Raddon Hill: a Neolithic causewayed enclosure and later hillfort


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016259

Date first listed: 23-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Raddon Hill: a Neolithic causewayed enclosure and later hillfort
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: Mid Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Shobrooke

County: Devon

District: Mid Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Stockleigh Pomeroy

National Grid Reference: SS 88554 03134

Reasons for Designation

Between 50 and 70 causewayed enclosures are recorded nationally, mainly in southern and eastern England. They were constructed over a period of some 500 years during the middle part of the Neolithic period (c.3000-2400 BC) but also continued in use into later periods. They vary considerably in size (from 2 to 70 acres) and were apparently used for a variety of functions, including settlement, defence, and ceremonial and funerary purposes. However, all comprise a roughly circular to ovoid area bounded by one or more concentric rings of banks and ditches. The ditches, from which the monument class derives its name, were formed of a series of elongated pits punctuated by unexcavated causeways. Causewayed enclosures are amongst the earliest field monuments to survive as recognisable features in the modern landscape and are one of the few known Neolithic monument types. Due to their rarity, their wide diversity of plan, and their considerable age, all causewayed enclosures are considered to be nationally important.

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 (eigth - 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 on 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. Causewayed enclosures are rare in the south west of England. At Raddon Hill the causewayed enclosure is partly overlain by a slight univallate hillfort, and the full extent of both monuments, together with sections of an associated field system, has been plotted from aerial photographs and geophysical surveys. Although the upstanding earthworks have been modified by cultivation over a long period, limited archaeological excavation has shown that buried features remain intact, including artefacts and environmental evidence relating to the construction and use of the monument. The close association of these two very different forms of enclosure, together with a field system, preserves valuable archaeological evidence for the development of prehistoric communities over a period of at least 2500 years.


The monument includes the buried remains of a causewayed enclosure of the Neolithic period which are partly overlain by those of a later prehistoric hillfort and associated field system. It is situated some 8km NNW of Exeter, on a hillcrest towards the western end of the Raddon Hills that overlook an area of lower ground between the rivers Exe and Creedy to the south. The monument was first identified from aerial photographs taken in the summer of 1984 in which it appeared as a number of curvilinear cropmarks. After fieldwork in 1993 these were interpreted as the remains of a hillfort. Limited archaeological excavation in 1994, accompanied by geophysical and contour surveys over a wider area, provided more detailed information of the nature and extent of the buried features. The surface remains of the monument show as a low earthwork, visible as a break in the hillslope on the west and south sides of the alignment of the outer cropmark. In the fields on the south side of the monument the lower part of the break in the hillslope is also marked by scatters of worked flint in the soil. The causewayed enclosure is roughly oval in plan, about 210m east-west by 125m north-south, enclosing an area of approximately 1.9ha of the hilltop defined by a ditch which is divided into unequal sections by causeways. Within this enclosure there is another enclosure, of similar form, about 115m east- west by 70m north-south, enclosing an area of approximately 0.6ha. The inner enclosure is eccentric to the outer enclosure, and similarly encircles the hilltop. The excavation revealed the ditches of the outer enclosure to be typically flat-bottomed, 4m wide and 0.8m deep on the east side of the enclosure, and 3m wide and 0.7m deep on the west side. The remains of an internal bank were recorded on the east side where it survived to a width of 13m and height of 0.4m. The ditches of the inner enclosure were also flat- bottomed, 2.4m wide and 0.7m deep on the east side, and 2.6m wide and 0.8m deep on the west side. Within the enclosures a number of features were excavated which consisted mainly of pits and postholes. The artefacts recovered were mainly Neolithic flint tools, including leaf-shaped arrowheads and scrapers, together with evidence of flint working in the form of flint cores and hammerstones. A polished stone axehead was also found. There were some pottery fragments, the sherds being similar to those found at the causewayed enclosure beneath Hembury hillfort, near Honiton. The later prehistoric hillfort which succeeded the causewayed enclosure is irregular in plan being about 155m east-west by 100m north-south, enclosing an area of approximately 1ha within a ditch. It is located on the western side of the hillcrest, extending down the hillslope, and overlying the western parts of the areas enclosed by both the inner and outer ditches of the causewayed enclosure. The defensive ditch had a `V' shaped profile, 2m wide and 0.9m deep. Originally an earth rampart stood on the inner side of the circuit of the ditch and within the excavated area the position of the rampart was defined by the foundation trench for the wooden palisade, 0.5m wide and 0.3m deep, that revetted the face of the rampart. No entrances into the enclosure have been clearly identified, although an entrance is thought to exist on the western side. Within the hillfort a number of features were identified by excavation including pits and postholes. The artefacts recovered included pottery fragments that are typical of the period from the Bronze Age to Early Iron Age (2000 - 500 BC). A large amount of metal working residue was recovered at the western end of the hillfort. Within the area where the causewayed enclosure and the hillfort overlap, features have been identified which may be associated with either of them. These include a discontinuous circle of stakeholes of about 3m diameter which may be part of a dwelling; two elongated pits containing some burnt bone and charcoal which may be graves; and a substantial vertical shaft, 5.9m in diameter and excavated to a depth of 2.2m, which appears to have been the upper part of a well. To the north east of the causewayed enclosure are the remains of part of a prehistoric field system identified by geophysical survey. They include buried field boundaries which radiate out from the outer ditch of the causewayed enclosure, with smaller divisions at right angles to the radiating lines. Part excavation showed that the field boundaries take the form of ditches of `U' shaped profile, about 0.5m wide and 0.5m deep. Situated near the centre of the causewayed enclosure is an underground monitoring post of the Royal Observer Corps. The post, now decommissioned, was Station 20 of the ROC Exeter 10 Group, Stockleigh Pomeroy. It survives in good condition and is included in the scheduling. Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences and road surfaces, although the ground beneath them is included.

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


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

Legacy System number: 24854

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Knight, M, Gent, T, 'Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report' in Excavation And Survey Of A Multi-Period Enclosure At Raddon Hill, (1994)
Knight, M, Gent, T, 'Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report' in Excavation And Survey Of A Multi-Period Enclosure At Raddon Hill, (1994)
DAP/AM6, Devon County Council SMR, (1984)
Devon County Council SMR, (1984)

End of official listing