Stockland Great Castle


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


Ordnance survey map of Stockland Great Castle
© 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.

East Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 22578 02576

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.

The prehistoric hillfort of Stockland Great Castle survives well despite levelling of part of the circuit by cultivation, and will contain archaeological information relating to the construction and use of the site, the lives of its inhabitants, and the landscape in which they lived. A prehistoric routeway running along a nearby ridge, and an enclosed settlement known as a `round' some 900m to the north east, provide unusual associations for this hillfort.


The monument includes a prehistoric large univallate hillfort, known as Stockland Great Castle, situated on an east facing slope just below the crest of the long Greensand ridge which lies between the Umborne Brook and the River Yarty. The hillfort has an irregularly shaped interior defended by a single rampart and ditch. A modern road bisects the body of the monument east-west with the greater part of the visible remains standing north of the road. The irregular interior of the hillfort is a maximum 230m east-west by a 270m north-south but the curvature of the defences reduce the available internal area to about 4ha. The site has no natural defences and as a consequence the rampart and ditch of the monument are of massive construction. The rampart survives, north of the modern road, as an earthen/stone bank, with a near vertical inner face 3m high revetted in places by chert stone; this revetting may be of somewhat later date. The rampart is a maximum of 17m wide and chert has also been used to produce a 5m wide stone capping for the flat top along part of its western and northern course. The sloping outer face of the rampart is fronted by a broad ditch some 7m wide and at least 2m deep, the inner face of the ditch conjoining with the outer slope of the rampart to produce a scarp with a combined depth in excess of 6m on the north eastern side of the monument. The original profile of the ditch at its base cannot be seen as it is partially infilled with loose chert, rubble, and soil. The ditch terminates just north of the road on its eastern side at a point where the rampart appears to do likewise and this may indicate the location of the hillfort's original entrance. This is supported by the fact that the rampart takes a slightly different alignment south of the road suggesting an inturned gate at the point where the modern road now runs through. A further gap in the rampart exists on the north western side, but the ditch in front of this gap is infilled by an earth/flint causeway, the material for which almost certainly derives from the overthrown bank. This gap must therefore be considered later than the primary use of the hillfort. The massive defences visible over the northern part of the site have largely been levelled south of the road although sections of the rampart, the ditch, and a possible counterscarp are visible as low earthworks particularly on the down slope and eastern part of the field in which they lie. The rampart here is visible as a low rise about 11.4m wide fronted by a depression 8.9m wide which indicates the underlying position of the ditch. Forward of the ditch is a further rise visible only for a short distance but indicating traces of a counterscarp. None of these features are visible further west in the same field but a depression in the road on the suspected alignment of the ditch at the western end of the monument suggests its presence as a below ground feature beneath both the road and in the field. A number of chance finds of sling stones have been reported from the monument over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. All fencing and fence posts, gates and gate posts, and road surfaces, 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. 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:
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Books and journals
Fox, A, Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon, (1996), 52-53
Griffith, F, Devon's Past: An Aerial View, (1988), 99
Hutchinson, P O, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in , , Vol. 2, (1867), 374-77
Wall, J C, 'A History of the County of Devon (Victoria County History)' in Ancient Earthworks, , Vol. I, (1906), 588
Phillips, C W, (1947)


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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