Reasons for Designation
The saucer barrow represents the earliest known evidence for human activity on
the common. Saucer barrows are funerary monuments of the Early Bronze Age,
most examples dating to between 1800 and 200 BC. They occur either in
isolation or in barrow cemeteries (closely spaced groups of barrows). They
were constructed as a circular area of level ground defined by a bank and
internal ditch and largely occupied by a low, squat mound covering one or more
burials, usually in a pit. The burials, either inhumations or cremations, are
sometimes accompanied by pottery vessels, tools and personal ornaments. Saucer
barrows are one of the rarest recognised forms of round barrow, with about 60
examples known nationally, most of which are in Wessex. The presence of grave
goods within the barrow provides important evidence for chronological and
cultural links amongst prehistoric communities over a wide area of southern
England as well as providing an insight into their beliefs and social
organisation. As a rare and fragile form of round barrow, all identified
saucer barrows would normally be considered to be of national importance.
The Iron Age occupation of the common is represented by the hillfort and its
associated avenues and earthworks, and the regular aggregate field system.
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 between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth -
fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for between 150 and 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 include square or rectangular buildings supported
by four or six posts and interpreted as raised granaries, timber or stone
round houses, large storage pits and hearths as well as scattered post holes,
stakeholes and gullies. 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 are likely to be of national importance.
Regular aggregate field systems consist of two or more enclosed units of land
set aside for cultivation and/or pasture, defined by boundaries laid out in a
consistent manner along two axes set at right angles to one another. The
systems cover between 1ha and 100ha and the individual fields vary in size
from 0.1ha to 3.2ha. A similar diversity exists in field shape which can be
square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal. These field
systems have a long period of construction, from the Early Bronze Age to the
end of the fifth century AD; they are known to occur in association with some
The earthworks on Walton Common represent a rare combination of a Bronze Age
saucer barrow, a hillfort which was later reused, along with a wide range of
associated features such as avenues and a field system. All of these features
will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the
monument and the landscape in which it was constructed and will contribute
to our understanding of later prehistoric activity in this area.
The monument includes a slight univallate hillfort, two avenues, a saucer
barrow, a regular aggregate field system and associated earthworks on Walton
Common a plateau situated on a carboniferous limestone ridge overlooking an
area of Levels to the south.
The slight univallate hillfort is situated at the west end of the site, and is
approached from the east and west by two avenues. The hillfort has a sub-oval
level interior, with maximum dimensions of 100m from east to west and 90m from
north to south, defined by a single rampart consisting of a rubble-built bank
surrounded by an external ditch from which material was quarried during its
construction. The bank is 3.5m wide, the ditch 2.5m wide and the top of the
bank is c.0.75m higher than the base of the ditch. The quarry ditch was cut in
a series of segments on the south western side of the monument, but appears as
a continuous trench on the remaining sides. There are two entrances to the
hillfort, on the south western and north eastern sides. Both entrances are 5m
wide and are each associated with one of the two avenues.
Aligned on the south western entrance is an avenue which runs for 10m towards
the south west. This avenue has two parallel banks which are spaced 5m apart
and are 10m long and c.0.3m high; both are associated with external quarry
ditches 1.5m wide and c.0.4m deep.
The north eastern entrance of the hillfort is associated with an avenue which
runs north east for 150m. This avenue has two parallel rubble-built banks
spaced 10m apart; both banks are 1.5m wide and both are associated with
external quarry ditches 1.5m wide. The banks of the avenue are 0.4m-0.6m
higher than the base of the ditch. There is a gap between the western end of
the avenue and the hillfort's bank; as this is flanked by a quarry on either
side, it gives the approach to the entrance of the hillfort the false
appearance of a raised causeway.
Also to the east of the hillfort are two cross banks and ditches, one of
which runs across the eastern avenue at right angles approximately two thirds
along its length; the other is at the eastern end of this avenue. Both have
similar dimensions to the main earthwork features of the avenue. The eastern
cross bank and ditch is the larger. This is orientated north west to south
east and runs for a length of 100m. There is an entrance in the feature which
corresponds with the eastern entrance to the avenue.
These related features are interpreted as an early slight univallate hillfort
which was later modified by the construction of the associated avenues and
earthworks, probably for reuse as a stock enclosure.
To the south east of the main hillfort is a three sided earthwork which may
represent a second, partially completed enclosure. This has a rubble-built
bank 1.5m wide associated with an external ditch 2m wide. The bank is c.1m
higher than the base of the ditch.
To the north of the eastern end of the eastern avenue and situated on level
ground, is a saucer barrow which represents the earliest evidence for human
activity on the common. This has a raised internal area defined by an external
bank 1.5m wide and up to 0.5m high and internal ditch 1.5m wide from which
material was quarried during the construction of the monument. This has become
infilled over the years but survives as a buried feature.
To the north east of the hillfort and its associated avenues lies a regular
aggregate field system. This has rubble built banks 2m wide and up to 0.45m
high which define at least 12 rectangular plots of land with average
dimensions of 22m by 60m. This field system is broadly contemporary with the
hillfort and may be representative of Iron Age landuse. The open ended
fields may indicate an arable rather than pastoral use, although hurdling
could have been employed to control stock movement.
Excluded from the scheduling are all fence posts relating to the field
boundaries, although the underlying ground is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.