Heale Hill round barrows and earthworks
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1005609
Date first listed: 06-Aug-1955
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: SU 11514 36652
Slight univallate hillfort and round barrow cemetery 935m west of Heale 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. Postholes revealed by excavation indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few examples. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. 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 rare and important for understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities. 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. Despite partial cultivation and partial tree cover the slight univallate hillfort and round barrow cemetery 935m west of Heale Farm survive comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, territorial, social and strategic significance, longevity, inter relationship, relative chronologies of the features within and where appropriate funerary and ritual practices, trade, agricultural practices, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 15 September 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 a slight univallate hillfort and round barrow cemetery situated on the summit and upper eastern slopes of a prominent ridge called Heale Hill with commanding views over two steeply sloping dry valleys and the valley of the River Avon. The hillfort survives as an oval enclosure measuring approximately 290m long by 210m wide internally and defined differentially throughout the circuit by a scarp of up to 2m high, a bank of from 1m up to 2.5m high, a wide buried outer ditch visible as a slight earthwork to the east and to the north west a low spread internal bank. To the south the defences have been incorporated into a modern field boundary. The hillfort has two roughly opposed entrances one is a simple gap but the other has an overlapping outwork. Within the enclosed area are at least eight round barrows forming part of a cemetery. These barrows survive as circular mounds surrounded by buried quarry ditches from which the construction material was derived. They mounds vary in size from 6m up to 12m in diameter and from 0.3m up to 0.9m high. Some of the smaller mounds may represent clearance cairns as a result of agricultural activity since the hillfort is surrounded by a field system part of which is scheduled separately. The hillfort has produced stray finds of Neolithic flints, which have led some to suggest it might even be an earlier prehistoric hillfort, although the exact date is not known with certainty.
Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity, some are scheduled separately but others are not included because they have not been formally assessed.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: WI 384
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape 218318 and 218324
Wiltshire HER SU13NW662, SU13NW663, SU13NW664, SU13NW665, SU13NW666, SU13NW667, SU13NW670, SU13NW671, SU13NW672 and SU13NW692
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