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Hilltop enclosure and a pillow mound on Knowle Hill

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Hilltop enclosure and a pillow mound on Knowle Hill

List entry Number: 1014839

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: Purbeck

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Church Knowle

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 22-Jul-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Feb-1997

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 28326

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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

Reasons for Designation

Hilltop enclosures are defined as sub-rectangular or elongated areas of ground, usually between 10ha and 40ha in size, situated on hilltops or plateaux and surrounded by slight univallate earthworks. They date to between the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth-fifth centuries BC) and are usually interpreted as stock enclosures or sites where agricultural produce was stored. Many examples of hilltop enclosures may have developed into more strongly defended sites later in the Iron Age period and are therefore often difficult to recognise in their original form. The earthworks generally consist of a bank separated from an external ditch by a level berm. Access to the interior was generally provided by two or three entrances which consisted of simple gaps in the rampart. Evidence for internal features is largely dependent on excavation, and to date this has included large areas of sparsely scattered features including post and stakeholes, hearths and pits. Rectangular or square buildings are also evident; these are generally defined by between four and six postholes and are thought to have supported raised granaries. Hilltop enclosures are rare, with between 25 and 30 examples recorded nationally. A greater number may exist but these could have been developed into hillforts later in the Iron Age and could only be confirmed by detailed survey or excavation. The majority of known examples are located in two regions, on the chalk downland of Wessex and Sussex and in the Cotswolds. More scattered examples are found in north-east Oxfordshire and north Northamptonshire. This class of monument has not been recorded outside England. In view of the rarity of hilltop enclosures and their importance in understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

The hilltop enclosure and pillow mound on Knowle Hill survive comparatively well and are known from part excavation to contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The hilltop enclosure represents a rare example of its class within Dorset and its value is enhanced by the preservation of associated cross dyke systems on the hilltop, as these relate to the wider use of the hilltop during the Iron Age. This, together with the preservation of other Iron Age settlements nearby, will provide an important opportunity to contrast the differing forms of settlement, land use and economic practices of the period. The pillow mound, used in the medieval period for rabbit breeding, is one of few examples to occur within monuments of an earlier date in Dorset and is associated with a group of similar monuments nearby. Together these will provide an insight into the use of warrens in this area of the country.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a hilltop enclosure and an earthern mound interpreted as a pillow mound situated on the spur of Knowle Hill, a prominent chalk ridge of the Isle of Purbeck, overlooking Poole Harbour to the north east. The hilltop enclosure lies at the centre of a group of cross dykes on Knowle Hill. The hilltop enclosure covers an area of 3ha, and is defined by steep natural slopes to the north and south and cross dykes to the east and west. The western cross dyke includes two parallel banks, aligned north-south and divided by a quarry ditch. The banks have maximum dimensions of 49m in length, 8m-8.5m in width and c.0.45m-0.9m in height. The quarry ditch is 6.7m wide and c.0.97m deep. A gap in both banks and corresponding causeway across the ditch, 30m from the southern end, is likely to mark an original entrance. This cross dyke is likely to represent the most substantial set of earthworks built on the hilltop during the Iron Age period. The cross dyke to the east includes a bank and outer quarry ditch. It is aligned broadly north-south, although the southern section deviates towards the south west and creates a bowed appearance in plan. The bank has maximum dimensions of 90m in length, 5m in width and c.0.4m-0.5m in height. The quarry ditch has become largely infilled, but is known from survey to have maximum dimensions of 6.5m in width and c.1m in depth. To the north, the cross dyke joins with another earthwork. This takes the form of a bank with quarry ditch to the north, aligned east-west, extending for 60m. The bank is 1.5m wide and the ditch 3m wide. At the eastern end, the quarry ditch extends almost to the edge of the natural scarp, where it forms a right angle with the eastern cross dyke. However, at the western end, the earthwork deviates for approximately 2m to the south of the adjacent northern scarp edge. The interior of the hilltop enclosure covers an area of c.3ha and is known to contain a large group of irregular hollows on the northern side. Part excavation of the largest of these revealed the remains of four post holes and clay floor levels, indicating the former presence of a timber built structure, 2.4m square in plan. Similar structures are known from other Iron Age settlement sites, such as at Little Woodbury, Wiltshire. Occupation debris including Iron Age pottery, animal bones, teeth, horns and antler and Kimmeridge shale bracelets were recovered. The abundance of cattle remains indicates a dependence upon a pastoral economy, although the working of Kimmeridge shale was also significant. The pillow mound, which is situated on the crest of the hill, has a mound composed of earth, flint and chalk with maximum dimensions of 18m in length, 9m in width and c.0.55m in height. It was constructed during the medieval period and might be associated with a group of similar monuments situated 600m to the south west, in the valley bottom. Excluded from the scheduling are all fence posts relating to the field boundaries and the bench, although the underlying ground 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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 518
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 518
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 518
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 518
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 518
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 518
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 481
Grinsell, L V, 'Procs Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Soc.' in Dorset Barrows, (1959), 78

National Grid Reference: SY 93506 82224

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 21-Nov-2017 at 11:20:37.

End of official listing