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

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

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

List entry Number: 1008257


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.


District: Wiltshire

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Stourton with Gasper

County: Somerset

District: South Somerset

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Charlton Musgrove

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 20-Oct-1954

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Apr-1994

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 24019

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 archaeo1ogical 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.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


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.

Selected Sources

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

National Grid Reference: ST 74777 33536


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This copy shows the entry on 16-Aug-2018 at 07:24:36.

End of official listing