Small multivallate hillfort 340m south east of North Road Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Small multivallate hillfort 340m south east of North Road Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Lindsey (District Authority)
Tattershall Thorpe
National Grid Reference:
TF 22328 59808

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.

Although the hillfort 340m south east of North Road Farm has been reduced by ploughing and gravel extraction, a substantial portion of the ditch system and interior remains undisturbed beneath the present ground surface. Archaeological investigations of the portion affected by quarrying has demonstrated that the buried ditches survive well and contain artefactual evidence relating to the dating, construction, period of use and function of the monument. It is thought that the same fills may retain high levels of organic material, providing further valuable environmental evidence to illustrate both activities focussed on the site, and the nature of the landscape in which the monument was set. Although no artefactual evidence was recovered from the interior, the area under investigation represented only a very small proportion of the enclosure. It is, therefore, probable that the undisturbed remainder will contain further evidence which will contribute to a fuller interpretation of the site. The monument is situated some 2.5km to the south east of a similar defended enclosure at Kirkstead and a comparison of the information derived from the two sites may have significance for the study of land use and agricultural practices in the area during the Iron Age.


The monument includes the buried remains of a small multivallate hillfort located 340m south east of North Road Farm. It is situated in a commanding position on the Southrey gravel terrace above the River Bain to the south east and the River Witham to the south west. Although the monument is no longer visible on the ground, the remains of its infilled and buried ditches are preserved beneath the present ground surface and can be seen from the air as a series of cropmarks. These cropmarks, which have been recorded on aerial photographs since 1975, represent enhanced crop growth caused by higher moisture levels retained by the underlying archaeological features. The buried remains - roughly oblong in shape - originally measured approximately 300m long by 170m wide overall. However, sections of the defences to the north east and south east were destroyed by quarrying in the 1970s and 1980s and consequently these areas are not included in the scheduling. Nevertheless, excavations carried out at this time have provided valuable archaeological evidence, and confirmed the aerial photography evidence for a double ditch system, revealing two ditches 5m in width and 16m apart. The outer ditch was found to be `U'-shaped and approximately 2m deep, while the inner ditch was flat bottomed and about 1.8m in depth. Access to the interior was provided by a causeway to the north, within the area now destroyed. Upcast from the ditches was used to construct substantial internal banks. These have since been reduced by ploughing but environmental evidence from the excavation suggests that the banks were originally reinforced by hedges and possibly by a series of posts. Pottery sherds recovered from the ditches indicate that the monument was probably constructed and used in the Iron Age, from about the third century BC, falling into disuse in the early first century AD, before the Roman Conquest. Radiocarbon dating of wood found at the site in association with the earliest pottery fragments confirms the likely period of construction. The area excavated was limited mainly to the ditches and provided no archaeological evidence for activities within the defences, but organic material recovered from the ditches has demonstrated both the changing nature of the surrounding landscape and the probable use of the site. The ditches were originally water-filled, tending to silt up rapidly. This would have necessitated frequent cleaning and there is evidence for at least one actual recut. Vegetation overhanging the ditches shed material into the water and silts, and its preservation in the damp conditions gives a clear impression of the site's immediate environs. This rich source of environmental evidence, derived from samples containing many varieties of flora and fauna shows that the monument was built in an area of grassland broken by patches of woodland and scrub. There was some limited cultivation, reflecting the poor nature of the soil, and it is thought that the local economic basis was pastoral. Further evidence has been provided by the many species of insect remains recovered from the site, which also reflect a landscape affected by stock rearing and arable cultivation. Archaeologists have suggested that although the system of ditches and ramparts was clearly defensive in form, the site may not have had any true military function. It is thought that, while the monument may have served as a refuge for the local Iron Age population in times of threat, it is more likely that its primary use was for the seasonal coralling of grazing animals. The banks and ditches would have enclosed the animals and provided a deterrent to cattle rustlers and predators. A second, similar monument (the subject of a separate scheduling) is located some 2.5km to the north west, also on the Southrey gravel terrace, and the proximity of the two sites in the same ecosystem implies that both shared the same primary function. No dating evidence is yet available for this second site but it is possible that the two monuments were at least broadly contemporary and may even have been within the control of the same community.

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
Chowne, P, Girling, M, Greig, J, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in Excavations At An I A Defended Enclosure At Tattershall Thorpe, , Vol. 52, (1986), 159-88


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.

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