Slight univallate hillfort and two bowl barrows 730m east of Gaby’s Clay Barn.
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 In view understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities. 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. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period. Much is already known about the slight univallate hillfort and two bowl barrows 730m east of Gaby’s Clay Barn but they will retain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, longevity, relative chronologies, social organisation, territorial and strategic significance, funerary practices, domestic arrangements, agricultural practices 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 slight univallate hillfort and two bowl barrows situated on the summit of a prominent spur which forms part of the chalk escarpment. The slight univallate hillfort survives as a triangular central area enclosed by a single rampart, ditch and counterscarp bank which survives differentially throughout the circuit. The main defences are to the east since the steep natural slopes augment the defences to the north and south and it is on this side where the rampart attains its maximum height of 3m and the counterscarp bank is up to 0.6m high. The enclosed area is approximately 1.6ha. In the south western corner of the hillfort are two bowl barrows which survive as circular mounds of 10.9m and 10m in diameter that stand between 1m and 1.5m high and are both surrounded by buried quarry ditches from which the construction material was derived. The hillfort and the barrows were excavated by BH and ME Cunnington in 1907. The hillfort dated to the Early Iron Age but hearths beneath the ramparts indicated Bronze Age settlement had preceded its foundation. Romano-British pottery, antler and animal bone were amongst other finds which indicated a prolonged occupation. The bowl barrows were also examined one had no primary interment but produced flints, Bronze Age and Romano-British pottery. In 1928 the same barrow also produced an inverted urn and cremation close to its edge. The second barrow did produce a primary cremation with an incense cup and perforated conical button and secondary urn burials. A further secondary urn burial was found during excavations in 1977 and this work also located flint flakes, cremated bone and additional pottery and indicated that the barrows had at one time been incorporated into the outer rampart of the hillfort. The hillfort is known locally as ‘Oliver’s Castle’ and it falls within the Registered Battlefield of the Battle of Roundway Down (13th July 1643). This English Civil War battle saw the Parliamentarian forces defeated and during the ensuing rout many rode over the 300ft (91m) cliff drop at Oliver’s Castle, where presumably many were killed because it was later re-named Bloody Ditch.