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The Walls: a large multivallate hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Worfield, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.5677 / 52°34'3"N

Longitude: -2.3166 / 2°18'59"W

OS Eastings: 378638.366511

OS Northings: 296703.432451

OS Grid: SO786967

Mapcode National: GBR 081.WPX

Mapcode Global: WH9DR.DQ3C

Entry Name: The Walls: a large multivallate hillfort

Scheduled Date: 13 November 1972

Last Amended: 8 September 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021065

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34935

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Worfield

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Worfield

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork, standing structural and buried remains of
a large multivallate hillfort, known as The Walls. It occupies a slightly
elevated position, in an area of undulating land, within an angled,
steep-sided bend of the Stratford Brook, a tributary of the River Worfe. The
hillfort is thought to lie close to the south eastern margin of the pre-Roman
Iron Age tribal territory of the Cornovii.

The Walls hillfort is roughly D-shaped in plan. Its overall dimensions are
about 340m north-south by 620m north west-south east. The defensive circuit
encloses an area of approximately 9.5ha. Its size indicates that it was
occupied by a very large community where centralised economic and social
activities were practiced, including the storage and redistribution of food
and the performing of ceremonies. The interior of the hillfort is defined
by a single rampart with steep external and internal faces. The back of
the rampart has been reduced in height by ploughing along much of the
southern side. An outer rampart was constructed on the western side of the
hillfort. This also has a steep outer face and is separated from the inner
rampart by a rock-cut ditch. Along the southern and eastern parts of the
circuit the rampart is bounded externally by natural cliffs formed by the
Stratford Brook. These cliffs formed additional lines of defence, and in
places they have been quarried in order to enhance their defensive
appearance. Around the northern and western parts of the circuit the rampart
is bounded by a broad external ditch, which has been largely infilled and is
now mainly visible as a shallow depression. It will, however, survive well as
a buried feature. The original entrance passage into the interior of the
hillfort lies to the west of the mid-point on the northern side. To the
east of the entrance, the external ditch has been recut and partially
modified by modern drainage channels. Along parts of the inner and outer
faces of the recut ditch, revetment walls are visible. They are built of
roughly coursed sandstone blocks and stand to a height of 0.7m. A wall
faced in a similar manner, with a core of river cobbles and sandstone
blocks, was constructed on top of the rampart which defines the interior.
The wall, which now survives as discontinous lengths and is partly
embanked, is between 2.3m and 3.5m wide and stands up to 1m in height.
This wall, or breastwork, was noted by JB Blakeway, an antiquarian, in
the early 19th century. All these walls are considered to be contemporary
with the occupation of the hillfort and probably gave it its name.

An annexe was created on the lower spur of land to the south east of the main
area of the hillfort. It is defined on its south western, eastern and north
eastern sides by scarps with steep outer faces and rock-cut bases. It is
separated from the main area of the interior by a rampart, which is bounded in
part by an external rock-cut ditch. Access to the annexe was via a gap in the
rampart, about 6m wide. At the base of the southern tip of the annex, adjacent
to vertically cut rock faces, is a short flight of rock-cut steps. Around the
defensive circuit other flights of steps have been recorded in the past. It is
considered that these features were used to provide access to parts of the
circuit during the construction of the defences.

Since the 17th century much of the interior of the fort has been cultivated,
and finds of Roman coins here, noted by an early 19th century antiquarian, may
indicate that occupation continued into the Roman period.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: The Walls
bungalow, the surface of the modern farm track, all gate and fence posts and
iron railings; however, the ground beneath all 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 multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of between
5ha and 85ha in area, located on hills and defined by two or more lines of
concentric earthworks set at intervals of up to 15m. They date to the Iron
Age period, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC
and the mid-first century AD. They are generally regarded as centres of
permanent occupation, defended in response to increasing warfare, a reflection
of the power struggle between competing elites.
Earthworks usually consist of a rampart and ditch, although some only have
ramparts. Access to the interior is generally provided by two entrances
although examples with one and more than two have been noted. These may
comprise a single gap in the rampart, inturned or offset ramparts,
oblique approaches, guardrooms or outworks. Internal features generally
include evidence for intensive occupation, often in the form of oval or
circular houses. These display variations in size and are often clustered,
for example, along streets. Four- and six-post structures, interpreted as
raised granaries, also occur widely while a few sites appear to contain
evidence for temples. Other features associated with settlement include
platforms, paved areas, pits, gullies, fencelines, hearths and ovens.
Additional evidence, in the form of artefacts, suggests that industrial
activity such as bronze- and iron-working as well as pottery manufacture
occurred on many sites.
Large multivallate hillforts are rare with around 50 examples recorded
nationally. These occur mostly in two concentrations, in Wessex and the Welsh
Marches, although scattered examples occur elsewhere.
In view of the rarity of large multivallate hillforts and their importance in
understanding the nature of social organisation within the Iron Age period,
all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of
national importance.

The large multivallate hillfort known as The Walls is a good example of
this class of monument. It is one of a small number of such sites in
Shropshire. The defences are well-preserved and retain significant
information about their construction. In addition, organic remains surviving
in the buried ground surfaces beneath the ramparts and within the ditches
will provide evidence about the local environment and the use of the
surrounding land before the hillfort was constructed and during its
occupation. Within the interior extensive remains of buried structures
and associated deposits will survive. These will contain organic remains
and a range of contemporary artefacts, providing valuable insights into
the activities and lifestyles of inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Lines, H H, 'Transactions of Shropshire Archaeological Society, 2nd Series' in Chesterton Walls, , Vol. 3, (1891)
Mander, G P, 'The Wolverhampton Journal' in Chesterton Walls, (1908), 265-68

Source: Historic England

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