Kenwalch's Castle: a large univallate hillfort on Pen Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1008257.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 01-Dec-2021 at 12:09:35.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Stourton with Gasper
South Somerset (District Authority)
Charlton Musgrove
National Grid Reference:
ST 74777 33536

Reasons for Designation

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen. The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by outworks. Internal features often include round-houses as well as small rectangular and square structures supported by four to six postholes and interpreted as raised granaries. When excavated, the interior areas exhibit a high density of features, including post- and stakeholes, gullies, floors, pits, hearths and roads. Large univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north. Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of national importance.

Kenwalch's Castle survives as a good example of its class and will preserve archaeological evidence relating to its construction, occupation and use of the surrounding area. Waterlogged deposits may be present in the ditch on the west.


The monument includes a large univallate hillfort situated on the north end of a ridge in the hills of the Somerset/Wiltshire border. The fort has an internal area of 1.6ha and is sub-rectangular in shape, drawing to a point on the north - a plan determined by the natural contours of the hill. The earthworks consist of a bank and external ditch or terrace. They are most massive on the south against the rising ground, with the bank up to 2m high and the ditch 2m deep outside it. On the north tip the bank is 0.5m high within a ditch 2m deep. The west and east sides make use of the natural slope to form a drop of 2m-3m from a bank 0.5m high to a ditch 0.5m deep. Along much of the steep west side the ditch becomes a broad terrace 3m-4m wide. The original entrances to the fort are likely to have been in the centre of the north and south sides, at which points today a minor road enclosed by banks now runs through. The present gaps are wider than the road, suggesting a former trackway along the ridge with a broader course. There is a second gap on the NNW adjacent to that through which the road runs, and this may be the original entrance gap. An entrance in the south-west corner of the fort is unlikely to be original and probably relates to the creation of a track running through it, around the inside of the rampart, and through the NNW gap parallel to the road. This track at some points runs along a slight terrace inside the ramparts. There is also a small gap in the bank on the south-east. Excluded from scheduling is the road surface, though the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Burrow, I, Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in Somerset, (1981), 239


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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].