Torberry hillfort


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


Ordnance survey map of Torberry hillfort
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Sussex
Chichester (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SU 77992 20303

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.

The slight univallate hillfort at Torberry survives comparatively well, despite some disturbance by subsequent ploughing. Part excavation has shown that it retains important archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the original construction of the hilltop defences and their subsequent development over at least six centuries. The use of the hilltop for flour milling during the post-medieval period illustrates a then common, everyday activity of which only a limited number of visible remains survive.


The monument includes a slight univallate hillfort and a later postmill constructed on a chalk spur which projects to the north from a ridge of the Sussex Downs. The roughly east-west aligned, pear-shaped hillfort encloses an area of 2.8ha. Subsequent ploughing during the early post-medieval period has caused some disturbance to the monument, and the hillfort defences now survive as a low bank or scarp surrounded by a mainly infilled ditch. Part excavation of the monument during 1948 and between 1956-58 discovered that the hilltop defences underwent several phases of reconstruction and modification from the Early Iron Age (sixth century BC), and remained in use until c.100 BC. During the fifth-third centuries BC the defences defined a promontory fort, with a now infilled, north-south aligned ditch and timber-reinforced bank constructed across the central part of the monument, protecting the western end of the steeply-sided spur. During the third century BC, the ramparts were extended to enclose the whole spur-top, and a new entrance was constructed through their eastern side. This gateway was modified and elaborated during the second century BC and finally took the form of an inturned, stone-walled corridor leading to a massive timber gate. Evidence found during the investigations indicated that the gateway was destroyed in c.100 BC.

The excavations also revealed a number of now infilled storage pits within the interior of the hillfort. Analysis of pottery fragments found within them suggest that these date to the Iron Age. The interior of the hillfort will also contain further, below ground archaeological features relating to the original occupation of the monument.

The later postmill was sited within the western sector of the earlier hillfort during the post-medieval period. It is represented by a low, cross shaped foundation mound, known locally as the Fairy Bed.

The modern fences which cross the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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
Cunliffe, B, 'Council For British Archaeology Research Report' in Iron Age Sites in Central Southern England, , Vol. 16, (1976), 1-29


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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