This browser is not fully supported by Historic England. Please update your browser to the latest version so that you get the best from our website.

Maesbury Castle small multivallate hillfort

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: Maesbury Castle small multivallate hillfort

List entry Number: 1015494

Location

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

County: Somerset

District: Mendip

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Croscombe

County: Somerset

District: Mendip

District Type: District Authority

Parish: St. Cuthbert Out

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 19-Dec-1929

Date of most recent amendment: 31-Jan-1997

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 29033

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

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Maesbury survives well with waterlogged deposits along the north providing conditions for the preservation of archaeological evidence relating to the environment in which the monument was constructed.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a small multivallate hillfort with defences enclosing the summit of a round hilltop, on the southern side of the Mendip Hills. The site commands views to the north, west and south. The earthworks are oval in plan, with two lines of ramparts enclosing an inner area of 2.8ha. The two ramparts are not always concentric, and there is a gap between them, particularly at the western entrance. The inner rampart consists of a bank 1.5m-3m high and external ditch 2m-2.5m deep, with a small counterscarp bank 0.3m-1.2m high on the outside of the ditch mainly visible on the north and south west sides. Along the south west side the main bank and ditch are separated by a berm of flat ground. The outer rampart is much smaller in scale, and consists of a bank 0.3m-1.2m high and external ditch 0.2m-2m deep, with a counterscarp bank most notable on the north west side but traceable elsewhere. Along the south west, however, only a break of slope and outer ditch, or a terrace where the ditch has been levelled by ploughing, are visible. Along the north side the counterscarp bank of the inner circuit and the main bank of the outer rampart form twin banks either side of the space between. The inner ditch along this northern side is often water-filled. There are two opposing entrances to the interior of the fort, one to the WNW and one to the ESE. That to the ESE is a broad gap and causeway through the ramparts, though the south side of the ramparts have been partly levelled in more recent times. Traces of an outwork bank and ditch covering this entrance have been recorded previously. The ground has been disturbed by the creation of a golf course, but a low linear bank can be discerned for a length of 22m, standing 0.4m high and up to 11m wide. The WNW entrance is of a more complex nature, perhaps representing several phases. More recently the outer ditch has been utilised as a field boundary, with a hedge or hedge-bank running around the entire circuit. The remaining width of ditch and counterscarp bank outside this has been degraded by ploughing in the past. A gap in the outer rampart on the north is thought to be a recent attempt to drain the water from the ditch here. Excluded from the scheduling are all fences and fenceposts, though the ground beneath these is included.

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

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Burrow, I, Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in Somerset, (1981)
Tratman, E K, 'Proc. University of Bristol Spelaeological Society' in Maesbury Castle, Somerset, , Vol. 8(3), (1958), 172-8
Other
Cottrell, T, An Enhancement of Maesbury Castle, 1996, Unpublished MA project, incl. survey
plus measured plan, OSAD, Antiquity No. ST64NW 6, (1966)

National Grid Reference: ST 60994 47168

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. 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 - 1015494 .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 14-Aug-2018 at 09:02:05.

End of official listing