Ancient Monuments

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Castle Bank Enclosure

A Scheduled Monument in North Newington, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 52.0647 / 52°3'52"N

Longitude: -1.4091 / 1°24'32"W

OS Eastings: 440602.378806

OS Northings: 240867.417355

OS Grid: SP406408

Mapcode National: GBR 6RD.JK6

Mapcode Global: VHBYR.JCDK

Entry Name: Castle Bank Enclosure

Scheduled Date: 7 June 2007

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021414

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30875

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: North Newington

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Broughton with North Newington

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes the remains of Castle Bank enclosure, a roughly square
univallate hillfort, aligned north west to south east and situated some 550m
west of French's Buildings. It is located on a plateau overlooking a ravine
on its north western side called Padsdon Bottom, which is fed by springs to
the north.
The defences include a single rampart and an outer ditch which enclose an
area measuring 190m from north west to south east and 190m from north east to
south west. The rampart is constructed of stone and turf, and is believed,
through evidence of substantial stone slabs in the field, to have had a
probably dry-stone revetment. It has been subject to later cultivation which
has reduced its height to approximately 11m wide and 3.5m high. The
construction of the north western rampart demonstrates how its builders have
utilised and enhanced the steep natural topography of the ravine. The
defensive rampart measures approximately 15m wide and is continuous except
for an approximately 10m wide gap at the entrance on its north western side,
adjacent to the water supply.
Surrounding the rampart, but no longer visible at ground level, is a quarry
ditch. This would have served the dual function of enhancing the defences
and providing material for the construction of the rampart. It has become
largely infilled due to cultivation and deposition of soil from the banks
over time, but will survive as a buried feature about 10m wide.
Previous field investigation carried out over the monument has produced a
small number of worked flints from the topsoil.
Exluded from the scheduling are all post and wire fences, pheasant shelters
and gates, although the ground beneath all of 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

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 reduction of the ramparts through later cultivation, Castle Bank
enclosure survives well and is a good example of its class. It is located in
an area where there are similar known examples of hillfort monuments located
to the south and south west at Tadmarton Camp and Madmarston Hill.
The hillfort will retain evidence of its construction and use and may contain
surviving evidence within its defences of occupation and associated activity.
Environmental evidence in the form of seeds and pollen will also tell us much
about the landscape within which it was set.
The monument will also help in furthering our understanding of this class of
fortified settlement and, by comparison to similar monuments in the area,
will tell us much about the development of settlement and the economy of
their Late Bronze Age/Iron Age builders.

Source: Historic England

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