Earthwork on Shipton Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Dorset (Unitary Authority)
Dorset (Unitary Authority)
Shipton Gorge
National Grid Reference:
SY 50763 92141


Iron Age defended settlement 360m WNW of Higher Sturthill Farm.

Reasons for Designation

During the Iron Age a variety of different types of settlement were constructed and occupied in south western England. At the top of the settlement hierarchy were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition to these a group of smaller sites, known as defended settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops, others in less prominent positions. They are generally smaller than the hillforts, sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha. The enclosing defences were of earthen construction. Univallate sites have a single bank and ditch, multivallate sites more than one. At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Where excavated, evidence of stone- or timber-built houses has been found within the enclosures, which, in contrast to the hillfort sites, would have been occupied by small communities, perhaps no more than a single family group. Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element of the settlement pattern, particularly in the upland areas of south western England, and are integral to any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during this period. Despite partial excavation the Iron Age defended settlement 360m WNW of Higher Sturthill Farm survives well and will contain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, function, longevity, development, social organisation, domestic arrangements, agricultural practices, trade and overall landscape context.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 21 December 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

This monument includes an Iron Age defended settlement situated on and occupying the summit of a steeply sided and prominent knoll known as Shipton Hill. The settlement survives as an elongated oval enclosure of approximately 3.7ha defined by natural slopes to the west and east but by banks with ditches to the north and south sides. To the south the bank is up to 10m wide and 2.5m high and is cut by a modern track the ditch is 5m wide and 0.5m deep. To the north the bank is up to 10m wide and 1.3m high and a modern bank lies within the line of the ditch. Within the interior is a small circular mound measuring 10m in diameter and 0.2m high with a surrounding visible quarry ditch which supports a triangulation pillar. This has been interpreted as a possible bowl barrow. Partial excavations produced Iron Age pottery, hammer stones, flint flakes and scrapers, spindle whorls, sling stones, quern fragments, a Kimmeridge Shale ring, and a possible bronze spear tip. This prominent hill was also the site of a beacon.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
DO 287
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument No:-451331 and 884572


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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