Giant's Grave (Martinsell Hill)
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1005696
Date first listed: 26-Jun-1924
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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 16637 63239
Promontory fort called Giant’s Grave 665m south-east of Rainscombe Farm.
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 rare and important for understanding of the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period. Despite some quarrying and animal burrowing the promontory fort called Giant’s Grave 665m south-east of Rainscombe Farm survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, longevity, territorial, strategic, economic and social significance, agricultural practices, trade, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 June 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. As such they do not yet have the full descriptions of their modernised counterparts available. Please contact us if you would like further information.
This monument includes a promontory fort situated on the summit of an extremely narrow and steeply sloping ridge called Martinshell Hill overlooking the Vale of Pewsey. The promontory fort survives as a triangular enclosed area of approximately 1.7ha defined to the east by a single rampart bank measuring up to 18m wide and 3m high with a partially buried ditch of up 10m wide and a counterscarp bank of 1.2m high and elsewhere by a slight outer rampart bank augmenting the steep natural slopes. The interior measures approximately 170m long by 83m wide at the maximum. Some Iron Age pottery has been discovered in the vicinity. The interior has been partly disturbed by later quarrying activity and animal burrowing but the ramparts have been restored successfully.
A further possible outwork to the north east is not included in the scheduling because it has not been formally assessed.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: WI 33
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Wiltshire HER SU16SE200
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