Reasons for Designation
Promontory forts are a type of hillfort in which conspicuous naturally defended sites are adapted as enclosures by the construction of one or more earth or stone ramparts placed across the neck of a spur in order to divide it from the surrounding land. Coastal situations, using headlands defined by steep natural cliffs, are common while inland similar topographic settings defined by natural cliffs are also used. The ramparts and accompanying ditches formed the main artificial defence, but timber palisades may have been erected along the cliff edges. Access to the interior was generally provided by an entrance through the ramparts. The interior of the fort was used intensively for settlement and related activities, and evidence for timber- and stone- walled round houses can be expected, together with the remains of buildings used for storage and enclosures for animals. Promontory forts are generally Iron Age in date, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are broadly contemporary with other types of hillfort. They are regarded as settlements of high status, probably occupied on a permanent basis, and recent interpretations suggest that their construction and choice of location had as much to do with display as defence. Promontory forts are rare nationally with less than 100 recorded examples. They are rare and important for understanding the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period. The promontory fort 375m south west of Highfold Farm survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, maintenance, longevity, territorial, social and strategic significance, agricultural practices, trade, domestic arrangements, abandonment and overall landscape context.
The monument includes a promontory fort, situated on the summit of a projecting spur, overlooking the valley of the Little Avon River. The fort survives as a roughly D-shaped enclosure defined to the north and east by a curving single rampart and buried ditch. It is defined to the remaining sides by steep natural scarp slopes, augmented partially to the south by a short length of slight rampart bank. The interior of the promontory fort measures up to a maximum of 203m long by 158m wide and the whole covers approximately 2.78ha. The partial southern rampart bank is up to 0.6m high whilst the main north and eastern rampart bank is up to 12.1m wide and 3m high. Exposed limestone in this area appears to show evidence for fire reddening. The ditch, which measures up to 7.2m wide, is buried and generally the soil is of a darker hue and stone free. Two or even three possible entrances have been identified, including one to the east, but none are conclusively original. The fort is known locally as 'Horton Camp' or 'The Castles'.
Sources: PastScape 205114
South Gloucester HER 2112