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


Ordnance survey map of Caynham Camp, a large univallate hillfort 700m north west of Caynham
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Caynham

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 north east. 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,

End of official listing