Flower's Barrow: a small multivallate hillfort and associated outwork on Rings Hill
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Purbeck (District Authority)
- East Lulworth
- Purbeck (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SY 86455 80595
Reasons for Designation
Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are
defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set
earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the
interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or
more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been
constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first
century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements
of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest
that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with
display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a
rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks
and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by
one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or
inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists
of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures
interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety
of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of
small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a
similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples
recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west
with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the
rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding
the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period,
all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of
Despite a third of the hillfort having been removed by coastal erosion, the small multivallate hillfort known as Flower's Barrow survives well and is a good example of its class. The monument is known from limited excavations to contain archaeological remains both within the ramparts and in the interior; environmental evidence will also survive relating to the economy of the site's inhabitants and the landscape in which they lived.
The monument includes a small multivallate hillfort and an associated earthen
outwork, situated on the cliff edge at the extreme western end of the Purbeck
Hills. The ground around the hillfort falls away sharply to the west, north
and south east, but only gently along the ridge to the east where, c.160m
away, the associated outwork comprising an earthen bank and ditch is situated.
The hillfort, the southern third of which has been removed by coastal erosion,
has an internal area of c.2.64 ha. This was originally surrounded by two
banks and associated ditches, each with a counterscarp beyond; these ramparts
now only survive to the north, east and west giving the present extent of the
hillfort a total area of 6.76ha.
The original entrance to the interior of the hillfort is in its south east
corner. Within the interior, a number of elliptical platforms can be seen,
especially in the north east quadrant. These are thought to represent house
platforms associated with the occupation of the site.
The ramparts which define the interior, comprise inner and outer banks with
associated ditches and a counterscarp beyond. The internal rampart is 1.5m
above the floor of its inner quarry ditch, and 9m above the level of its
external ditch. The outer bank is scarcely more than a scarp on the steep
northern slope, but rises to 2.5m high on the level ground to the east. The
counterscarp is 2m high. On the north side of the hillfort, the ramparts are
all adjacent and run parallel with a maximum width of 60m. To the west and
east, however, the two ramparts separate to create annexes containing level
ground. The annexe on the east side of the hillfort also contains a linear
earthwork which follows the alignment of the rampart. The total width of the
ramparts and enclosed annexes in these areas extends to a maximum of 110m. It
is possible that the areas were used for stock control.
Beyond the hillfort to the east is an outwork comprising an earthen bank and
ditch which runs parallel to the eastern rampart for a distance of c.90m. The
bank survives to a height of c.0.75m while the ditch is c.1m deep and 5m
across. This feature is believed to be associated with the hillfort's
defences, acting as an additional rampart on the fort's more vulnerable
eastern side. It may, however, have its origins as a Bronze Age cross-dyke
which was subsequently reused to strengthen the defence of the hillfort.
Limited excavations of the site produced, in the early 19th century, a human
skeleton, said to be of abnormal length, from beneath the inner rampart, and
in 1939, a pit within the entrance containing bone refuse, sling stones and 60
sherds of Iron age pottery.
The post and wire fences and yellow painted wooden posts which demarcate the
footpath, the wooden styles, the wooden and metal posts bearing warning
notices, the post and wire protective fences, the antiquity stars signs, the
stone marker in the eastern entrance, the wooden fire stand and the concrete
structure to the south of the entrance between the inner and outer ditches are
all excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Pennie, J F, A Tale of Modern Genius, (1827)
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , County of Dorset , (1970)
Pagination 44, Calkin, J B, (1948)
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