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Callow Hill Camp: a small multivallate hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Pontesbury, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.6376 / 52°38'15"N

Longitude: -2.9111 / 2°54'39"W

OS Eastings: 338440.381034

OS Northings: 304819.440889

OS Grid: SJ384048

Mapcode National: GBR B9.6ZZG

Mapcode Global: WH8BY.8Y0T

Entry Name: Callow Hill Camp: a small multivallate hillfort

Scheduled Date: 5 December 1928

Last Amended: 9 May 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019828

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33838

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Pontesbury

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Minsterley

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a small multivallate
hillfort, situated on the southern end of the summit of Callow Hill
overlooking the Rea Brook valley to the north. Callow Hill slopes steeply on
its eastern and western sides, while on the southern side there is a deep
ravine. To the north, the natural fall of the ground is less steep, but much
of this part of the hill was quarried for stone in the 20th century.

The hillfort is roughly triangular in plan, with overall dimensions of 96m
north west to south east by 146m south west to north east. The defensive
circuit defines an area of about 0.3ha. Its size would suggest it was the
settlement of a small community, perhaps several related family groups or a
single extended family group. The earthwork defences of the hillfort consist
of two principal ramparts separated by a ditch. The outer faces of the
ramparts survive as steep scarps, which closely follow the contours of the
hill. The ditch, which has been largelly infilled, is discernible as a terrace
or as a shallow depression, but will survive as a buried feature. Along the
north western side an outer ditch defined by an external rampart provided an
additional line of defence. A similar arrangement exists on the southern side,
but here the outermost rampart is bounded externally by a terrace or infilled
ditch. Running along this outer terrace is a former boundary bank. This
section of the boundary bank is included in the scheduling. The original
entrance into the interior of the hillfort was via a 4m causeway through the
north eastern corner of the defences.

Documentary sources suggest that in the medieval period a stone-built castle
was constructed on Callow Hill. Its exact location is not known, and there is
no visible indication to suggest that the remains of the castle lie within the

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

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.

The small multivallate hillfort on Callow Hill is a good example of this class
of monument. It is one of a group of broadly contemporary hillforts
constructed along the hills overlooking the Rea Brook valley. In common with
these other defended settlements, the hillfort on Callow Hill is considered to
contain significant buried deposits, structural features, artefactual and
organic remains, which have the potential to illustrate many aspects of Iron
Age life. The defences will retain evidence about their manner of construction
and any subsequent modification. The organic remains surviving in the buried
ground surfaces beneath the ramparts and within the ditches will also provide
important information about the local environment and the use of the land
before and after the hillfort was constructed.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire : Volume VIII, (1968), 306
Reid, ML, Callow Hill Camp. An archaeological management plan, 1998, A report for Shropshire CC

Source: Historic England

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