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Slight univallate hillfort and two ring cairns on the summit of Titterstone Clee 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: Slight univallate hillfort and two ring cairns on the summit of Titterstone Clee Hill

List entry Number: 1008391

Location

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

County:

District: Shropshire

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Bitterley

County:

District: Shropshire

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Stoke St. Milborough

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 05-Dec-1928

Date of most recent amendment: 17-May-1994

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 19139

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

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 to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth - fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 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 included timber or stone round houses; large storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. 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 and have potential for the recovery of further archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

The slight univallate hillfort on the summit of Titterstone Clee Hill survives well despite damage along the south side by quarrying. The rampart is unusual in its method of construction, making extensive use of drystone walling to create what remains today an impressive perimeter defence. The large size of the enclosed area, one of the largest hillfort interiors in Shropshire indicates that the site was of considerable importance during its life. Excavations have demonstrated that the monument still retains many internal features of different types which contain important information relating to the use of the site and the economy of its inhabitants. The two ring cairns which survive within the confines of the hillfort, though both disturbed, will also contain important archaeological information regarding the early land- use, settlement pattern, burial practice and social structure of the early inhabitants of the area. Environmental evidence relating to the landscape into which the various elements of the monument were constructed will survive sealed beneath the rampart and cairn mounds. Considered together and in their association with other monuments of a similar age which survive on the surrounding hills, the features of the hillfort contribute valuable information to our understanding of the early occupation of this area of upland.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the remains of a slight univallate hillfort, and two ring-cairns which occupy a strong defensive position on the rounded summit of Titterstone Clee Hill. The hill itself is an imposing landmark formed by a basalt intrusion in the Carboniferous period. The archaeological remains which survive on the summit of Titterstone Clee provide evidence that the site was in use as a focus of ritual activity in the Bronze Age. By the Early Iron Age it had become a centre for habitation and a system of defences encircling the hilltop had been constructed. These substantial stone walls continued to be developed and modified throughout the occupation of the site, the final phase being the construction of elaborate entrance gates. The hillfort has maximum dimensions of 770m east to west by some 450m north to south, enclosing an area of 28ha and making it one of the largest hillforts in Shropshire even though it has been damaged along its southern side by modern quarrying. Where the defences survive they follow the terrain and were designed to enhance the natural strategic advantages of the topography. The rampart today remains visible largely as a tumbled stone wall forming linear scree running around the north and east of the hill summit. These defences can be traced from the base of the Giant's Chair outcrop, at the western edge of the summit, north east as a stone and turf bank 3.5m wide and 0.4m high, with a tumbled swathe of angular dolerite blocks 8m wide on its outside. After 180m the defences turn to the south east and continue in a similar form for 470m with walling standing in places up to 1m high. In the angle formed between these two lengths of wall lies the original north entrance, it is 4m wide and is slightly inturned. Some 40m to the south west of this gateway a 20m length of the stone tumble has been cleared to expose the wall core. It is a well made drystone construction 2m wide and 0.8m high. Around the eastern end of the hill the rampart continues in similar fashion, up to 13m wide in places and standing up to 2m high on its interior face and 2.4m on its exterior. This section of the defences was investigated by O'Neil in 1934 and the excavation trenches remain clearly visible. The most northerly excavation trench, which cuts the wall at right angles, is visible as a linear intrusion 16.5m long by 3m wide and 1.2m deep. A second trench lies at right angles to the first, cut along the inner face of the rampart and measuring 11m long