Promontory fort and part of the medieval frontier defence known as Offa’s Dyke, 520m WNW of Ashberry House.
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 both rare and important for understanding of the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period.
A small number of substantial and defensible boundary features have been identified as frontier works marking territories in the early medieval period. Up to 50 examples are known with a fairly wide distribution across England, including examples in southern England, East Anglia, Yorkshire, and Derbyshire and along the Welsh border. Identified remains extend over distances from as little as 300m up to as much as 240km in the case of Offa's Dyke. They survive in the form of earthworks and as buried features visible as cropmarks or soil marks on aerial photographs. They appear often to have been constructed across the natural grain of the landscape and, although many examples consisted of a single bank and flanking ditch, to vary considerably in their form and dimensions, even along different stretches of the same boundary, depending upon local topography. Evidence from contemporary documentary sources, excavation and survey suggests that they were constructed in the early medieval period between the fifth and eighth centuries AD. Some were relatively ephemeral, perhaps in use for only a few years during periods of local strife; others, such as Offa's Dyke, constructed between Wales and Mercia, have formed long-lived territorial and/or military boundaries in use for several centuries. As a rare monument type of considerable importance to the study of early medieval territorial patterns, all surviving examples are identified as being extremely important.
Despite some subsequent building work the promontory fort and part of the medieval frontier defence known as Offa’s Dyke, 520m WNW of Ashberry House, survive well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, development, interrelationship, longevity, territorial and strategic significance through time, adaptive re-use and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 9 July 2015. The 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.
The monument includes a promontory fort and part of the medieval frontier defence known as Offa’s Dyke situated on an extremely steeply sloping spur formed by a meander in the River Wye. The fort survives as a roughly triangular shaped enclosure defined on two sides by steep natural valley scarps and on the landward side by an outer multivallate defence of two concentric rampart banks standing up to 2m high with accompanying ditches up to 2.5m deep and with an outer partial counterscarp bank. These earthworks are of Iron Age origin but were re-used to form part of Offa’s Dyke in the early medieval period. An inner rampart lies to the west at the narrowest point across the promontory and survives as a bank standing up to 1.4m high with a largely buried outer ditch.
Other sections of Offa’s Dyke are the subject of separate schedulings.