Multiple enclosure hillfort on Coxall Knoll


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014107

Date first listed: 03-Sep-1935

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Aug-1996


Ordnance survey map of Multiple enclosure hillfort on Coxall Knoll
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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: Buckton and Coxall

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Bucknell

National Grid Reference: SO 36595 73437


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

Reasons for Designation

Multiple enclosure forts comprise an inner and one or more outer enclosed areas, together measuring up to c.10ha, and defined by sub-circular or sub- rectangular earthworks spaced at intervals which exceed 15m; the inner enclosure is usually entirely surrounded by a bank and ditch. The forts date mainly to the Late Iron Age (350 BC-c.AD 50) and in England usually occur in the south west. Most are sited on hillslopes overlooked by higher ground near a water supply, and many were apparently used for periods of up to 250 years. The outer enclosures of the forts are usually interpreted as areas set aside for the containment of livestock, whilst the inner enclosures are generally thought to have been the focus of occupation. The earthworks usually include a bank with an outer V-shaped ditch 1m-3m deep. Entrances are generally single gaps through each line of defence, often aligned to create a passage from the outer to the inner enclosure, although there are a few examples where entrances through successive earthworks are not in alignment. Occasionally the interval between the gaps is marked by inturned ramparts or low banks and ditches, while the outer entrance may be screened by a short length of earthwork. Excavations within the inner enclosures have revealed a range of buildings and structures, including circular structures, hearths, ovens and cobbled surfaces as well as occasional small pits and large depressions which may have functioned as watering holes. Multiple enclosure forts are relatively rare with only around 75 examples recorded in England, mostly in Devon and Cornwall. Outside these counties their distribution becomes increasingly scattered and the form and construction methods more varied. They are important for the study of settlement and stock management in the later prehistoric period, and most well-preserved examples will be identified as being of national importance.

