The Walls: a large multivallate hillfort


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021065

Date first listed: 13-Nov-1972

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Sep-2003


Ordnance survey map of The Walls: a large multivallate hillfort
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Worfield

National Grid Reference: SO 78673 96715


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

Reasons for Designation

Large multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of between 5ha and 85ha in area, located on hills and defined by two or more lines of concentric earthworks set at intervals of up to 15m. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are generally regarded as centres of permanent occupation, defended in response to increasing warfare, a reflection of the power struggle between competing elites. Earthworks usually consist of a rampart and ditch, although some only have ramparts. Access to the interior is generally provided by two entrances although examples with one and more than two have been noted. These may comprise a single gap in the rampart, inturned or offset ramparts, oblique approaches, guardrooms or outworks. Internal features generally include evidence for intensive occupation, often in the form of oval or circular houses. These display variations in size and are often clustered, for example, along streets. Four- and six-post structures, interpreted as raised granaries, also occur widely while a few sites appear to contain evidence for temples. Other features associated with settlement include platforms, paved areas, pits, gullies, fencelines, hearths and ovens. Additional evidence, in the form of artefacts, suggests that industrial activity such as bronze- and iron-working as well as pottery manufacture occurred on many sites. Large multivallate hillforts are rare with around 50 examples recorded nationally. These occur mostly in two concentrations, in Wessex and the Welsh Marches, although scattered examples occur elsewhere. In view of the rarity of large multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the nature of social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of national importance.

The large multivallate hillfort known as The Walls is a good example of this class of monument. It is one of a small number of such sites in Shropshire. The defences are well-preserved and retain significant information about their construction. In addition, organic remains surviving in the buried ground surfaces beneath the ramparts and within the ditches will provide evidence about the local environment and the use of the surrounding land before the hillfort was constructed and during its occupation. Within the interior extensive remains of buried structures and associated deposits will survive. These will contain organic remains and a range of contemporary artefacts, providing valuable insights into the activities and lifestyles of inhabitants.


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


The monument includes the earthwork, standing structural and buried remains of a large multivallate hillfort, known as The Walls. It occupies a slightly elevated position, in an area of undulating land, within an angled, steep-sided bend of the Stratford Brook, a tributary of the River Worfe. The hillfort is thought to lie close to the south eastern margin of the pre-Roman Iron Age tribal territory of the Cornovii.

The Walls hillfort is roughly D-shaped in plan. Its overall dimensions are about 340m north-south by 620m north west-south east. The defensive circuit encloses an area of approximately 9.5ha. Its size indicates that it was occupied by a very large community where centralised economic and social activities were practiced, including the storage and redistribution of food and the performing of ceremonies. The interior of the hillfort is defined by a single rampart with steep external and internal faces. The back of the rampart has been reduced in height by ploughing along much of the southern side. An outer rampart was constructed on the western side of the hillfort. This also has a steep outer face and is separated from the inner rampart by a rock-cut ditch. Along the southern and eastern parts of the circuit the rampart is bounded externally by natural cliffs formed by the Stratford Brook. These cliffs formed additional lines of defence, and in places they have been quarried in order to enhance their defensive appearance. Around the northern and western parts of the circuit the rampart is bounded by a broad external ditch, which has been largely infilled and is now mainly visible as a shallow depression. It will, however, survive well as a buried feature. The original entrance passage into the interior of the hillfort lies to the west of the mid-point on the northern side. To the east of the entrance, the external ditch has been recut and partially modified by modern drainage channels. Along parts of the inner and outer faces of the recut ditch, revetment walls are visible. They are built of roughly coursed sandstone blocks and stand to a height of 0.7m. A wall faced in a similar manner, with a core of river cobbles and sandstone blocks, was constructed on top of the rampart which defines the interior. The wall, which now survives as discontinous lengths and is partly embanked, is between 2.3m and 3.5m wide and stands up to 1m in height. This wall, or breastwork, was noted by JB Blakeway, an antiquarian, in the early 19th century. All these walls are considered to be contemporary with the occupation of the hillfort and probably gave it its name.

An annexe was created on the lower spur of land to the south east of the main area of the hillfort. It is defined on its south western, eastern and north eastern sides by scarps with steep outer faces and rock-cut bases. It is separated from the main area of the interior by a rampart, which is bounded in part by an external rock-cut ditch. Access to the annexe was via a gap in the rampart, about 6m wide. At the base of the southern tip of the annex, adjacent to vertically cut rock faces, is a short flight of rock-cut steps. Around the defensive circuit other flights of steps have been recorded in the past. It is considered that these features were used to provide access to parts of the circuit during the construction of the defences.

Since the 17th century much of the interior of the fort has been cultivated, and finds of Roman coins here, noted by an early 19th century antiquarian, may indicate that occupation continued into the Roman period.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: The Walls bungalow, the surface of the modern farm track, all gate and fence posts and iron railings; however, the ground beneath all 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: 34935

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Lines, H H, 'Transactions of Shropshire Archaeological Society, 2nd Series' in Chesterton Walls, , Vol. 3, (1891)
Mander, G P, 'The Wolverhampton Journal' in Chesterton Walls, (1908), 265-68

End of official listing