Stonea Camp: a multivallate hillfort at Latches Fen


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2020. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1012539.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 07-Jul-2020 at 13:49:25.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Fenland (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 44787 93106

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 national importance.

Stonea Camp is one of only three such sites known to survive in Cambridgeshire and, although altered by ploughing and localised quarrying, the monument retains considerable archaeological potential with the preservation of cut features in the interior, buried soils beneath the banks and silts within the ditches. The ditches and banks have been shown by partial excavation to contain evidence (including human remains) pertaining to the contemporary use of the site. Because of the low-lying situation (unusual for this monument type) the ditches also contain conditions for the preservation of waterlogged deposits, dating to the Iron Age, from which artefacts in organic materials and data enabling reconstruction of the Prehistoric environment may be recovered.


The monument includes a multivallate hillfort situated on a low promontory at the southern end of the island of Stonea overlooking Latches Fen. In terms of recent history, the defences survived as earthworks under grass until the early 1950s and are well recorded on maps and published descriptions. By 1959 partial infilling of the ditches had taken place and the monument had been brought under plough. Small-scale excavations in 1959, 1980 and 1990 revealed that the ditches survived as buried features and that the silts which had accumulated in them over the years prior to their infilling were well preserved. The most recent investigations recovered human remains in the fills of the ditches. In 1990 a change of tenancy enabled the owners to take most of the monument out of cultivation and early in 1991 a programme of restoration took place: the modern material which had been used to infill the ditches was excavated in a controlled manner, so as not to disturb even those silts which had accumulated up to the 19th century, and used to reconstruct the banks, so that the appearance of the monument is much as it was in the 1940s. Where the banks were reconstituted, a membrane was laid over the original ground surface to provide a barrier between in situ and restored deposits. The hillfort covers an area of 450m north-south by 400m east-west. Although partially damaged by a modern quarry measuring 80m by 60m near the south- eastern corner of the monument and despite several years of cultivation, a large area of the interior contains evidence relating to the use of the site in the Iron Age, surface collection of finds in this area having recovered late Iron Age and early Roman pottery. The defences were constructed in at least three stages. The first stage comprised a single ditch and inner bank. Only the south-western arm of this rampart is recorded because its north- eastern arm is thought to have been modified during the construction of the third phase rampart; it is estimated that this first stage of the defences enclosed a relatively small area measuring 270m by 180m. Except for a length of reconstructed bank and ditch at its eastern end, the rampart survives as a buried feature. The second stage also comprised a single bank and ditch but was much larger, defining the maximum known extent of the monument. The south-western arm is relatively straight, following the 2m contour at the foot of the higher ground and running parallel to the line of the earlier enclosure. With the exception of a 30m length at the south-eastern end, which is visible as a cropmark, this arm has been reconstructed as an outer ditch 5m wide by 0.5m deep with an inner bank 5m wide by 0.5m high. The north-western end of this arm is truncated by a modern quarry, now flooded. The curving western arm lies in an adjacent field and is visible as a slight bank of gravelly soil; it has not been restored. Early maps record two gaps in the rampart, one adjacent to the modern quarry and at least 30m wide, whilst a second, smaller gap was only 5m wide. The northern and north-eastern arms are fairly straight, measuring 110m and 225m respectively; all but a 25m stretch at the western end of the northern arm has been reconstructed to give a ditch 7m wide by 1m deep and a bank, totally consisting of modern material, 7m wide by 1.5m high. Just outside the junction of the north-eastern and eastern arms was a 14th century farmhouse known as The Stitches; the buildings are now demolished without trace. The eastern arm comprises a ditch 4-7m wide which is original and has not been altered by reconstruction, although where the northern part of this arm protrudes into the adjacent field, by up to 10m, it is infilled and may be observed as a slight hollow containing darker soil. The third stage of the defences comprises a curved double rampart which runs over the crest of the promontory to form a D-shaped enclosure with the south- western arm of the second stage rampart serving as the spine of the D. This is the best preserved of the three ramparts in that the original bank survives in places. The ditch of the inner rampart survives as an open feature 7m wide by about 1m deep, while the bank has been reconstituted over most of its length and is now up to 10m wide by 0.5m to 1.5m high. A gap in the bank and ditch, 80m from the south-eastern end, is thought to be a relatively modern alteration to provide access to a large quarry pit which lies within, while at its western end the ditch joins the smaller flooded quarry. The outer rampart is shorter than the inner and on the eastern side is effectively formed by the second stage rampart. The rampart comprises a ditch 5m wide by 1m deep and a bank of similar width 1.5m high; the rampart has been reconstructed over about four-fifths of its length except at the western end where part of the earthwork is original and a further part survives below ground. To allow vehicular access across the third stage defences, two 5m wide gaps have been left in the reconstructed ramparts. A line of electricity pylons at the eastern side of the monument and all fences are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath 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.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Philips, C W, The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire, (1948)
Malim, T., Discussion with the project director, (1991)
Potter, T.W., Excavations at Stonea Camp (unpublished draft in SMR File 06033),
Title: Ordnance Survey 25" Series Source Date: 1902 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].