Hillfort on Castle Hill 650m south east of Ford House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016498

Date first listed: 17-Aug-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Hillfort on Castle Hill 650m south east of Ford House
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Feb-2019 at 15:52:18.


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

County: Somerset

District: Taunton Deane (District Authority)

Parish: Wiveliscombe

National Grid Reference: ST 09678 28181

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.

The small multivallate hillfort on Castle Hill survives comparatively well despite part of the north and eastern defences having being destroyed by quarrying. The monument will provide archaeological information relating to the monument, the lives of its inhabitants, their economy and the landscape in which they lived.


The monument includes the surviving portion of a prehistoric small multivallate hillfort located on Castle Hill, at Wiveliscombe on the eastern edge of Exmoor; a small area at the northern end of the hillfort has been removed by quarring and is not included in the scheduling. The site is aligned broadly from NNW to SSE and occupies the summit of an isolated flat-topped hill, surrounded on all sides by steep slopes with almost vertical drops on the north, north west and east sides. The hillfort, approximately 356m long and 144m across, is oval in plan and an area of 4.1ha is enclosed by a bank of varying dimensions throughout its circuit. On the west side the bank is an average 2m wide, 2m high internally and dropping 10m externally from the top of the bank. On the south side the inner face of the bank is up to 2.5m high and the outer face 6m high. The profile of the bank on the north and east sides has been blurred by the subsequent addition of a hedge bank, and the original bank is visible as a low earthwork, 3m wide. The south side of the hillfort is fortified by a flat-bottomed ditch 3m to 4m wide above which is a steep outer rampart up to 11m high in places. The original entrance into the hillfort is located on the south side and was created by inturning banks forming a staggered passageway. Two other entrances are located on the west side and are known to be modern. There have been a number of finds from within the hillfort and in the outer defences; these include Neolithic worked flint artefacts, human remains of uncertain date found before 1836, and a hoard of 1139 Roman coins found in 1946. The barn located within the hillfort on the south west side, the wooden gate on the east side, together with all fence posts and stone troughs, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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: 32170

Legacy System: RSM


43792, Somerset County Council,

End of official listing