 0.7m deep on the east side, and 2.6m wide and 0.8m
deep on the west side. Within the enclosures a number of features were
excavated which consisted mainly of pits and postholes. The artefacts
recovered were mainly Neolithic flint tools, including leaf-shaped arrowheads
and scrapers, together with evidence of flint working in the form of flint
cores and hammerstones. A polished stone axehead was also found. There were
some pottery fragments, the sherds being similar to those found at the
causewayed enclosure beneath Hembury hillfort, near Honiton.
The later prehistoric hillfort which succeeded the causewayed enclosure is
irregular in plan being about 155m east-west by 100m north-south, enclosing an
area of approximately 1ha within a ditch. It is located on the western side of
the hillcrest, extending down the hillslope, and overlying the western parts
of the areas enclosed by both the inner and outer ditches of the causewayed
enclosure. The defensive ditch had a `V' shaped profile, 2m wide and 0.9m
deep. Originally an earth rampart stood on the inner side of the circuit
of the ditch and within the excavated area the position of the rampart was
defined by the foundation trench for the wooden palisade, 0.5m wide and 0.3m
deep, that revetted the face of the rampart. No entrances into the enclosure
have been clearly identified, although an entrance is thought to exist on the
western side. Within the hillfort a number of features were identified by
excavation including pits and postholes. The artefacts recovered included
pottery fragments that are typical of the period from the Bronze Age to Early
Iron Age (2000 - 500 BC). A large amount of metal working residue was
recovered at the western end of the hillfort.
Within the area where the causewayed enclosure and the hillfort overlap,
features have been identified which may be associated with either of them.
These include a discontinuous circle of stakeholes of about 3m diameter which
may be part of a dwelling; two elongated pits containing some burnt bone and
charcoal which may be graves; and a substantial vertical shaft, 5.9m in
diameter and excavated to a depth of 2.2m, which appears to have been the
upper part of a well.
To the north east of the causewayed enclosure are the remains of part of a
prehistoric field system identified by geophysical survey. They include
buried field boundaries which radiate out from the outer ditch of the
causewayed enclosure, with smaller divisions at right angles to the radiating
lines. Part excavation showed that the field boundaries take the form of
ditches of `U' shaped profile, about 0.5m wide and 0.5m deep.
Situated near the centre of the causewayed enclosure is an underground
monitoring post of the Royal Observer Corps. The post, now decommissioned, was
Station 20 of the ROC Exeter 10 Group, Stockleigh Pomeroy. It survives in good
condition and is included in the scheduling.
Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences and road surfaces, although
the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Between 50 and 70 causewayed enclosures are recorded nationally, mainly in
southern and eastern England. They were constructed over a period of some 500
years during the middle part of the Neolithic period (c.3000-2400 BC) but also
continued in use into later periods. They vary considerably in size (from 2 to
70 acres) and were apparently used for a variety of functions, including
settlement, defence, and ceremonial and funerary purposes. However, all
comprise a roughly circular to ovoid area bounded by one or more concentric
rings of banks and ditches. The ditches, from which the monument class derives
its name, were formed of a series of elongated pits punctuated by unexcavated
causeways. Causewayed enclosures are amongst the earliest field monuments to
survive as recognisable features in the modern landscape and are one of the
few known Neolithic monument types. Due to their rarity, their wide diversity
of plan, and their considerable age, all causewayed enclosures are considered
to be nationally important.

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 (eigth -
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 on 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.
Causewayed enclosures are rare in the south west of England. At Raddon Hill
the causewayed enclosure is partly overlain by a slight univallate hillfort,
and the full extent of both monuments, together with sections of an associated
field system, has been plotted from aerial photographs and geophysical
surveys. Although the upstanding earthworks have been modified by cultivation
over a long period, limited archaeological excavation has shown that buried
features remain intact, including artefacts and environmental evidence
relating to the construction and use of the monument. The close association of
these two very different forms of enclosure, together with a field system,
preserves valuable archaeological evidence for the development of prehistoric
communities over a period of at least 2500 years.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Knight, M, Gent, T, 'Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report' in Excavation And Survey Of A Multi-Period Enclosure At Raddon Hill, (1994)
Knight, M, Gent, T, 'Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report' in Excavation And Survey Of A Multi-Period Enclosure At Raddon Hill, (1994)
DAP/AM6, Devon County Council SMR, (1984)
Devon County Council SMR, (1984)

Source: Historic England

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