Wappenbury camp univallate hillfort and medieval settlement remains


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Warwick (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 37761 69244

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.

Although parts of the site have been modified (particularly by ploughing in the northern part of the site) Wappenbury camp survives well and is a good example of this class of monument. The interior will retain structural and artefactual evidence for the occupation of the hillfort and the rampart and ditch will retain archaeological information relating to the hillfort's construction. Partial excavation has indicated the presence of occupation deposits pre-dating the construction of Wappenbury camp and these will survive beneath the rampart. The medieval settlement remains will contain evidence of building plots and field and property boundaries; allowing an interpretation of its layout, function and date of its relationship to the Iron Age hillfort beneath.


The monument is situated along the northern bank of the River Leam within the village of Wappenbury and includes a univallate hillfort, the earthwork remains of part of a medieval settlement, and an area of ridge and furrow cultivation. Wappenbury camp occupies a prominent position on a natural knoll or plateau above the river channel. The location of the hillfort takes advantage of the natural scarp banks formed by both the River Leam and a tributary to the west of the site. The defensive earthworks of Wappenbury camp include intermittent traces of a single rampart and a ditch that has been mostly infilled. Along the northern edge of the site, the rampart is visible as a distinctive break in slope and is thought to have been levelled by ploughing. The associated ditch has become infilled but it can be traced as a slight depression and will survive as a buried feature. The western edge of the site is defined by a scarp bank, marking the location of a rampart which remains visible at the northern end of the scarp. A break in the western bank is thought to be part of a drainage channel. There is no clear evidence for a ditch along the western side of the hillfort. Along the southern edge of the hillfort the defences include the steep-sided scarp bank formed by the river channel and a rampart which can be traced along the crest of the bank, particularly to the west of Leam Bank Farm. The central part of the southern rampart has been modified by the construction of Leam Bank Farmhouse and its gardens and is not included within the area of the scheduling. The best-preserved section of the hillfort's defences is situated along the eastern edge of the site. The ditch is visible as a 8m wide depression. The rampart remains visible on the ground surface, but is thought to have been lowered during the medieval period, in connection with farming activities. In the north east part of the site the rampart has been modified by the road and the construction of a small pond, which is now dry. The infilled ditch will survive as a buried feature beneath the road. An excavation across the eastern defences indicated that the 12m wide rampart had been constructed of sand and gravel and was revetted in clay; the inner edge of the ditch is lined with clay. The rampart which is of later Iron Age date seals an earlier occupation layer which has also been dated to the Iron Age. Access to the interior of the hillfort is by means of an inturned entrance at the south west edge of the site. The entrance is approximately 10m wide. There are causeways across the northern and eastern defences, but these are considered to post-date the occupation of the hillfort. The defences enclose an area of approximately 8ha. The central part of the interior is intensively occupied by residential dwellings, two parish churches, agricultural buildings and gardens. The modern development is considered to have so modified the site in this area that it is not included within the area of the scheduling. Finds recovered from the site include quantities of Iron Age pottery fragments, a perforated stone hammer and a flint leaf arrowhead. Fragments of Roman pottery and kiln debris recovered from the ditch silts and from field drains indicate Roman activity in the vicinity of the site during the third and fourth centuries AD. Within the eastern part of the hillfort's interior are the remains of part of a medieval settlement. The rampart of Wappenbury camp defines the eastern boundary of the settlement. The earthwork remains of the settlement include two house platforms which have been built alongside the inner edge of the rampart and a third platform to the north west. A hollow way is visible as a shallow depression running east-west adjacent to the southern house platform. A second hollow way, which is now a surfaced lane, is situated to the east of St John the Baptist's Church. The eastern part of this hollow way survives as a distinctive earthwork within the garden of Rivermede. This section of the hollow way is included in the scheduling. The settlement remains provide evidence for the reoccupation of the site during the medieval period. Approximately 20m east of the hillfort's defences are the earthwork remains of ridge and furrow cultivation. The ridge and furrow runs east-west and its associated headland is visible running parallel to the eastern rampart. The ridge and furrow is visible extending eastwards as far as the eastern field boundary. A sample area of the field systems, adjacent to the rampart and 10m wide, is included in the scheduling to preserve the stratigraphic relationships both between the ridge and furrow and the settlement and between the ridge and furrow and the underlying earlier remains. The brick building at the eastern edge of Wappenbury camp, the garage within the grounds of St Anne's Chapel, and Rivermede and its garage which are all situated in the south east part of the site are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath these features is included; the surfaces of the paths, driveways and roads at the site, all fence posts, street furniture, inspection chambers, modern walling and a telephone box are also excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath all these features 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.


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

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Books and journals
RCHME, , Wappenbury Camp, (1967)
Stanley, M, B, , 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in The Defences of the Iron Age Camp at Wappenbury, , Vol. 76, (1958), 3
Stanley, M, B, , 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in The Defences of the Iron Age Camp at Wappenbury, , Vol. 76, (1958), 1-9
Stanley, M, B, , 'Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society' in The Defences of the Iron Age Camp at Wappenbury, , Vol. 76, (1958), 9


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

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