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Small multivallate hillfort at Burrow, 750m WSW of St Mary's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Hopesay, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.442 / 52°26'31"N

Longitude: -2.9106 / 2°54'38"W

OS Eastings: 338201.303598

OS Northings: 283060.840302

OS Grid: SO382830

Mapcode National: GBR BB.M63N

Mapcode Global: VH765.HWNB

Entry Name: Small multivallate hillfort at Burrow, 750m WSW of St Mary's Church

Scheduled Date: 20 July 1933

Last Amended: 8 September 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021071

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34941

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Hopesay

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Hopesay

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a small multivallate
hillfort situated on the summit of Burrow hill. It encompasses the earthwork
and buried remains of an earlier, small multivallate hillfort.

The earliest hillfort occupied the highest part of the hill, from which there
are extensive views in every direction. Its irregular or ovate plan is
similar to that of the larger, later hillfort. The internal area of the
earlier fort is about 2ha, but the full extent of its construction is not
known as the defences on its north western side and the outer part of the
southern side have been incorporated into the defensive circuit of the
later hillfort. To the east and the south, parts of the defences of the
earlier fort survive as earthworks, and form an inner enclosure within the
later hillfort. The original entrance through these earlier defences is
centrally positioned on the eastern side. To the north of the entrance a
single rampart is visible, together with a slight terrace marking the
position of the infilled ditch. To the south of the entrance the rampart
and ditch continue. The ditch is discernible for the most part as a
shallow depression and is flanked by an outer rampart, defined by an
external ditch, which in turn is bounded in part by an outer
(counterscarp) bank. This ditch and the outer bank have both been
modified during the construction of the later hillfort. Within the
interior of the earlier fort is a pronounced natural scarp running
south west-north east, which defines the highest part of hilltop to the
south. Along this steep scarp bedrock is visible, and it appears that the
scarp acted as a quarry for the construction of the surrounding defences.
Also within the interior of the earlier fort are level areas and slight
depressions, many of which are believed to represent the positions of
domestic and ancillary buildings contemporary with the earlier and later

The overall dimensions of the later hillfort are approximately 285m
north-south by 495m south west-north east. The defensive circuit encloses an
area of about 4.2ha. The enlargement of the hillfort created two distinct
areas: one to the west occupying the site of the original fort, and the other
to the east bounded entirely by a new defensive circuit. The construction of
these new defences, including the modification of the existing fort, was a
massive undertaking and represents a considerable investment of labour. The
defences around much of the later hillfort consist of three ramparts and an
outer (counterscarp) bank, each separated by a ditch. Along parts of the inner
rampart there are also indications of an internal quarry ditch. Along the
western part of the north western side, where the ground falls away most
steeply, the defensive line is maintained by the two inner ramparts and the
intervening ditch. Vertical rock-cut faces of the ditches are still clearly
visible around the western end of the fort.

There are two principal entrances into the fort: one at the northern end of
the eastern side, and the other roughly mid-way along the southern side. At
the eastern entrance there is a long passage through the defences where the
southern end of the inner rampart curves inwards. At the southern entrance the
ends of the inner rampart are also inturned. Here, the position of the
entrance, close to the defences of the earlier hillfort, enabled access to the
eastern internal area to be strictly controlled. There is a subsiduary
entrance into the fort at the south western corner, where a narrow causeway
crosses the defences and provides direct access to the western area. At the
south eastern corner of the fort there is another break in the defences, which
appears to be associated with two springs: one located next to the middle
rampart (now covered by a concrete slab) and the other (which exists as a
marshy area) within the interior a short distance from the rampart. A further
spring within the eastern area lies close to the defences of the earlier fort.

Throughout the eastern area of the fort there are many level areas and slight
depressions, which are considered to mark the positions of former buildings.
In 1978 a small-scale archaeological excavation was undertaken to examine one
of these platforms, which lay a short distance to the north of the entrance to
the earlier fort and close to the front of the rampart. This investigation
revealed the remains of several superimposed circular timber buildings
associated with Iron Age pottery, including fine wares from the Malvern
Hills, course pottery from the Clee Hills and salt containers from Cheshire.
The buildings were partly cut into bedrock and partly into the infilled
ditch at the front of the rampart.

All gate and fence posts, and the concrete cover over the spring, are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is

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 at Burrow is a fine example of this class of
monument. The earthwork and buried remains of the defences retain significant
information about their construction and modification. In addition, organic
remains surviving in buried ground surfaces beneath the ramparts and
counterscarp bank, and within the ditches, will provide important information
about the local environment and the use of the surrounding land before the
hillfort was built and during its occupation. Well-preserved organic remains
associated with the springs, will also enhance this picture. The survival of
internal building platforms as earthworks indicate that the buried remains of
structures and associated deposits will survive well. This has been
demonstrated by the limited archaeological excavation of one of the building
platforms. The excavation produced a significant assemblage of Iron Age
pottery, which demonstrates wide-ranging trading contacts between the
occupants of the hillfort and communities throughout the Welsh borderland.
This hillfort offers significant potential for the analysis and undertanding
of many aspects of Iron Age life.

Source: Historic England


Morris, EL, Petrology report for Iron Age ceramic material from Burrow Hill, 1980, Draft unpublished report in SMR
Toller, H, Burrow Hill Iron Age Hillfort: excavation and survey report, 1978, Draft unpublished report in SMR

Source: Historic England

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