Coxall Knoll is a well preserved example of a class of monument which is rare in this part of the country. Its extent and design are easily discernible despite its well-established tree cover. The western entrance is a good example of an inturned entrance which has suffered no apparent disturbance. The earthen banks will retain evidence of their method of construction which may include post holes for revetments or internal structures built in conjuction with the enhancement of the natural slopes. The interior of the hillfort will contain evidence for occupation and other activities, including post holes for buildings, hearths, and storage or rubbish pits. Different activities may characterise each of the enclosures, and indications of agricultural or industrial activities will contribute to our understanding of the technology and economy of the Iron Age population. The ditch fills will retain environmental evidence relating to these activities, and to the landscape in which the hillfort was constructed, as will the buried land surface sealed beneath the earthen banks. Organic remains will survive in the waterlogged sections of ditch. The junctions between the scarps and banks surrounding the different enclosures will contain information relating to their development, which may involve more than one phase of construction. The relationship of the outlying earthworks to the main body of the hillfort will further enhance our understanding of this development. When viewed in association with other hillforts in the region, Coxall Knoll contributes to our knowledge of the demography and social organisation of the Iron Age in western Britain. Although the monument is somewhat obscured from view by trees, the Knoll itself is a highly visible landmark from both Shropshire to the north and Herefordshire to the south. A footpath runs along its lower slope to the north.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a large multiple enclosure hillfort on Coxall Knoll, situated on the summit of a natural outcrop some 100m above the River Redlake to the north, and the Teme to the south. The hillfort has three enclosures and is roughly oval in plan, with maximum dimensions of 570m east to west, and 200m north to south. Its defences are designed to take advantage of the naturally steep slopes of the knoll, and consist of a series of artificially steepened scarps in the hillside, topped with earthen banks following the contours of the hill. The main enclosure occupies the summit of the knoll and forms the western half of the monument, having maximum internal dimensions of 300m east to west and 120m north to south, and enclosing an area of c.3ha. To the south its extent is defined by a level terrace, c.5m wide, created by gradual infilling of a ditch. Beyond this defence is provided by the naturally steep hillslope. To the north is a series of three artificially steepened slopes with intermediate ditches. The scarps are topped with earthen banks up to 1m high, and rise up between 8m-12m above the ditches below. These ditches are also infilled and are now represented by level terraces c.5m wide. The middle scarp maintains the imposing dimensions of its southern counterpart, and continues to the south east where it divides the western from the two eastern enclosures. It is supported along this stretch by a substantial ditch and bank, the bottom of the ditch being c.8m below the top of the bank, and both having a maximum width of 5m-10m. The line of both scarp and bank is broken half way along, allowing access between the two enclosures. Within the western enclosure the ground rises steeply to form a ridge, the sides of which have been shown to be terraced although this feature is greatly obscured by vegetation. The top of the ridge provides the only area of level ground on which outcrops of bedrock can be seen. There is a well approximately half way along the northern edge of the enclosure. The eastern enclosure is roughly triangular in form, with maximum dimensions of 200m north west to south east, and 100m transversely. Its area of c.1.8ha. is generally flat, and is enclosed by a single earthen bank up to 10m high and 15m wide. Material for the construction of this bank will have been quarried from the almost continuous internal ditch, which is damp in places and measures c.7m wide x 1.5m deep. Along the southern edge of the enclosure an infilled ditch separates the bank from the artificially steepened scarp beyond. To the north the earthen bank forms the southern edge of the northern enclosure, and for much of its length has a ditch on its northern side measuring 7m wide by 1.5m deep. A break in these features gives access to the northern enclosure, which has an area of c.0.7ha and is defined by an earthen bank c.5m high, with traces of a second bank visible in places to the north. Approximately half way along the northern edge of this enclosure is a recumbent stone, 1.5m x 1.5m x 0.5m deep. Known as the Frog Stone because of its resemblance to a crouching frog, the stone shows signs of glacial erosion on its upper surface. It `faces' north east over the Clun valley, and may have been positioned intentionally by the hillfort builders, or perhaps by earlier inhabitants of the area. Some 10m outside the most northerly bank, a stretch of bank and ditch extends north west for approximately 100m, and may represent the original intended alignment of the rampart which was abandoned before completion. The ditch is c.3.5m wide and 0.8m deep, with a slight bank upslope, c.0.8m high x 2m wide. At its eastern end the ditch is represented by two hollows, up to 5m wide and 1.2m deep, divided from the remainder by a causeway. Both the Frog Stone and these outlying earthworks are included in the scheduling. The hillfort has four entrances, the main one created at the west end by the inturning of the earthen banks which define the southern and two of the northerly scarps. This entrance is protected by a spur extending westwards off the outermost northern rampart, and by an outwork of a bank with flanking ditches stretching transversely across the opening for c.45m. The southern entrance is formed at the point where the banks turn inwards at the junction of the east and west enclosures, creating an opening into both areas. To the north, a break in the bank at the western limit of the northern enclosure appears to lead west to a break through the central scarp and bank, thence east again into the eastern enclosure. Further east, a break in the bank and ditch may be related to the outlying earthworks to the north; it is aligned with the break in that feature, a characteristic emphasised now by a track which runs through both gaps. At the junction of the east and north enclosures at the eastern end of the monument there may be a fifth entrance, represented by what appears to be a break in the external bank, which survives particularly well in this area. Coxall Knoll dominates an area which continued to be a focus of activity into the Roman and medieval periods. It faces the hillfort of Brandon Camp, some 3km ESE across the River Teme, the area between containing the buried remains of three Roman camps; the hillfort and the camps are the subject of separate schedulings. All fences and gates within the monument are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 10 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: 27496

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Lines, H H, 'Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society' in Titterstone Camp and Others, , Vol. 2 ser, 3, (1891), 22-35
RCHM, Herefordshire, RCHM, RCHM, Herefordshire, (1934)

End of official listing