Ancient Monuments

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A small multivallate hillfort on Southend Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Cheddington, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.84 / 51°50'24"N

Longitude: -0.6666 / 0°39'59"W

OS Eastings: 491960.224222

OS Northings: 216552.734749

OS Grid: SP919165

Mapcode National: GBR F42.L8W

Mapcode Global: VHFRP.D0FR

Entry Name: A small multivallate hillfort on Southend Hill

Scheduled Date: 23 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017517

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29410

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Cheddington

Built-Up Area: Cheddington

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Cheddington with Mentmore

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes the buried remains of a small multivallate hillfort
located on Southend Hill, a pronounced chalk knoll rising from the Aylesbury
Vale some 4km to the north of the Chiltern escarpment.

The ramparts enclosing the fort have long since been reduced by ploughing, and
the site remained unknown until cropmarks (variations crop growth dependent on
moisture in buried features) were recorded from the air in 1973. The
cropmarks have been recorded on several occasions since, clearly demonstrating
the presence of a circular enclosure of approximately 5ha, defined by a pair
of concentric ditches which encircle the summit of the hill to the north of
the steep southern slope. The ditches measure about 5m in width and are set 15
to 20m apart. Concentrations of chalk and clunch rubble visible in the
ploughsoil to the north west and south east are thought to represent the
denuded remains of the accompanying banks, which would have been constructed
using natural bedrock from the ditches.

The aerial record shows faint traces of other buried features within the fort,
including small circular ditches which are thought to represent structures,
and curved ditches which may belong to an earlier phase of the defences.

Fragments of hand made coarseware pottery recovered from the ploughsoil within
the fort indicate that occupation may have begun in the Early to Middle Iron
Age (c.600-300 BC); fragments from later, wheel-thrown vessels suggest that
occupation either continued into, or was resumed in the Late Iron Age
(c.100 BC - AD 50).

The southern slopes of the hill were remodelled in the medieval or early
post-medieval period to form an elaborate series of cultivation terraces or
lynchets. The upper terrace is included in the scheduling, as it is thought to
have intruded on the southern part of the fort's ramparts.

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

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.

Although the small multivallate hillfort on Southend Hill has been ploughed,
the circuit of defences is clearly marked and the ditch, in particular, will
remain well preserved beneath layers of accumulated and dumped soil. Buried
features related to the period of occupation will also survive within the
interior, and these, together with the earlier fills of the surrounding ditch,
will contain artefactual evidence illustrating the date of the hillfort's
construction as well as the duration and character its use.

Southend Hill lies approximately 4km to the west of the more widely known
hillfort on Ivinghoe Beacon, which excavations have shown to have been
occupied from the 6th century BC. The proximity of the two sites, which are
intervisible, raises interesting questions about the relationship between them
(such as whether the larger and more elaborate hillfort at Southend Hill was
occupied at the same time or subsequently), and has significant implications
for our understanding of the development of settlement and society in the
later prehistoric period. In a wider context, the Southend Hill hillfort can
be seen as part of a series of hillforts, of various forms, which were
established along the Chiltern escarpment in the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age,
comparison between which will provide valuable insights into the development
of prehistoric society across the region.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Allcroft, A H, Earthworks of England, (1908), 39
Pevsner, N, John, H, The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire, (1964), 84
Farley, M, 'Records of Bucks' in Cheddington Hillfort, , Vol. 25, (1983), 179
1271: Cultivation terraces, Westend Hill, Cheddington, (1983)
Discussion with CAO and staff, Farley, M et al, (1997)
Notes on finds from MPP site visit, Farley, M, 4039 Southend Hill, (1997)
Oblique monochrome A2/26/21, Farley, M, Cheddington Hillfort, (1977)
Oblique monochrome A6/16/14, Farley, M, Cheddington Hillfort, (1982)
Oblique monochrome, St. Joseph, J K, Cheddington Hillfort, (1975)
Oblique monochrome, Wilson, DR, Cheddington Hillfort, (1973)
RCHME, Inventory of the Historic Monuments in Buckinghamshire, (1912)
Rectified AP plot (Bucks Museums), Allen, L, Cheddington Hillfort, (1979)
Sketch (copy with proposal & in SMR), Went, D, SM:29410 Small multivallate hillfort on Southend Hill, (1997)

Source: Historic England

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