Large univallate hillfort in Bishop's Wood


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020180

Date first listed: 28-Sep-1934

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Feb-2002


Ordnance survey map of Large univallate hillfort in Bishop's Wood
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. 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.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: St. Allen

National Grid Reference: SW 82915 48732


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

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 large univallate hillfort in Bishop's Wood survives well. Its enclosing earthworks remain substantially intact. The old land surface underlying the upstanding earthworks and remains of buildings, structures and other deposits associated with these will survive.


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


The scheduling includes a large univallate hillfort of the later prehistoric period, situated on the gently sloping top of a spur on the east of a ridge north of Truro. The hillfort is ovoid in plan, measuring approximately 170m north east-south west by 143m north west-south east overall. The hillfort has a rampart of earth and stone, in the range 6.8m-9.4m wide and 1.8m high on the inside, 2.5m-3m high outside. The external ditch is around 4.5m wide across its top, 2.5m wide at its base, and 2m deep. The ditch has steep sides and a fairly level base. Original entrances through the earthworks on the west and the south east sides are visible as gaps in the rampart, measuring about 2.8m wide, with causeways up to 9.8m wide across the ditch. The interior of the hillfort is generally fairly level. The modern marker posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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: 32951

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Borlase, W, Parochial Memoranda, (1740)
AM7, (1934)
MS at RIC library, Truro, Henderson, C, Parochial Antiquities, Parochial Antiquities, (1920)
SW 84 NW 6, Palmer, J, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1965)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map Source Date: 1880 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map Source Date: 1908 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: St Allen Tithe Apportionment Source Date: 1841 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1090

End of official listing