Slight univallate hillfort 80m east of Old Downton Cottage.


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011019

Date first listed: 25-Jun-1935

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Mar-1995


Ordnance survey map of Slight univallate hillfort 80m east of Old Downton Cottage.
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Downton

National Grid Reference: SO 42906 73104


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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.

The slight univallate hillfort 80m east of Old Downton Cottage survives well and is a good example of its class. The defences will contain valuable archaeological evidence concerning the method of construction and period of occupation. The interior of the hillfort appears to be undisturbed and will retain evidence of occupation. Environmental material relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed and to the economy of the inhabitants of the hillfort will be preserved in the ditch fill and sealed beneath the rampart. Such monuments when considered either in isolation or in association with other monuments in the area of a similar period contribute valuable information relating to the settlement pattern of the countryside during the Iron Age.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a slight univallate hillfort situated on the summit of a small promontory immediately above and west of the River Teme. The enclosure is roughly triangular in plan with overall dimensions of 70m north west to south east by 64m south west to north east. The defences are designed to make maximum use of the natural defensive strength of the position. Along the south east side of the promontory the ground slopes steeply towards a rock cliff which drops vertically to the river, making any artificial defences unnecessary around this side of the site. An overgrown terrace runs along the edge of the cliff from the sunken road to the west. It is truncated by quarry activity 110m from the road, ending on the vertical cliff face. It does not appear to be part of the hillfort defences and is believed to be the remains of a trackway linking the road in the west and a fording place at Bow Bridge. The length of terrace adjacent to the hillfort is included in the scheduling to preserve the stratigraphic relationship between the two.

Around the west side of the enclosure, where it is overlooked by the rising ground to the west, the man-made defences are at their most massive. They include a substantial rampart of earth and stone rubble construction 12m wide, averaging 2m high on its internal face and 3.5m high on its outer face. A substantial outer ditch 10m wide and between 1m and 2m deep flanks the west side of the rampart. Around the north east side, where the natural slope of the hill falls to the north east, the rampart becomes less massive, reducing to between 7m and 10m wide and 1m high on its internal face, 2m on its outer. The outer ditch similarly fades around this side becoming a faint berm 6m wide. There is a simple entrance 4m wide at the northern corner of the enclosure. Both rampart and ditch end 25m from the cliff edge at the east corner of the site.

The area of the hill to the immediate north east of the enclosure, where the hillslope falls with increasing steepness towards the river valley, was previously included within the scheduling. Reappraisal of this hillside indicates that, although the nature of the slope is significant to the positioning of the enclosure, the area contains no known archaeological features associated with the enclosure.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 19177

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing