Haresfield Hill camp and Ring Hill earthworks
- 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.
- Stroud (District Authority)
- Stroud (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SO 82344 09046, SO 82687 09064
Haresfield Hill camp and Ring Hill earthworks, 230m south east of Ringhill Farm.
Reasons for Designation
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. 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. They are important for understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities.
Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks, typically between 2.2km and 1km long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside or parallel to one or more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges and spurs. They are recognised as earthworks, as cropmarks on aerial photographs, or as combinations of both. The evidence of excavation and analogy with associated monuments demonstrates that the period of construction of many cross dykes spanned the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age. Others are known to have had a function in the Middle Ages; without excavation it is difficult to determine whether this indicates reuse of earlier dykes or the construction of new ones during the medieval period. Current information favours the view that they were used as boundary markers, probably demarcating some form of land allotment, although they may also have been used as trackways, cattle droveways or defensive earthworks. Cross dykes are one of the few monument types which indicate how land was divided up, whether in the prehistoric or medieval period. They are of considerable importance for the analysis of contemporary settlement and land use patterns. Relatively few examples have survived to the present day.
Beacons were fires deliberately lit to give a warning, by means of smoke by day and flame by night, of the approach of hostile forces. They were always sited in prominent positions, usually as part of a group, chain or line which together made up a comprehensive early warning system covering most of the country. Beacons were extensively used during the medieval period. Their use was formalised by 1325 and although some were used later, for example at the time of Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685 or during the Napoleonic wars, the system was in decay by the mid-17th century. Beacons were initially bonfires of wood or furze, but later barrels of pitch or iron fire baskets mounted on poles were used. The poles were occasionally set on earthen mounds. Access to the fire basket was by way of rungs set in the pole, or by a stone ladder set against the beacon.
Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices.
Later Iron Age and Romano-British occupation included a range of settlement types. The surviving remains comprise farmsteads, hamlets, villages and hillforts, which together demonstrate an important sequence of settlement. Most early examples are characterised by a curvilinear enclosure with circular domestic buildings and associated agricultural structures. Where excavated, these sites are also found to contain pits or rectangular post-built structures for the storage of grain and other produce, evidence of an organised and efficient farming system. The surrounding enclosures would have provided protection against cattle rustling and tribal raiding. The simple farmsteads are sometimes superseded by rectilinear or triangular shaped enclosures with rectilinear buildings and many examples were occupied over an extended period and some grew in size and complexity.
The wide variety of features forming the multi-period landscape 230m south east of Ringhill Farm indicate its continuing importance and changes of use through time. Despite quarrying and tree growth the area will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the construction, development, longevity, interrelationships, chronological sequence, re-use, political, territorial and strategic significance, agricultural practices, domestic arrangements, funerary and ritual practices and overall landscape context of the hillside through time.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 8 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.
This monument, which falls into two separate areas of protection, includes a slight univallate hillfort, Romano-British settlement, cross dyke, bowl barrow and beacon all situated on the prominent summits of the Ring and Haresfield Hills which together form the watershed to a large number of tributaries to Daniel’s Brook and the River Frome.
Originally viewed as a single large hillfort bisected by a road, subsequent survey work in 1995 and re-evaluation now means a slightly different interpretation has been reached. On the western Ring Hill section is a slight univallate hillfort defined by a single rampart bank measuring up to 9.1m wide and 1.2m high with no clearly discernible outer ditch but evidence of artificially enhanced natural scarps. Within this enclosed area chance finds of Roman remains were made in 1837 and included a rotary quern, pottery and animal bones, whilst a possible building was identified. The more recent survey confirmed occupation of this date which suggested an Iron Age hillfort had been re-used as a settlement in the Romano-British period.
Also in the centre of the enclosed area are two circular mounds of similar size being 18m in diameter and up to 2m high. One has a buried quarry ditch and is a bowl barrow and the other which supports a concrete triangulation pillar is actually ‘Haresfield Beacon’ and has commanding views over the surrounding countryside.
To the east the outer limits of the area are defined by ‘The Bulwarks’ originally seen as the outer defences of a much larger hillfort but now thought to represent a cross dyke. These earthworks survive as a single bank of up to 13.7m wide and 2.1m high with a ditch of up to 12m wide and 2.1m deep. The upper area of the hill tops has also been subject to periodic quarrying.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- GC 43
- Legacy System:
- RSM - OCN
PastScape 114940, 114975, 114937 and 114989
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