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Malwood Castle hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Minstead, Hampshire

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Latitude: 50.908 / 50°54'28"N

Longitude: -1.6074 / 1°36'26"W

OS Eastings: 427701.608679

OS Northings: 112126.358247

OS Grid: SU277121

Mapcode National: GBR 64R.VW2

Mapcode Global: FRA 76JP.TWY

Entry Name: Malwood Castle hillfort

Scheduled Date: 22 January 1969

Last Amended: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016493

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32541

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: Minstead

Built-Up Area: Minstead

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Minstead All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Winchester


The monument includes a small multivallate hillfort of Iron Age date
prominently situated at the north eastern end of the Stoney Cross ridge, a
flat-topped ridge of plateau gravel which runs north east-south west alongside
the A31 dual carriageway. The hillfort defences enclose a roughly square area
of 1.5ha of relatively level ground. They are most impressive to the south
west, where they were constructed across the neck of the ridge. They survive
here as two large parallel banks, up to 12m wide and 2m high, separated by a
shallow ditch and flanked by a second, outer ditch up to 9m wide and 1m deep.
A possible original entrance on this side has now been widened and severely
damaged by the construction of a modern road into the hillfort. The remaining
defences are on a smaller scale. Natural springs rise to the north west and
south east where the steeply sloping and boggy sides of the ridge are enclosed
by a single bank standing up to 3.5m above a shallow outer ditch which has now
become almost completey infilled to form a narrow berm and outer scarp. Part
excavation during sewage works in 1972 indicated that the rampart on the north
west side had been revetted with timber posts along the front. To the north
east and east, the ridge-end defences are augmented by a low, parallel outer
bank which has been partly levelled by the construction of a modern road. In
addition to the western entrance, the ramparts have been breached by modern
roads and paths in three further places, and have been disturbed by later
garden landscaping on the south side and by the construction of a modern
septic tank on the north west side.
Buried remains associated with the original use of the monument, including
traces of round houses, compounds, granaries, pits, iron ore smelting hearths
and outbuildings can be expected to survive within the interior of the
hillfort, although this area has been disturbed by the later use of the
monument as the site of a 16th century Spanish Armada beacon, recorded in John
Norden's Map of Hampshire of 1595, and of a modern country house, Minstead
Court, constructed in 1884 and Listed Grade II. Some original ornamental
landscaping features associated with the house survive around the ramparts to
the south and south east, including partial brick revetting of the rampart, a
brick-framed vista to the south east and a garden path through the rampart at
the southern corner. Traces of further ornamental landscaping extend beyond
the ramparts to the south, outside the area of protection.
Later use of the monument is also indicated by a section of Roman road which
extends for approximately 110m in a north east-south west direction past the
north west corner of the hillfort. It survives as a slightly raised agger of
compacted gravel, 5m wide, flanked by shallow ditches, which extends from the
A31 dual carriageway into a flat based hollow way as it climbs onto the top of
the ridge. The road cannot be traced further along the ridge to the south
east but aligns with a section of raised agger situated 150m north of the A31
and with part of a Roman road from Otterbourne to the New Forest (Stoney
Cross) shown on 1969 Ordnance Survey antiquity maps.
The areas occupied by Minstead Court and the concrete sewage tank and steps
set into the north western rampart are totally excluded from the scheduling.
The block of garages and paved area situated to the south west of Minstead
Court, the modern fence which caps the rampart, all fences, gates, cattle
stops, and all modern features associated with the house and its gardens are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is

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

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.

The small multivallate hillfort at Malwood Castle survives comparatively well,
despite some disturbance by its later use as the site of a modern country
house. Part excavation has shown that it retains important archaeological
remains and environmental evidence relating to the original construction of
the monument and its later use. The use of the ridge as the route of a Roman
road and the later reported siting of an Armada beacon within the hillfort
illustrates the continued importance of Malwood Castle for Roman and
post-medieval communication networks.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Margary, I D, Roman Roads in Britain, (1955), 94-5
Sumner, H, The Ancient Earthworks of the New Forest, (1887), 26-9
'Hampshire Field Club New Forest Section Report' in Hampshire Field Club New Forest Section Report, , Vol. 13, (1973), 9-10
White, H T, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in The Beacon System in Hampshire, , Vol. 10, (1930), 252-278
Title: Map of Hampshire
Source Date: 1595

Source: Historic England

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