Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Castle Ditches

A Scheduled Monument in Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan (Bro Morgannwg)

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Latitude: 51.4214 / 51°25'16"N

Longitude: -3.3547 / 3°21'16"W

OS Eastings: 305900

OS Northings: 170023

OS Grid: ST059700

Mapcode National: GBR HP.PQX1

Mapcode Global: VH6FH.SJWQ

Entry Name: Castle Ditches

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 3498

Cadw Legacy ID: GM071

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Hillfort

Period: Prehistoric

County: Vale of Glamorgan (Bro Morgannwg)

Community: Llancarfan

Traditional County: Glamorgan


The monument comprises the remains of a hillfort which probably dates to the Iron Age period (c. 800 BC - AD 74). Hillforts are usually located on hilltops and surrounded by a single or multiple earthworks of massive proportions. Hillforts must have formed symbols of power within the landscape, while their function may have had as much to do with ostentation and display as defence.

The hillfort is situated on the western end of an east-west ridge. The ground slopes steeply away from it on the north, west and south, especially on the north. The interior is flat, and is divided into several fields. The fort is defended by a large well preserved bank, an external ditch on most sides, and in places a counterscarp bank. The entrance is on the south side. Along the southwest side there is a steep-sided scarp 2.5m - 3m high. It is grass covered, with a hedge on the top. Stones are showing in places. Outside it is a ditch 4m wide and 1.5m deep with a steep-sided counterscarp bank 7m wide and 1m high externally. A causeway 7m wide crosses ther ditch at the west end and opposite it the outer bank has been cut into c. 1m on the north side, and the inner bank has been cut into c.1m (there is a field gate here), with stones showing in the cutting. North of the causeway the outer bank is well marked, becoming less so towards the northwest corner.

Along the north side the inner scarp is 1.5m high. The ditch continues at the same depth, becoming very shallow in the middle, and starting again c. 0.5m deep towards the east end. Outside the ditch the ground drops very steeply and is wooded. At the northeast corner the ditch and outer bank have become very slight. Along the east side the bank is c. 2.5m high on the outside and 1.5m high on the inside. There is no ditch. In the middle is a 3.5m wide break in the bank where a farm track has been driven through. A farmyard abuts onto the bank in the southeast corner, where the inside height is 2m. Along the east end of the south side the external ditch is very shallow. Further west it is 5m wide and 1.5m deep. The bank is 3m high on the outside and 1m high on the inside. There is another gate through the bank. The bank turns abruptly towards the south where there is another entrance with a field gate. This is thought to be the entrance to the fort. South of it running south there is a broad low bank, which runs as far as the road. The main bank starts again and curves around towards the northwest. It is very close to the road here, and the ditch appears to have been cut off by it. The ditch starts again, 0.3m deep and 3 - 4m wide. The scarp is 3m wide here and very steep.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of later prehistoric defensive organisation and settlement. The site forms an important element within the wider later prehistoric context and within the surrounding landscape. The site is well preserved and retains considerable archaeological potential. There is a strong probability of the presence of evidence relating to chronology, building techniques and functional detail.

The scheduled area comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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