Norsebury Ring hillfort
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Winchester (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SU 49120 40092
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.
Norsebury Ring hillfort survives comparatively well, despite some disturbance by subsequent ploughing. It has been demonstrated by magnetometer survey to retain significant archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the original construction and use of the monument, and the landscape in which it was constructed. Fieldwalking of the monument has further demonstrated the survival of pottery and other finds demonstrating the occupation of the site from the Bronze Age to the post-medieval period.
The monument includes a small univallate hillfort dating to the Iron Age (700
BC-AD 43), situated on an east-west aligned chalk ridge which flanks the River
Dever to the south. The roughly trapezoid shaped hillfort encloses an area of
approximately 4ha of level ground and commands extensive views in all
directions except to the east. Disturbance caused by later trackways and
modern ploughing has damaged the defences, particularly to the east and south,
where they survive only as a low bank or scarp, a ploughed-out ditch and faint
traces of a slight outer bank. To the north and west the defences are better
preserved and survive as an inner rampart and outer counterscarp bank
separated by a shallow ditch. Both banks are up to to 12m wide; the inner
rampart is the more substantial, although reduced by ploughing, standing up to
2.5m above the ditch and up to 0.3m above the interior. Traces of a possible
outer ditch are visible on the northern side, although this is more likely to
be a later trackway or boundary feature.
A magnetometer survey conducted by English Heritage in 1997 has demonstrated
the presence of two original entrances in the ploughed-down area of the
defences: a simple entrance consisting of a gap in the ramparts to the south
east, and a more complex entrance to the south west consisting of an inturned
rampart which would have formed a corridor between the inner and outer
defences. The magnetometer survey also indicated the survival of significant
buried remains associated with the original use of the monument including a
large number of pits, hearths and ditches. These provide evidence of likely
round houses, granaries, compounds, iron ore smelting hearths and other
domestic and industrial activities within the interior.
Fieldwalking of the monument in 1979 recovered Iron Age pottery commensurate
with the hillfort's original use. Pottery indicating both earlier Bronze Age
(2400-700 BC) and later Roman period (AD 43-410) settlement of the site was
also recovered. Later use of the monument is also indicated by the recovery of
post-medieval (16th-18th century) pottery and building materials during
fieldwalking and by a similarly dated earthwork bank, probably a boundary
feature or lynchet, that is included in the scheduling where it extends to the
south east from the hillfort's north eastern corner.
All fences, pheasant pens and feeders 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 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Williams-Freeman, JP, Introduction to field archaeology as illustrated by Hampshire, (1915), 388-89
Payne, A, 'Wessex Hillforts Survey Project' in Norsebury Ring, Magnetometer Survey, Sept 1997, ()
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