Weatherby Castle, an Iron Age hillfort 1020m north west of Ashley Barn Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019360

Date first listed: 08-Nov-1928

Date of most recent amendment: 06-Oct-2000


Ordnance survey map of Weatherby Castle, an Iron Age hillfort 1020m north west of Ashley Barn Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: North Dorset (District Authority)

Parish: Milborne St. Andrew

National Grid Reference: SY 80716 96254


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

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.

Weatherby Castle is a comparatively well-preserved example of its class and will contain archaeological deposits providing information about Iron Age society, economy and environment.


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


The monument includes Weatherby Castle, a small multivallate hillfort which occupies a prominent position at the higher southern end of a chalk spur. The hillfort has two roughly concentric ramparts and ditches, separated by a gap of up to 27m enclosing an irregular sub-rectangular area of about 7ha, on the highest part of the hill. The inner enclosure covers an area of about 2.5ha and is defined by a rampart, up to 25m wide, up to 2.5m high from the interior and about 6m high externally. The external ditch is about 12m wide and 1.5m deep with a discontinuous counterscarp bank, up to 8m wide and 0.6m high. The outer rampart, where best preserved, is up to 25m wide, 2m high from the interior and up to 9m high from the outside, although for much of its length it has been reduced on the interior, presumably by past cultivation, to an outward facing scarp. An external ditch, with a counterscarp bank, noted by Hutchins in the 18th century, is no longer clearly visible on the surface but will survive as a buried feature up to 20m wide. The original entrance on the western side of the hillfort has also been disturbed. The inner ramparts curve outwards creating a narrow passage 12m wide, approached from the outside by a ramp. There is a corresponding gap in the outer bank which is protected by a third bank covering the gap, now an outward facing scarp 125m long and up to 3m high. A gap in the inner rampart to the north of this is not original. There is a low bank, 2.5m wide and 0.4m high, running around the inside of the hillfort, adjacent to the rampart. This is of unknown date and may be a plantation enclosure. The domed interior shows no visible signs of occupation features although they may be masked by the vegetation. Within the enclosure there is a brick built obelisk with a stone inscribed `EMP 1761', probably referring to the owner at the time, Edmund Morton Pleydell. This is a Listed Building Grade II. All fence posts and the obelisk 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: 33541

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hutchins, J, History of Dorset: Volume I, (1861), 142

End of official listing