Ancient Monuments

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Stockland Great Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Stockland, Devon

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Latitude: 50.8174 / 50°49'2"N

Longitude: -3.1002 / 3°6'0"W

OS Eastings: 322592.326897

OS Northings: 102556.966101

OS Grid: ST225025

Mapcode National: GBR M1.XVST

Mapcode Global: FRA 46DY.219

Entry Name: Stockland Great Castle

Scheduled Date: 26 June 1924

Last Amended: 24 July 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017952

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29646

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Stockland

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Stockland St Michael and All Angels

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes a prehistoric large univallate hillfort, known as
Stockland Great Castle, situated on an east facing slope just below the crest
of the long Greensand ridge which lies between the Umborne Brook and the River
Yarty. The hillfort has an irregularly shaped interior defended by a single
rampart and ditch. A modern road bisects the body of the monument east-west
with the greater part of the visible remains standing north of the road.
The irregular interior of the hillfort is a maximum 230m east-west by a
270m north-south but the curvature of the defences reduce the available
internal area to about 4ha. The site has no natural defences and as a
consequence the rampart and ditch of the monument are of massive construction.
The rampart survives, north of the modern road, as an earthen/stone bank, with
a near vertical inner face 3m high revetted in places by chert stone; this
revetting may be of somewhat later date. The rampart is a maximum of 17m wide
and chert has also been used to produce a 5m wide stone capping for the flat
top along part of its western and northern course. The sloping outer face of
the rampart is fronted by a broad ditch some 7m wide and at least 2m deep, the
inner face of the ditch conjoining with the outer slope of the rampart to
produce a scarp with a combined depth in excess of 6m on the north eastern
side of the monument. The original profile of the ditch at its base cannot be
seen as it is partially infilled with loose chert, rubble, and soil. The ditch
terminates just north of the road on its eastern side at a point where the
rampart appears to do likewise and this may indicate the location of the
hillfort's original entrance. This is supported by the fact that the rampart
takes a slightly different alignment south of the road suggesting an inturned
gate at the point where the modern road now runs through. A further gap in the
rampart exists on the north western side, but the ditch in front of this gap
is infilled by an earth/flint causeway, the material for which almost
certainly derives from the overthrown bank. This gap must therefore be
considered later than the primary use of the hillfort. The massive defences
visible over the northern part of the site have largely been levelled south of
the road although sections of the rampart, the ditch, and a possible
counterscarp are visible as low earthworks particularly on the down slope and
eastern part of the field in which they lie. The rampart here is visible
as a low rise about 11.4m wide fronted by a depression 8.9m wide which
indicates the underlying position of the ditch. Forward of the ditch is a
further rise visible only for a short distance but indicating traces of a
counterscarp. None of these features are visible further west in the same
field but a depression in the road on the suspected alignment of the ditch at
the western end of the monument suggests its presence as a below ground
feature beneath both the road and in the field.
A number of chance finds of sling stones have been reported from the monument
over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries.
All fencing and fence posts, gates and gate posts, and road surfaces, 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.
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

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.

The prehistoric hillfort of Stockland Great Castle survives well despite
levelling of part of the circuit by cultivation, and will contain
archaeological information relating to the construction and use of the site,
the lives of its inhabitants, and the landscape in which they lived. A
prehistoric routeway running along a nearby ridge, and an enclosed settlement
known as a `round' some 900m to the north east, provide unusual associations
for this hillfort.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Fox, A, Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon, (1996), 52-53
Griffith, F, Devon's Past: An Aerial View, (1988), 99
Hutchinson, P O, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in , , Vol. 2, (1867), 374-77
Wall, J C, 'A History of the County of Devon (Victoria County History)' in Ancient Earthworks, , Vol. I, (1906), 588
Phillips, C W, (1947)

Source: Historic England

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