Wapley Hill large multivallate hillfort and pillow mounds 150m north of Warren House.
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
- Staunton on Arrow
- National Grid Reference:
- SO 34571 62465
Reasons for Designation
Large multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of between
5ha and 85ha in area, located on hills and defined by two or more lines of
concentric earthworks set at intervals of up to 15m. They date to the Iron
Age period, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC
and the mid-first century AD. They are generally regarded as centres of
permanent occupation, defended in response to increasing warfare, a reflection
of the power struggle between competing elites.
Earthworks usually consist of a rampart and ditch, although some only have
ramparts. Access to the interior is generally provided by two entrances
although examples with one and more than two have been noted. These may
comprise a single gap in the rampart, inturned or offset ramparts,
oblique approaches, guardrooms or outworks. Internal features generally
include evidence for intensive occupation, often in the form of oval or
circular houses. These display variations in size and are often clustered,
for example, along streets. Four- and six-post structures, interpreted as
raised granaries, also occur widely while a few sites appear to contain
evidence for temples. Other features associated with settlement include
platforms, paved areas, pits, gullies, fencelines, hearths and ovens.
Additional evidence, in the form of artefacts, suggests that industrial
activity such as bronze- and iron-working as well as pottery manufacture
occurred on many sites.
Large multivallate hillforts are rare with around 50 examples recorded
nationally. These occur mostly in two concentrations, in Wessex and the Welsh
Marches, although scattered examples occur elsewhere.
In view of the rarity of large multivallate hillforts and their importance in
understanding the nature of social organisation within the Iron Age period,
all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of
Wapley camp large multivallate hillfort survives well and is a good example of its class. The southern entrance is an exceptionally fine example of a complex inturned entrance which has survived with no apparent disturbance. The northern entrance is a similarly undisturbed example of an entrance at the change of slope. The substantial defences will contain valuable archaeological evidence concerning their method and sequence of construction and evidence relating to the occupation of the site. The interior, despite having been ploughed in the past and subsequently afforested, will contain evidence of occupation. Environmental material relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed and the economy of its inhabitants will be preserved in the ditch fills and on the old land surfaces sealed beneath the ramparts. Pillow mounds are one of the characteristic structures associated with medieval and post medieval rabbit warrens. They are low oblong-shaped mounds of soil and/or stones designed to provide breeding places and shelter for rabbits. They are usually between 15m and 40m in length and between 5m and 10m in width with rounded or squared ends. They are usually flat-topped and of a uniform height no higher than 0.7m. Most are ditched around at least three sides to facilitate drainage. Within the mounds there will be passages and chambers constructed to house the rabbit stock. In all cases the number of exits were restricted to facilitate close control of the rabbit population. The three pillow mounds within the hillfort at Wapley camp will contain archaeological evidence for their method of construction and age. They represent valuable evidence for the medieval agricultural reuse of the hilltop and will also preserve areas of the hillfort interior sealed beneath them which have not been disturbed by afforestation.
The monument includes Wapley camp, a large multivallate hillfort and three
pillow mounds occupying the west end of the summit of Wapley Hill. The
hillfort is roughly triangular in plan with rounded angles and has maximum
dimensions of 530m east to west by 270m north to south giving an enclosed area
of approximately 5.5ha. The natural topography of Wapley Hill includes
a precipitous scarp slope in the north, falling towards Hindwell Brook, with
more gentle slopes to the east and south. The hillfort defences are
constructed with regard to this topography, being at their most elaborate on
the north east and south sides.
The north east side is protected by a complex system of five ramparts of
varying height between 6m and 2m, the strongest being the innermost which
stands to a height of 6m on its outside and 2.1m on its inner. The three inner
ramparts have two medial ditches; between the third and fourth is a berm 20m
wide, between the fourth and fifth is a ditch and berm, and beyond the fifth
is an outer ditch. Around the south side there are only four ramparts of
similar proportions to those in the east and with medial ditches. To the east
of the entrance midway along this side there is a natural berm between the
second ditch and outer rampart. Around the west end of the hillfort the
defences are reduced to three ramparts with two medial ditches and an outer
ditch which gradually fade out towards the north west where the natural slopes
of the hill steepen. Around the north west side, the hillfort relies
predominantly on the natural strength of the hillslope for defence. However,
there is evidence of a slight outer ditch cut into the natural scarp, the
spoil from which has been thrown outwards to form a slight counterscarp bank.
This ditch has become largely infilled through the erosion of the scarp above.
There are four entrances through the defences, one at each corner of the
site and one in the south side. The main entrance lies midway along the south
side. Here the defences are interrupted by a fine example of a complex
inturned entrance. The outer rampart has been turned in on either side of the
entrance gap to form a long sunken approach to the inner rampart 40m long and
3m wide. The inner rampart has, in turn, been curved inwards on each side of
the opening to ensure that any approach to the interior of the site could be
overlooked and controlled from above. The entrance at the northern apex of the
site, where the artificial defences of the east side approach the natural
steep slopes on the north, also appears original. Here the outer ditches and
ramparts stop short of the scarp edge to form a causeway and the inner rampart
curves slightly inwards on the south side of the opening in characteristic
fashion. The entrances at the east and west corners of the site are simple
cuts through the defences and appear to be later adaptations. Within the
camp are three pillow-mounds. They lie orientated roughly east to west, one in
the south east corner of the enclosure, one in the south west corner and one
immediately inside and east of the south entrance. The west and south mounds
average 24m long by 8m wide and stand to a height of 0.7m. The easterly mound
is 38m long, 8m wide and 0.8m high. Each shows faint traces of a surrounding
ditch. They are associated with the rabbit warren on the hilltop; the names
`Warren House' and `The Warren', which appear on maps of the area, indicate
that the area has been used in the past for rabbit farming.
All fences are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is
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:
- Legacy System:
NAR record SO36SW14,
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