Ancient Monuments

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Small multivallate hillfort 340m south east of North Road Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Tattershall Thorpe, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.1215 / 53°7'17"N

Longitude: -0.1737 / 0°10'25"W

OS Eastings: 522314.336815

OS Northings: 359820.941837

OS Grid: TF223598

Mapcode National: GBR HS6.BX1

Mapcode Global: WHHKW.9SJT

Entry Name: Small multivallate hillfort 340m south east of North Road Farm

Scheduled Date: 11 February 1981

Last Amended: 12 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018353

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29725

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Tattershall Thorpe

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Tattershall Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the buried remains of a small multivallate hillfort
located 340m south east of North Road Farm. It is situated in a commanding
position on the Southrey gravel terrace above the River Bain to the south east
and the River Witham to the south west.
Although the monument is no longer visible on the ground, the remains of its
infilled and buried ditches are preserved beneath the present ground surface
and can be seen from the air as a series of cropmarks. These cropmarks, which
have been recorded on aerial photographs since 1975, represent enhanced crop
growth caused by higher moisture levels retained by the underlying
archaeological features.
The buried remains - roughly oblong in shape - originally measured
approximately 300m long by 170m wide overall. However, sections of the
defences to the north east and south east were destroyed by quarrying in the
1970s and 1980s and consequently these areas are not included in the
Nevertheless, excavations carried out at this time have provided valuable
archaeological evidence, and confirmed the aerial photography evidence for a
double ditch system, revealing two ditches 5m in width and 16m apart. The
outer ditch was found to be `U'-shaped and approximately 2m deep, while the
inner ditch was flat bottomed and about 1.8m in depth. Access to the interior
was provided by a causeway to the north, within the area now destroyed. Upcast
from the ditches was used to construct substantial internal banks. These have
since been reduced by ploughing but environmental evidence from the excavation
suggests that the banks were originally reinforced by hedges and possibly by a
series of posts. Pottery sherds recovered from the ditches indicate that the
monument was probably constructed and used in the Iron Age, from about the
third century BC, falling into disuse in the early first century AD, before
the Roman Conquest. Radiocarbon dating of wood found at the site in
association with the earliest pottery fragments confirms the likely period of
The area excavated was limited mainly to the ditches and provided no
archaeological evidence for activities within the defences, but organic
material recovered from the ditches has demonstrated both the changing nature
of the surrounding landscape and the probable use of the site.
The ditches were originally water-filled, tending to silt up rapidly. This
would have necessitated frequent cleaning and there is evidence for at least
one actual recut. Vegetation overhanging the ditches shed material into the
water and silts, and its preservation in the damp conditions gives a clear
impression of the site's immediate environs.
This rich source of environmental evidence, derived from samples containing
many varieties of flora and fauna shows that the monument was built in an area
of grassland broken by patches of woodland and scrub. There was some limited
cultivation, reflecting the poor nature of the soil, and it is thought that
the local economic basis was pastoral.
Further evidence has been provided by the many species of insect remains
recovered from the site, which also reflect a landscape affected by stock
rearing and arable cultivation.
Archaeologists have suggested that although the system of ditches and ramparts
was clearly defensive in form, the site may not have had any true military
function. It is thought that, while the monument may have served as a refuge
for the local Iron Age population in times of threat, it is more likely that
its primary use was for the seasonal coralling of grazing animals. The banks
and ditches would have enclosed the animals and provided a deterrent to cattle
rustlers and predators.
A second, similar monument (the subject of a separate scheduling) is located
some 2.5km to the north west, also on the Southrey gravel terrace, and the
proximity of the two sites in the same ecosystem implies that both shared the
same primary function. No dating evidence is yet available for this second
site but it is possible that the two monuments were at least broadly
contemporary and may even have been within the control of the same community.

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.

Although the hillfort 340m south east of North Road Farm has been reduced by
ploughing and gravel extraction, a substantial portion of the ditch system and
interior remains undisturbed beneath the present ground surface.
Archaeological investigations of the portion affected by quarrying has
demonstrated that the buried ditches survive well and contain artefactual
evidence relating to the dating, construction, period of use and function of
the monument.
It is thought that the same fills may retain high levels of organic material,
providing further valuable environmental evidence to illustrate both
activities focussed on the site, and the nature of the landscape in which the
monument was set.
Although no artefactual evidence was recovered from the interior, the area
under investigation represented only a very small proportion of the enclosure.
It is, therefore, probable that the undisturbed remainder will contain further
evidence which will contribute to a fuller interpretation of the site.
The monument is situated some 2.5km to the south east of a similar defended
enclosure at Kirkstead and a comparison of the information derived from the
two sites may have significance for the study of land use and agricultural
practices in the area during the Iron Age.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Chowne, P, Girling, M, Greig, J, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in Excavations At An I A Defended Enclosure At Tattershall Thorpe, , Vol. 52, (1986), 159-88

Source: Historic England

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