Ancient Monuments

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Hillfort 475m south of Howley Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Whitestaunton, Somerset

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Latitude: 50.8754 / 50°52'31"N

Longitude: -3.046 / 3°2'45"W

OS Eastings: 326502.992574

OS Northings: 108955.218824

OS Grid: ST265089

Mapcode National: GBR M3.T459

Mapcode Global: FRA 46HS.K4X

Entry Name: Hillfort 475m south of Howley Farm

Scheduled Date: 11 June 1976

Last Amended: 16 April 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018636

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32158

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Whitestaunton

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Church of England Parish: Whitestaunton

Church of England Diocese: Bath and Wells


The monument includes a prehistoric slight univallate hillfort located on the
east edge of the Blackdown Hills. The site is aligned from north to south and
situated on a ridge of greensand which drops steeply down to the west into the
valley of the River Yarty.
The hillfort, which measures approximately 148m from east to west at its
widest and 324m from north to south including the entrance arthworks, is oval
in plan with an area of approximately 2ha enclosed by a bank with a
surrounding external ditch. The dimensions of the bank vary throughout the
circuit of the hillfort ranging from between 3m high from the base of the
ditch on the east side and 10.7m high on the inner slope on the western side.
The ditch is flat-bottomed in profile with an average width of 4.8m.
Additional defences on the west of the hillfort in the wooded area have been
provided by the scarping of the steep natural slope outside the ditch.
The original entrance to the hillfort is located on the extreme south and was
created by the continuation southwards of the east and west banks for 60m
forming a 9m wide passage way. A break in the bank on the north east is
considered to be of a more recent date.
Evidence that the site was used for producing iron has been found in the form
of smelting refuse. Although a precise date has yet to be established for the
occupation of this site, it is known that iron working was introduced to
Britain from approximately 550BC.
All fence posts and water troughs together with the dutch barn, located
adjacent to the ditch on the north east of the hillfort 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

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.

The slight univallate hillfort 475m south of Howley Farm survives well and is
unusual in having been involved in the production of iron. The monument will
provide valuable archaeological information relating to the monument, the
lives of its inhabitants, their economy and the landscape in which they lived.

Source: Historic England

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