Hillfort, two bowl barrows, medieval strip lynchets and a cross dyke on Cley Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Hillfort, two bowl barrows, medieval strip lynchets and a cross dyke on Cley Hill
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. 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.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 83870 44869

Reasons for Designation

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen. The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by outworks. 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. Large univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north. Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. Strip lynchets provide distinctive indications of medieval cultivation. They occur widely in southern and south eastern England, and are prominent features on the Wessex chalkland. Cross dykes are substantial linear earthworks typically between 0.2km and 1km long and comprising one or more ditches arranged beside and parallel to one or more banks. They generally occur in upland situations, running across ridges and spurs. The strip lynchets and cross dyke represent land division and farming practices in the later prehistoric and medieval periods. Despite some quarrying, Cley Hill Camp remains a well preserved hillfort in an impressive location on an isolated chalk outlier.


The monument includes a large univallate hillfort, two bowl barrows, two flights of medieval strip lynchets and a cross dyke situated on Cley Hill, a steep sided Middle and Upper Chalk outlier of Salisbury Plain rising sharply from low lying clay land to the west of Warminster. The hillfort defences comprise a steep scarp up to 7m high surrounded by a flat berm up to 4m wide, enclosing an area of 7ha on the top of the hill. To the east and north east traces of an outer bank up to 3m high survive at the edge of the berm. Crossing the enclosed area, a scarp up to 1.7m high on a false crest of the hill, runs from north east to south west and may represent an earlier defence or a division within the hillfort. To the east there is a break in the ramparts where a natural bowl cut into this side of the hill provides a steep gradient on which defences were not necessary. To the south west a large post-medieval quarry has removed one corner of the hill, including most of the defences on this side, although some traces of the berm are still visible at the quarry base. At the summit of the hill is a large flat-topped bowl barrow. The mound of the barrow is 4m high and 28m in diameter, and is surrounded by a ditch from which material was quarried during its construction. This has become partially buried, but is visible to the north and south where it is 6m wide and 0.3m deep. The barrow was partially excavated by Sir Richard Colt Hoare and William Cunnington in the early 19th century, who found traces of wheat. Another bowl barrow 50m to the SSE comprises a mound 1.5m high and 22m in diameter surrounded by a quarry ditch 3m wide and 0.1m deep. This barrow was also partially excavated by Hoare and Cunnington who found an interment of burnt bone. The southern edge of the mound is crossed by a linear feature running from south west to north east, interpreted as a cross dyke. It comprises a bank 0.3m high and 2.2m wide flanked to the north by a ditch 0.1m deep and 1.1m wide. The cross dyke runs 170m from the edge of the quarry to the steep side of the hill to the east. Below the hillfort on the south and west sides are medieval strip lynchets, terraces built in order to cultivate on the slope, which rise up the gentle incline at the base of the hill. The steep risers, or scarps, stand up to 4m high while the flatter treads, which were cultivated, are up to 7m wide. All fence posts and cattle 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.

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Books and journals
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 51
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 51
Colt Hoare, R, The Ancient History of Wiltshire: Volume I, (1812), 51


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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