Ancient Monuments

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Hillfort known as Castle Hill Settlement, 350m south of Woolleigh Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in St. Giles in the Wood, Devon

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Latitude: 50.932 / 50°55'55"N

Longitude: -4.1027 / 4°6'9"W

OS Eastings: 252337.431116

OS Northings: 116828.24703

OS Grid: SS523168

Mapcode National: GBR KP.PLG9

Mapcode Global: FRA 269N.1GJ

Entry Name: Hillfort known as Castle Hill Settlement, 350m south of Woolleigh Bridge

Scheduled Date: 23 March 2009

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021417

English Heritage Legacy ID: 36044

County: Devon

Civil Parish: St. Giles in the Wood

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Beaford All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes a hillfort situated on the summit of a pronounced
promontory around which the River Torridge flows. The hillfort survives as
an ovoid enclosure measuring 220m by 110m and is denoted by a rampart and
ditch, which along the eastern circuit also has a counterscarp bank. The
rampart stands over 2m high except around the southern circuit where it has
been reduced in height by cultivation. The entrance is situated at the north
eastern side of the hillfort and survives as an offset in-turned gap flanked
by out-turned outer banks.

Recent research has suggested that the hillfort maybe the site of the
significant battle of Cynuit in AD 878. This battle between the Vikings led
by Ubhe Ragnarsson and the Anglo-Saxons under the leadership of Ealdorman
Odda, resulted in a victory for Odda and prevented the Vikings from gaining
complete control of England. The hillfort appears to conform to the location
described by contemporary chroniclers and place-name evidence, but further
research will inevitably be needed to overthrow the generally accepted site
at Cannington Hill near Bridgwater.

The modern fence posts within the hillfort are excluded from the scheduling,
but the ground beneath 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 partial damage as a result of cultivation, the hillfort known as
Castle Hill Settlement survives well and will contain important
archaeological and environmental information relating to land use and society
in this part of Devon during the Iron Age and may contain further evidence of
re-occupation during the Anglo-Saxon period. The identification of this
hillfort as the possible site of the battle of Cynuit certainly enhances its
importance. Of particular note is the well preserved counterscarp bank on the
particularly steep south east facing side.

Source: Historic England


Websites, accessed from
Devon County Council, Devon Historic Environment Record SS51NW6, (2006)

Source: Historic England

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