Prehistoric enclosure known as Stow Camp


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


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

Cotswold (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 19437 25959

Reasons for Designation

Ram's Hill type enclosures were constructed on hilltops in southern England throughout the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC). They usually survive as an oval area of up to c.5ha defended by a single bank and external ditch interrupted by simple causewayed entrances. Traces of circular houses have been found within the interiors, and associated field systems have been identified nearby; the enclosures are therefore interpreted as the sites of domestic settlement. Some examples, such as the earliest phase of the enclosure on Ram's Hill itself, may have been occupied on a temporary seasonal basis, and evidence for episodes of feasting on a social or ceremonial scale has been found. In several cases, investigations have provided evidence for the remodelling and reuse of the enclosures during the later prehistoric and Roman periods. Sparsely distributed throughout central southern England, Ram's Hill type enclosures are one of very few classes of monument dating to the Early and Middle Bronze Age. They are a rare monument type; less than 10 have been positively identified. All examples with surviving remains are therefore considered to be of national importance.

The extant part of the defences of the prehistoric enclosure known as Stow Camp survives well, despite some modern development in the area. The monument contains remains of Bronze and Iron Age date relating to the construction and maintenance of the defences as well as to settlement and other activities within the enclosure. It is notable that several large Middle and Late Bronze Age enclosures have been found on sites later used for Iron Age hillforts, and in many cases the Iron Age defensive circuit partly corresponds with the line of the Bronze Age enclosure, as is the case at Stow. The monument will therefore contain evidence relating to the continuity of occupation at the site, providing an insight into changing patterns of settlement, building and manufacturing techniques. The likelihood that the Bronze Age enclosure is similar to that at Ram's Hill in Oxfordshire, of which few examples are known, increases the potential of the site to provide information about Bronze Age defensive constructions and settlement. The continuity of settlement in the area of the camp from the Bronze Age through to the present day is unusual and adds to its value to the local community. Below ground remains will include evidence for the defences, especially the ditches, structures and materials relating directly to the occupation and use of the site. Organic remains in the form of charred grains and seeds will also survive, giving an insight into the diet of the inhabitants as well as the local environment at the time the monument was constructed.


The monument includes the known surviving extent of a prehistoric fortification situated on the top of a hill in the Cotswolds, immediately to the north east of the modern town of Stow-on-the-Wold. The north eastern section of the enclosure is visible as an earthwork bank, about 20m wide and 2m high, which runs between Well Lane and Shepherd's Way. The topography of the site and the curved shape of the property boundaries to the south east of this earthwork suggest that it is part of an oval enclosure which formerly covered an area of about 12ha, running to the east of Kiln Garden and Ashton House, before swinging to the west and north along the line of Park Street and Digbeth Street, through Market Square and returning east to Parson's Corner. The existence of a prehistoric enclosure at Stow has been postulated since the mid-19th century, based on the Saxon place name `Maethelgeres Byrig' recorded in a charter of AD 714. Excavations by O'Neil in 1972 first revealed evidence for the enclosure with the discovery of an undated ditch. Work by Parry between 1991 and 1992 revealed two further ditches, of defensive proportions, one of which was shown by radiocarbon dating to have been dug during the mid-Bronze Age. The undated ditch discovered by Parry, and that revealed in 1972 by O'Neil share morphological similarities (they are both broad with shallow, sloping sides and lie in similar topographic locations), and it has been suggested that they may be different stretches of the same feature. The houses and outbuildings of the properties known as The Surgery, Ivy Cottage, Earlswood, Woodbanke Cottage, 1 and 2 Ellacot, Eastcombe, and The Cottage, all brick and stone walls, fences and telegraph poles 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Parry, C, Report on the observation of an Iron Age ditch at Ellacot, Stow, (1991)
Grinsell, L V, 'Trans. of the Bristol and Glos. Arch. Society' in The Royce Collection at Stow-on-the-Wold, , Vol. LXXXIII, (1964), 11


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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