Ancient Monuments

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Hillfort, two bowl barrows, medieval strip lynchets and a cross dyke on Cley Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Corsley, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.2028 / 51°12'10"N

Longitude: -2.2323 / 2°13'56"W

OS Eastings: 383862.411947

OS Northings: 144871.527298

OS Grid: ST838448

Mapcode National: GBR 1V4.DFX

Mapcode Global: VH97N.8167

Entry Name: Hillfort, two bowl barrows, medieval strip lynchets and a cross dyke on Cley Hill

Scheduled Date: 3 March 1927

Last Amended: 11 February 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017296

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31693

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Corsley

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Corsley and Chadmanslade St Margaret of Antioch

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a large univallate hillfort, two bowl barrows, two
flights of medieval strip lynchets and a cross dyke situated on Cley Hill, a
steep sided Middle and Upper Chalk outlier of Salisbury Plain rising sharply
from low lying clay land to the west of Warminster.
The hillfort defences comprise a steep scarp up to 7m high surrounded by a
flat berm up to 4m wide, enclosing an area of 7ha on the top of the hill. To
the east and north east traces of an outer bank up to 3m high survive at the
edge of the berm. Crossing the enclosed area, a scarp up to 1.7m high on a
false crest of the hill, runs from north east to south west and may represent
an earlier defence or a division within the hillfort. To the east there is a
break in the ramparts where a natural bowl cut into this side of the hill
provides a steep gradient on which defences were not necessary. To the south
west a large post-medieval quarry has removed one corner of the hill,
including most of the defences on this side, although some traces of the berm
are still visible at the quarry base.
At the summit of the hill is a large flat-topped bowl barrow. The mound of the
barrow is 4m high and 28m in diameter, and is surrounded by a ditch from which
material was quarried during its construction. This has become partially
buried, but is visible to the north and south where it is 6m wide and 0.3m
deep. The barrow was partially excavated by Sir Richard Colt Hoare and William
Cunnington in the early 19th century, who found traces of wheat. Another bowl
barrow 50m to the SSE comprises a mound 1.5m high and 22m in diameter
surrounded by a quarry ditch 3m wide and 0.1m deep. This barrow was also
partially excavated by Hoare and Cunnington who found an interment of burnt
bone. The southern edge of the mound is crossed by a linear feature running
from south west to north east, interpreted as a cross dyke. It comprises a
bank 0.3m high and 2.2m wide flanked to the north by a ditch 0.1m deep and
1.1m wide. The cross dyke runs 170m from the edge of the quarry to the steep
side of the hill to the east.
Below the hillfort on the south and west sides are medieval strip lynchets,
terraces built in order to cultivate on the slope, which rise up the gentle
incline at the base of the hill. The steep risers, or scarps, stand up to 4m
high while the flatter treads, which were cultivated, are up to 7m wide.
All fence posts and cattle troughs are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and
surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions.
They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used
between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for
earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the
ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on
such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with
display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of
redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen.
The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of
slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may
survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and
between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or
two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned
ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the
passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by
outworks. 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. Large
univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded
nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the
chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is
marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further
examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north.
Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in
their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual
components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their
importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron
Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed
to be of national importance.

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments
dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most
examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as
earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple
Strip lynchets provide distinctive indications of medieval cultivation. They
occur widely in southern and south eastern England, and are prominent features
on the Wessex chalkland.
Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km
long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or
more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges
and spurs. The strip lynchets and cross dyke represent land division and
farming practices in the later prehistoric and medieval periods.
Despite some quarrying, Cley Hill Camp remains a well preserved hillfort in an
impressive location on an isolated chalk outlier.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 51
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 51
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 51

Source: Historic England

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