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
The small multivallate hillfort on Cadbury Hill survives well and contains
archaeological and environmental information relating to the monument and the
landscape in which it was constructed and later re-used. This is one of a
number of well-preserved hillforts surviving in the area. Together, these
will provide a detailed insight into Iron Age society in this area, its
economy and political structure.
The monument includes a small multivallate hillfort situated on the summit of
Cadbury Hill, a natural and commanding ridge which separates the Gordano
Valley from the Somerset Levels.
The hillfort has a level sub-circular interior 190m north-south by 160m east-
west, surrounded by a double set of ramparts c.26.5m across. The internal
ditch is c.2m deep and the internal bank is c.2m high; together these
earthworks are c.18m wide. The external rampart is c.1.5m high and the ditch
is c.2m deep; the joint width of these earthworks is c.8.5m. The banks are
composed of small stones, quarried from the ditches.
There are three entrances into the hillfort but only the northern example is
likely to be original.
Partial excavation of the site by St George Gray in 1922 revealed the presence
of Iron Age and Romano-British artefacts from the interior of the hillfort.
Additional finds from the site have included Neolithic flint work, a Bronze
Age axe, late Roman coin hoards, a quern stone, part of a possible Roman altar
of Mars and a brass of Claudius Gothicus.
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.