Caer Caradoc: a small multivallate 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.
- Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SO 31008 75799
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
The small multivallate hillfort known as Caer Caradoc is a fine example of this class of monument. The earthwork and standing structural remains of the defences retain significant information about their construction and modification. In addition, organic remains surviving in the buried ground surfaces beneath the ramparts and within the ditches will provide important information about the local environment and the use of the surrounding land before the hillfort was built and during its occupation. The survival of internal building platforms as earthworks indicate that the buried remains of structures and associated deposits will survive well. These deposits will contain organic remains and a range of contemporary artefacts, which will provide valuable insights into the activities and lifestyles of the inhabitants.
The monument includes the earthwork, standing structural and buried remains of
a small multivallate hillfort known as Caer Caradoc. It is situated at the
eastern end of the summit of Garn Bank, a broad steep-sided ridge. From this
location there are extensive views of the surrounding hills and valleys.
It is traditionally believed that Caer Caradoc was associated with Caractacus, or Caradoc, an Iron Age chieftain, who became leader of the Welsh tribes and was engaged in a guerrilla war against the invading Roman forces. He is thought to have been finally defeated in Shropshire in AD 50.
Caer Caradoc was first examined archaeologically by antiquarians in the 17th century. The earliest known illustration of the hillfort is a three- dimensional sketch by Sir William Dugdale and dated 1663. This illustration was reproduced by John Aubrey in his extensive work on ancient British monuments produced in the late 17th century.
The hillfort is roughly D-shaped in plan. Its overall dimensions are about 180m north west-south east by 390m south west-north east. The defensive circuit encloses an area of approximately 2.1ha. The defences of the hillfort were built on a massive scale and represent a considerable investment of labour. On the south eastern side, where the ground is steepest, there are two ramparts separated by a rock-cut ditch, with a quarry ditch at the back of the inner rampart. Along the northern side a similar arrangement exists, but here an outer ditch and a counterscarp bank were created as additional lines of defence. To the north of the eastern entrance, the size of these outer defences increases. To the west, the defences cut squarely across the top of the hill and face a gentle slope. There are two entrances into the hillfort, which are diagonally opposed. The main approach appears to be from the west and the entranceway here is flanked by earthworks of considerable size. At both the west and east entrances the ends of the inner rampart turn inward to form entrance passages between 4m and 5m wide. The approach to the eastern entrance is marked by a slight linear depression, or hollow way, formed by the passage of traffic ascending, and decending, the steep slope of the hill. A 30m length of this hollow way is included in the scheduling in order to preserve its relationship with the hillfort.
In 1995 work to consolidate sections of the defences included a programme of archaeological recording. This investigation demonstrated that both the outer faces of the inner and outer ramparts were revetted with stone quarried from the ditches. It was also shown that at a later date the height of the ramparts had been increased with dumps of earth and stone. Parts of these revetment walls are still visible.
In the interior of the hillfort, within and above the quarry ditches, are a large number of platforms, some partly cut into the bedrock, which provided level areas for the construction of buildings. Also within the interior, about 70m to the east of the inturned western entrance passage, is a roughly circular depression, about 6.5m in diameter and 1.2m deep. This feature is shown on Dugdale's sketch and is considered to be the top of a well. It is likely to be contemporary with the adjacent building platforms.
All gate and fence 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 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
Aubrey, J, Monumenta Britannica, (1697), 315
Rowley, T, The Welsh Border: Archaeology, History and Landscape, (2001), 38-39
Hannaford, H, 'SCC Archaeology Service Report' in Caer Caradoc: Archaeol Recording And Monitoring Of Ewk Repairs, , Vol. 78, (1995)
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