Hillfort known as Slapton Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019236

Date first listed: 19-Jun-1957

Date of most recent amendment: 20-Jul-2001


Ordnance survey map of Hillfort known as Slapton Castle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: South Hams (District Authority)

Parish: Stokenham

National Grid Reference: SX 80843 44364


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes, generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth - fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few examples. 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. Slight univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally. Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Despite cultivation since at least 1946, the hillfort known as Slapton Castle will preserve features relating to the development and use of the monument. The survival of outworks and an area of overlapping ramparts at the east entrance is very unusual in an area where univallation is almost universal. The survival of stratified archaeological deposits in this previously unexcavated hillfort is of considerable importance to the future understanding of the monument.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


This monument includes a slight univallate hillfort, aligned along a north east to south west spur and with maximum dimensions of 351m long by 134m wide across the outer limits of the visible earthworks. The rampart, which includes a bank and outer ditch with counterscarp banks, straddles the 60m and 80m contours, the interior of the fort sloping gently down from west to east. A hedged lane passes through the fort along its long axis, cutting through the ramparts at either end. Later field banks follow the rampart on the north side of the fort. At the north east end of the fort, the 60m contour forms a narrow tongue which projects 100m to the east from the only visible original entrance to the fort. The tongue was utilised to provide a hornwork, protecting from the north side of the entrance at this point. The hornwork consists of a long projecting earthwork, scarped steeply away to the north in two long steps, falling about 8m to the lane. The lower step continues about 10m further east, the upper one curving round to create a kidney shaped earthwork 22m north to south, by 55m east to west and about 1.5m high. The convex side of this earthwork faces south, giving a wide field of fire on the hilltop and would have commanded the entire approach to the fort including the gate itself to the west, and the scarp slope down to the north. It would also have commanded the entire approach to the fort gate during its period of use. The south side of the approach must have had an earthwork forming an entrance passage to make the hornwork effective. Slight traces of a scarped earthwork curve away south east of the fort gate. This has been ploughed and is now about 0.3m high. The lane cuts through the main rampart immediately north of the east gate to the fort where the position of the rampart is visible by an abrupt break of slope in the lane. The ramparts survive well on the north side of the lane. Here, the rampart rises 1.5m from the fort's interior and falls about 5m to the outer ditch. A counterscarp rises again about 2m from the ditch and is overlain by a recent hedgebank. In the field to the north, a level terrace 6m to 8m from the centre line of the bank may represent a levelled glacis. On the south side of the lane, the ramparts have been ploughed since at least 1946 and now appear as a scarp about 2.5m high with a slight change in slope to indicate the position of the ditch. Towards the south western end of this sector, the rampart swells out to a width of about 10m. This could represent the position of an abandoned gateway. Stratified archaeological remains survive in this area and flint and pottery scatters have been found. Immediately within the ramparts in this area are concentrations of beach pebbles, possibly representing slingstone dumps. In the south west corner of the fort, a fragment of upstanding rampart survives, the counterscarp rising about 0.5m from the interior and the scarp falling about 3.5m to a terrace, representing the filled ditch. The lane cuts abruptly through the rampart at this point, its position visible by a rise of about 0.5m in the road surface. The modern road surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 33744

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Elliott, E A S, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in On Some Earthworks In The South Hams, , Vol. 33, (1901), 475-483

End of official listing