Ancient Monuments

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Hillfort known as Slapton Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Stokenham, Devon

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Latitude: 50.2871 / 50°17'13"N

Longitude: -3.6742 / 3°40'27"W

OS Eastings: 280827.304758

OS Northings: 44353.160137

OS Grid: SX808443

Mapcode National: GBR QN.3HR7

Mapcode Global: FRA 3868.LFJ

Entry Name: Hillfort known as Slapton Castle

Scheduled Date: 19 June 1957

Last Amended: 20 July 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019236

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33744

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Stokenham

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Stokenham St Michael and All Angels

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes a slight univallate hillfort, aligned along a north
east to south west spur and with maximum dimensions of 351m long by 134m wide
across the outer limits of the visible earthworks. The rampart, which includes
a bank and outer ditch with counterscarp banks, straddles the 60m and 80m
contours, the interior of the fort sloping gently down from west to east. A
hedged lane passes through the fort along its long axis, cutting through the
ramparts at either end. Later field banks follow the rampart on the north side
of the fort.
At the north east end of the fort, the 60m contour forms a narrow tongue which
projects 100m to the east from the only visible original entrance to the fort.
The tongue was utilised to provide a hornwork, protecting from the north side
of the entrance at this point. The hornwork consists of a long projecting
earthwork, scarped steeply away to the north in two long steps, falling about
8m to the lane. The lower step continues about 10m further east, the upper one
curving round to create a kidney shaped earthwork 22m north to south, by 55m
east to west and about 1.5m high. The convex side of this earthwork faces
south, giving a wide field of fire on the hilltop and would have commanded the
entire approach to the fort including the gate itself to the west, and the
scarp slope down to the north. It would also have commanded the entire
approach to the fort gate during its period of use. The south side of the
approach must have had an earthwork forming an entrance passage to make the
hornwork effective. Slight traces of a scarped earthwork curve away south east
of the fort gate. This has been ploughed and is now about 0.3m high. The lane
cuts through the main rampart immediately north of the east gate to the fort
where the position of the rampart is visible by an abrupt break of slope in
the lane.
The ramparts survive well on the north side of the lane. Here, the rampart
rises 1.5m from the fort's interior and falls about 5m to the outer ditch. A
counterscarp rises again about 2m from the ditch and is overlain by a recent
hedgebank. In the field to the north, a level terrace 6m to 8m from the
centre line of the bank may represent a levelled glacis. On the south side of
the lane, the ramparts have been ploughed since at least 1946 and now appear
as a scarp about 2.5m high with a slight change in slope to indicate the
position of the ditch. Towards the south western end of this sector, the
rampart swells out to a width of about 10m. This could represent the position
of an abandoned gateway. Stratified archaeological remains survive in this
area and flint and pottery scatters have been found. Immediately within the
ramparts in this area are concentrations of beach pebbles, possibly
representing slingstone dumps. In the south west corner of the fort, a
fragment of upstanding rampart survives, the counterscarp rising about 0.5m
from the interior and the scarp falling about 3.5m to a terrace, representing
the filled ditch. The lane cuts abruptly through the rampart at this point,
its position visible by a rise of about 0.5m in the road surface.
The modern road surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath 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

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.

Despite cultivation since at least 1946, the hillfort known as Slapton Castle
will preserve features relating to the development and use of the monument.
The survival of outworks and an area of overlapping ramparts at the east
entrance is very unusual in an area where univallation is almost universal.
The survival of stratified archaeological deposits in this previously
unexcavated hillfort is of considerable importance to the future understanding
of the monument.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Elliott, E A S, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in On Some Earthworks In The South Hams, , Vol. 33, (1901), 475-483

Source: Historic England

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