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
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Mendip (District Authority)
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
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
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