Alfred's Castle univallate hillfort

Overview

Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
1015551
Date first listed:
11-Feb-1958
Date of most recent amendment:
04-Mar-1997

Map

Ordnance survey map of Alfred's Castle univallate hillfort
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

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

County:
Oxfordshire
District:
Vale of White Horse (District Authority)
Parish:
Ashbury
National Grid Reference:
SU 27734 82236

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.

Alfred's Castle survives as a good example of its class. It will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction and the landscape in which it was built. In addition, it is open to the public and forms an important educational amenity.

Details

The monument includes a roughly polygonal univallate hillfort known as Alfred's Castle, situated c.500m north west of Ashdown House. The earthwork defences consist of a single rampart bank which measures between 3m and 10m wide and stands up to 1.5m high. It was originally revetted with sarsen walls which can still be seen in places. Beyond the rampart lies a ditch which is believed to have been built as a series of lengths with gaps between them. The ditch sections measure up to 1.5m deep below ground level, with the drop from the top of the rampart to the bottom of the ditch being at least 2.5m. The ditch varies greatly in width, but its average would have originally been c.10m. The area enclosed measures c.136m across and currently has three entrances situated on the north east, south east and north west corners. Only the south east entrance is certainly original and here is defended by further outworks consisting of a hollow way approach through a second rampart bank which survives as an upstanding, roughly triangular-shaped feature. Within the interior are a series of features which appear to represent stone building foundations. However, it is unclear whether those which are visible represent the original buildings or a later reuse of the site. Excluded from the monument is the boundary fence which crosses the ditch, although the ground beneath 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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number:
28163
Legacy System:
RSM

Sources

Other
PRN 7333, C.A.O., Alfred's Castle, (1993)

Legal

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

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