Multi-period landscape within the promontory fort on Nottingham Hill (known as Nottingham Hill Camp).
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 important for understanding of the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period.
Later Iron Age and Romano-British occupation occurred widely and included a range of settlement types. The surviving remains comprise farmsteads, hamlets, villages and hillforts, which together demonstrate an important sequence of settlement. The non-defensive enclosed farm or homestead represents the smallest and simplest of these types but they increase in size and complexity up to oppida. Most early examples are characterised by a curvilinear enclosure with round buildings, although these are sometimes superseded by rectilinear or triangular shaped enclosures with rectilinear buildings along with associated structures which may include wells, storage pits, corn-drying ovens and granary stores. Trackways and cemeteries may be located nearby. Excavation at these sites has shown a marked continuity with later prehistoric settlements.
Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They comprise closely-spaced groups of up to 30 round barrows - rubble or earthen mounds covering single or multiple burials. Most cemeteries developed over a considerable period of time, often many centuries, and in some cases acted as a focus for burials as late as the early medieval period. They exhibit considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form, frequently including several different types of round barrow, occasionally associated with earlier long barrows. Where large scale investigation has been undertaken around them, contemporary or later "flat" burials between the barrow mounds have often been revealed. Round barrow cemeteries occur across most of lowland Britain, with a marked concentration in Wessex. In some cases, they are clustered around other important contemporary monuments such as henges. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape, whilst their diversity and their longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period.
The promontory fort on Nottingham Hill appears to have a particularly strong strategic and territorial significance and despite some disturbance by quarrying will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to this and the construction and longevity of the hillfort, round barrow cemetery and the various types of settlement, their social organisation, longevity, ritual and funerary practices, domestic arrangements, agricultural practices, trade and overall landscape context.
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.
The monument includes a multi-period landscape within a promontory fort situated on a natural limestone plateau overlooking the wide valleys of the Dean and Langley Brooks. The narrow neck of the plateau is divided from the surrounding ground by a series of two defensive banks and ditches all surviving as prominent earthworks, although the medial ditch has been partially backfilled and re-used as a bridleway the remaining sides of the fort are defended by steep natural scarps.
Over the years surveys, aerial reconnaissance and chance finds have suggested the presence of a round barrow cemetery and settlements of various ages including Romano-British and Iron Age within the fort and documentary sources indicate its possible re-use in AD 769-85 as ‘Coccan Burh’ an Anglo-Saxon defended centre, mentioned in charters. Chance finds and magnetic surveys produced a late Bronze Age hoard, flint working debris and a cup and ring marked stone which all indicate probable multiple periods of prolonged occupation and all survive as buried structures, deposits and features.