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Hillfort on Castle Hill 650m south east of Ford House

A Scheduled Monument in Wiveliscombe, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.0459 / 51°2'45"N

Longitude: -3.2898 / 3°17'23"W

OS Eastings: 309678.99812

OS Northings: 128179.923028

OS Grid: ST096281

Mapcode National: GBR LS.GGC1

Mapcode Global: FRA 460C.063

Entry Name: Hillfort on Castle Hill 650m south east of Ford House

Scheduled Date: 17 August 1976

Last Amended: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016498

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32170

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Wiveliscombe

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes the surviving portion of a prehistoric small
multivallate hillfort located on Castle Hill, at Wiveliscombe on the eastern
edge of Exmoor; a small area at the northern end of the hillfort has been
removed by quarring and is not included in the scheduling. The site is aligned
broadly from NNW to SSE and occupies the summit of an isolated flat-topped
hill, surrounded on all sides by steep slopes with almost vertical drops on
the north, north west and east sides. The hillfort, approximately 356m long
and 144m across, is oval in plan and an area of 4.1ha is enclosed by a bank of
varying dimensions throughout its circuit. On the west side the bank is an
average 2m wide, 2m high internally and dropping 10m externally from the top
of the bank. On the south side the inner face of the bank is up to 2.5m high
and the outer face 6m high. The profile of the bank on the north and east
sides has been blurred by the subsequent addition of a hedge bank, and the
original bank is visible as a low earthwork, 3m wide. The south side of
the hillfort is fortified by a flat-bottomed ditch 3m to 4m wide above which
is a steep outer rampart up to 11m high in places.
The original entrance into the hillfort is located on the south side and was
created by inturning banks forming a staggered passageway. Two other entrances
are located on the west side and are known to be modern.
There have been a number of finds from within the hillfort and in the outer
defences; these include Neolithic worked flint artefacts, human remains of
uncertain date found before 1836, and a hoard of 1139 Roman coins found in
The barn located within the hillfort on the south west side, the wooden gate
on the east side, together with all fence posts and stone troughs, are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is

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

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 on Castle Hill survives comparatively well
despite part of the north and eastern defences having being destroyed by
quarrying. The monument will provide archaeological information relating to
the monument, the lives of its inhabitants, their economy and the landscape in
which they lived.

Source: Historic England


43792, Somerset County Council,

Source: Historic England

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