Caynham Camp, a large univallate hillfort 700m north west of Caynham
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1010313
Date first listed: 01-Feb-1929
Date of most recent amendment: 27-Feb-1996
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: SO 54476 73692
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
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.
Caynham Camp large univallate hillfort survives well and is a fine example of its class. The earthworks are unusual in preserving visible evidence of refurbishment, expansion and subsequent secondary use of the site. The eastern entrance is also an exceptionally good example of an original inturned entrance which has survived with no apparent disturbance. The massive defences will contain important archaeological evidence concerning the method of construction together with evidence of the sequence of occupation. The interior, which has suffered minimal disturbance, will similarly contain evidence of occupation. Environmental material relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed and the economy of its inhabitants, will survive in the ditch fill and on the old land surface sealed beneath the ramparts.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes Caynham Camp, a large univallate hillfort, with an
annex, rectangular enclosure and building platform, situated on the summit of
a small spur at the western foot of the Clee Hill escarpment. The hillfort is
roughly oval in plan with maximum dimensions of 460m south west to north east
by 190m transversely and has a total enclosed area of approximately 4ha. The
defences are designed to take maximum advantage of the natural strength of the
hill and show three phases of construction.
The earliest phase is now the eastern compartment of the earthworks. Here
the defences include a substantial earth and stone rampart set on the upper
slopes of the hill to completely encircle its rounded summit. The rampart is
at its most massive at the eastern end of the enclosure, the most natural
approach to the site. Here it stands 4.1m high on its interior side and 5.5m
on its exterior. This is flanked by an outer plough-spread bank 20m wide and
1.4m high which curves around the hill roughly north west to south east for
80m, parallel to, and some 10m out from the base of, the main rampart. Though
this area has been disturbed in the past by cultivation, it is certain that a
ditch lies between this outer bank and the main rampart. At the south east
corner of the enclosure the outer bank ends. Here the main rampart is
interrupted by a good example of an original inturned entrance; the north and
south parts of the rampart curl inwards to form a narrow passage through the
defences 40m long and only 3m wide. Such inturned entrances were developed to
ensure that any approach to the interior of the site could be overlooked and
controlled from above. From the entrance westwards the ramparts continue in a
similar form with an average outer height in excess of 5m. They are flanked by
a ditch 4m wide with a well defined outer bank 10m wide and 1.5m high on its
outer edge. This outer bank continues along the full extent of the south side
of the hillfort before wrapping around the western end. However, although the
main rampart continues parallel to it there is a distinct change in its
character at a point 80m from the south west corner. From this point a cross
bank curves north to south across the hilltop for some 85m, rising to a height
of 1.8m on its eastern side and 3.6m on its west. Although this is now largely
unconnected with the south and north sides of the enclosure, it originally
represented the western end of the hillfort. This original circuit of defences
is continued around the north side of the enclosure by enhancing the already
precipitous natural slope of the hill with a rampart 0.8m high on its inward
facing side, though merging into the natural slope on its outward facing side.
The original enclosure therefore had interior dimensions of 250m south west to
At a later date the hillfort was extended to the west. The original southern
rampart was extended in a similar though less substantial form, averaging 3.4m
high on its outside and 2.1m on its inside. After 60m this rampart turns north
east to end on the edge of the steep north slope of the hill and form a
roughly rectangular, round cornered annex measuring 94m north west to south
east by 60m. Along its north side the natural slope has again been enhanced in
strength by the addition of a bank 1m high. Access from this area to the
(earlier) eastern part of the fort was provided by cutting through the
original rampart 24m from its southern end and at both terminals. There does
not appear to be any other access to the interior of the annex, with the
exception of a narrow, recent gap in the western bank, 22m south of the
north west corner. The lack of any external entrance in the annex indicates
that in this secondary phase the whole fort was in use as a single entity,
suggesting a refurbishment and expansion of the site.
There is no visible surface evidence of habitation in the interior of the
hillfort, which retains the domed topography of the natural hilltop. In the
north western part of the site there is a roughly oval platform which is
believed to represent the site of a silage store.
Beyond and below the west end of the hillfort is a second rectangular annex
formed by a bank averaging 2.1m high on its outside and 0.4m on its inside.
The bank abuts onto the outer face of the outer bank of the main enclosure
25m from the south west corner, runs for 40m south west, turns to the
north west at right angles and ends after 100m on the steep natural scarp in
the north. The enclosure so formed is rectangular in plan with internal
dimensions of 88m north west to south east by 38m transversely. A cut through
the bank, 20m south of the north west corner of the enclosure, may be an
original entrance. This much less imposing earthwork appears different in
character to the main earthworks and may be of a later date than the main
hillfort. Tradition links the hillfort with Cromwell's campaign against the
Royalist-held Ludlow Castle, stating that he used the hill as a camp from
which to launch his attack.
All fence lines falling within the area of the scheduling 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 5 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: 19160
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Hartshorne, , 'Salopia Antiqua' in Salopia Antiqua, (1841), 179,215
Annotation on record 6": 1 mile,
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