Iron Age defended settlement on Shenbarrow Hill.
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 some later buildings and partial excavation the Iron Age defended settlement on Shenbarrow Hill survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, longevity, trade, agricultural practices, social organisation, territorial significance, domestic arrangements 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 an Iron Age defended settlement situated on the upper south west facing slopes of a prominent ridge above a steep scarp forming part of the Cotswold Escarpment overlooking a tributary to the River Isbourne. The defended settlement survives as a roughly D-shaped enclosure defined by an inner and outer rampart bank and ditch which covers an area of approximately 1.9ha in total. The inner rampart bank is up to 9.1m wide and 1.5m high with a 7.6m wide and 1.2m deep outer bank. The outer rampart survives differentially and is best preserved as an earthwork to the north where the bank is up to 7.6m wide and 0.6m high with a 7.6m wide and 0.9m deep ditch. Elsewhere it is preserved as entirely buried features visible on aerial photographs as crop and soil marks. In places the steep natural scarp slopes are also utilised within the defences.
Partial excavations in 1935 revealed dry stone revetments on the faces of the ramparts and produced Iron Age and Romano-British pottery, fragments of iron and part of a rotary quern.