Hillfort on Roddenbury Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008804

Date first listed: 11-Jun-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Aug-1994


Ordnance survey map of Hillfort on Roddenbury Hill
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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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 - 1008804 .pdf

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

County: Somerset

District: Mendip (District Authority)

Parish: Selwood

National Grid Reference: ST 79782 43925

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 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. 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 remains are believed to be of national importance.

Roddenbury fort survives as a good example of the smaller size range of its class, despite some disturbance from the sand digging.


The monument includes a univallate hillfort on the western tip of Roddenbury Hill. The fort is curvilinear in shape, forming a round-cornered triangle, with one side facing the hill to the east and the other sides running around the natural contour behind this, enclosing 0.84ha. The defences across the ridge are the most massive, consisting of a bank up to 1.6m high internally and an external ditch up to 1.8m deep, creating a drop of c.3m from the bank into the ditch. The remaining sides of the fort consist of a bank up to c.0.4m high, absent in places, and a drop of up to 1.8m to a broad outer terrace up to 10m wide. On the south east the terrace develops from the eastern ditch, but on the north east there is a gap between the two. The defences on the south west have been disturbed by sand quarrying, probably in the 19th century. The entrance to the interior of the fort is on the east on the top of the ridge, and consists of a broad, level causeway across the ditch and a corresponding gap in the ramparts. The tip of the rampart on the south of this gap is slightly inturned. The interior of the fort, like the rest of the hilltop, is covered with shallow hollows from small scale sand diggings, but much of the original ground surface remains.

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: 24020

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing