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Norton Camp: a large multivallate hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Craven Arms, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.4327 / 52°25'57"N

Longitude: -2.8143 / 2°48'51"W

OS Eastings: 344730.050938

OS Northings: 281944.512424

OS Grid: SO447819

Mapcode National: GBR BF.MZSY

Mapcode Global: VH76F.53JY

Entry Name: Norton Camp: a large multivallate hillfort

Scheduled Date: 15 May 1934

Last Amended: 8 September 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021073

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34943

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Craven Arms

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Culmington

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of Norton Camp, a large
multivallate hillfort, situated on a gentle south east facing slope on the
summit of a hill. Its position takes advantage of the natural defences
provided by the precipitous slope and cliff faces to the north west. The
hillfort occupies a commanding position above the Onny valley, and there are
extensive views to the south and east of the undulating lowlands and the
uplands beyond.

Norton Camp is D-shaped in plan. Its overall dimensions are about 350m north
west-south east by 360m south west-north east. The defensive circuit
encloses an area of approximately 7ha. 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. Around much of the defensive circuit the
earthworks consist of two ramparts each bounded by an external ditch. The
inner rampart has a narrow top and is steep-sided, whereas the top of the
outer rampart is broader and has a more gently sloping profile, which is
stepped in places. Within the ditch which separates these ramparts, rock-cut
faces are still visible at the south western and north eastern ends. Running
parallel with the defences on the south western side are two short outer banks
separated by a ditch. These outer earthworks appear to have been built as
additional lines of defence. Along the top of the precipitious slope on the
north western side, the earthwork defences consist of a single, straight-
sided, low rampart, defined externally by a narrow terrace which is adjacent
to a natural cliff. On the top of this rampart stonework is visible and is
probably the collapsed remains of a low wall, or breastwork. There are
two entrances into the hillfort: one to the east and the other at the south
east. Both are elaborate, with the ends of most of the ramparts turning
inwards or outwards to form the entrance corridors. Within the interior, about
50m from the south eastern entrance, is an oval depression about 11m by 12m
wide and 1.5m deep. This depression may mark the site of a former spring.

Much of the interior of the hillfort has been cultivated since at least the
late 19th century. Within the north western area are remains of small stone
quarries. Several breaks across the defences in the vicinity of the quarries
suggest that they were created in order remove stone from the site.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: Keepers
Cottage and the associated outbuildings, the reservoir and its protective
cover, animal drinking troughs, the surfaces of the modern farm tracks, all
gate and fence posts, waymarker posts and stiles; 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 multivallate hillfort known as Norton Camp is a good example of this class
of monument. It is one of only a small number of such sites known 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 outer bank, 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 deposits will
contain organic remains and a range of contemporary artefacts, which will
provide valuable insights into the activities and lifestyles of inhabitants.

Source: Historic England

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