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. In view of the rarity of slight
univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition
between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive
comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further
archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.
Castle Ring slight univallate hillfort survives reasonably well and is an
instructive example of this class of earthwork showing the development of a
circuit of defences based on early cross-ridge dykes. Although ploughing of
the interior has disturbed surface deposits, remains below plough depth and
features cut into the bedrock will contain archaeological evidence relating to
the occupation of the site.
The perimeter banks and ditches will also preserve archaeological information
and environmental evidence relating to the landscape in which the monument was
constructed and the economy of the prehistoric community who inhabited the
site. It is one of several associated monuments of a similar age which survive
on this area of upland. Considered as such, the monument contributes valuable
information concerning changes in land use and settlement pattern during the
Late Iron Age and Early Bronze Age.
The monument includes the remains of a slight univallate hillfort, which
incorporates a series of cross dykes, situated at the junction of a west
spur and south spur at the south west end of Stitt Hill. The hillfort is
roughly triangular in plan with maximum dimensions of 160m east to west by
170m north to south and has an enclosed area of just over 1ha. The defences
have developed from a series of cross dykes, cutting across natural spurs,
into a near-continuous enclosure. The scale of the defences takes account of
the natural topography so that, whilst the northern side of the site is
defended by a strong cross dyke type rampart, the south side depends heavily
on the natural steepness of the hillslope.
The northern rampart is designed to protect the site from the natural
approach along the hilltop to the north. It comprises a well defined earthen
bank up to 10m wide and 1.2m high on its internal south side, which stands
2.4m on its external (north) side above the bottom of a broad bottomed ditch
5m wide and 0.9m deep. A vestigial counter scarp bank 0.3m high runs along
the outer edge of the ditch along most of its length. At its western extent
the ditch has the form of several shallow scoops which may indicate its
method of construction. This substantial bank and ditch cuts east to west
across the hilltop, curving at either end before fading out in the west on a
steepening natural slope and in the east at a simple entrance 12m wide.
Running south west from this entrance the natural slope has been cut back to
form a steepened slope or scarp 4m high. At the top of this scarp a terraced
way 2m wide has been cut into the hilltop creating a parallel scarp 1.2m
high. The terrace passes out through the original entrance in the north east
and runs on along the ridge top to the south west.
The southern corner of the hillfort is bounded by three short parallel banks
and ditches averaging 1m high and 0.6m deep respectively. These short cross
dykes cut north west to south east across the narrow spur and are designed
to block any approach from the south. The western spur has a similarly
positioned cross dyke. It lies some 90m west of the main enclosure and
includes a low bank and ditch 27m long, north to south, with an overall
width of 14m and standing up to 1.2m high. The remaining south west portion
of the enclosure appears to have no artificial defence, relying instead on
the natural steepness of the slopes at the head of a small valley. All
modern boundary features are excluded from the scheduling although the
ground beneath them is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.