and 1.5m wide. Another clearly marked excavation trench 20m long by 2m wide lies in the eastern angle of the hillfort cutting through the original east entrance. From this point the rampart runs for 116m south west to where it is cut again by a cross-trench before ending on an old quarry face after another 70m. For most of the southern part of the enclosure the hill and defences have been removed by quarrying. However two short lengths of rampart do survive. At the most southern extremity of the site a 31m long length of stony bank crosses a ridge between two old quarry faces, this is considered a part of the original circuit of defences. It stands 0.5m high on its uphill north side and 1.7m high on its downhill side. A second length of tumbled walling 150m south from the OS trig pillar also represents these southern defences. It survives as a spread of angular stone 8m wide and 1m high orientated north west to south east and running from the southern foot of the Giant's Chair outcrop south east to end after 180m on an old quarry face. The 1934 excavations identified four phases of construction. In the first period a timber-revetted earth rampart was constructed with timber entrances. During period two the defences fell into disrepair and appeared to have been partly dismantled. Period three saw a rebuilding of the rampart in stone and a remodelling of the gateways, with the construction of two stone and timber guard chambers flanking the main south eastern entrance. There followed a period in which the fort continued to be inhabited but the defences fell into disrepair or were slighted. These phases can be dated by reference to dated features at other Marches hillforts to the period between the Late Bronze Age and the pre Roman Iron Age. In 1991, archaeological investigations were carried out to the east of the Civil Aviation Authority and Meteorological Office radar installations which demonstrated that the remains of walls and other features related to the occupation of the hillfort survive in its interior. Within the confines of the hillfort, in its western quarter on the highest point of the hill, are the remains of two cairns. The existence of the more northerly was first recorded by H H Lines in 1891 who described a cairn on the summit of Titterstone Clee 80 feet in diameter with exposed cists and surmounted by a modern OS triangulation cairn. Today this structure remains visible as a low stony mound 10m in diameter and 0.6m high, still surmounted by a modern OS trig pillar which is included within the scheduling. A portion of stony bank 3.5m wide and 0.5m high curves around the west side of the central mound. This may once have formed a complete circle 28m in diameter, however the whole eastern half of the circle has been removed. Loose stone piled against the inner edge of the bank in the north east quarter may represent the site of a cist. The remains suggest that it should be classed as a ring cairn, a comparatively rare type of cairn in Shropshire. Some 80m to the south east is a second cairn truncated along its south western edge by old linear surface quarrying, it survives as a flat topped and well defined mound 23m in diameter and 0.8m high. Turf-fast dolerite blocks protrude through the turf around the circumference of the mound to form a continuous stone kerb. O'Neil sectioned this structure in 1932 and describes it as a flat topped earthen circle comprising a ring of dolerite blocks packed in clay. Underlying the centre of the mound was a circular pit 1.3m in diameter, excavated 2.3m below the old ground surface. Today O'Neil's excavation trenches can be recognised as linear depressions 1m wide and 0.2m deep. One orientated north west to south east, the other projecting at right angles from this to the truncated southern edge of the mound. This monument also represents a ring cairn. Both cairns are believed to date to the Bronze Age. The radar installations, associated buildings and fences, all metalled surfaces and structures are excluded from the scheduling though the ground beneath each is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 10 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Cunliffe, B, Iron Age Communities in Britain, (1978), 5-9
Jones, A E, 'BUFAU report' in Titterstone Clee Hillfort Evaluation, (1991), 2-9
Jones, A E, 'BUFAU report' in Titterstone Clee Hillfort Evaluation, (1991), 5-9
Kenyon, K M, 'Archaeological Journal' in Excavations on The Wrekin, Shropshire, 1939, , Vol. 89, (1942), 99-109
Lines, H H, 'Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society' in Titterstone Camp and Others, , Vol. 3, (1891), 1-35
Musson, C R, 'Hillforts' in Excavations At The Breiddin, (1976), 293-300
O'Neil, B H S, 'Archaeologia Cambrensis' in Excavations At Titterstone Clee Hill Camp, , Vol. 89, (1934), 88-89
O'Neil, B H S, 'Archaeologia Cambrensis' in Excavations At Titterstone Clee Hill Camp, , Vol. 89, (1934), 83-111
O'Neil, B H S, 'Archaeologia Cambrensis' in Excavations at Fridd Faldwyn, , Vol. 97, (1939), 1-57

National Grid Reference: SO 59512 78036

Map

Map
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End of official listing