Billings Ring large univallate hillfort


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021070

Date first listed: 17-Sep-1936

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Sep-2003


Ordnance survey map of Billings Ring large univallate 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: Lydbury North

National Grid Reference: SO 36992 87954


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.

Despite modification to parts of its defensive circuit, the univallate hillfort known as Billings Ring is a good example of this class of monument. The earthwork and buried remains of the defences retain significant information about their construction. In addition, organic remains surviving in the buried ground surfaces beneath the rampart, counterscarp bank and within the ditch 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, containing organic remains and a range of contemporary artefacts, which will provide valuable insights into the activities and lifestyles of the inhabitants.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a large univallate hillfort known as Billings Ring. It is situated on the top, and at the eastern end, of a ridge. The ground here slopes steeply to the east and south, gently to the north, and is virtually level to the west. This ridge overlooks the valley of the River Onny to the north and east, and there are extensive views of the lower ground to the south and the hills beyond.

The hillfort is sub-rectangular in plan. Its overall dimensions are approximately 155m north-south by 225m east-west, and its internal area is about 1.7ha. The interior of the hillfort is defined by a rampart composed largely of stone with a steep outer face. The back of this rampart survives as an earthwork along the eastern side and along parts of the northern side. On the southern, eastern and northern sides the rampart is bounded by an external ditch. To the south west this ditch has been infilled and survives as a buried feature, about 6m wide. On the northern side the vertical rock-cut face of the ditch is still plainly visible beneath the outer face of the rampart. An outer (counterscarp) bank, constructed of stone, defines the ditch along the northern and western sides, and along the western half of the southern side. The original entrance into the hillfort is on the western side and has been widened in modern times. A break in the defences in the north eastern corner appears to be modern, but may also conceal the buried remains of an original subsiduary entrance passage. Much of the interior has been ploughed since the mid-20th century. Sherds of Roman pottery recovered from the plough soil indicate that the hillfort continued to be occupied in the Roman period.

All gate and fence posts, and wooden stiles, 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: 34940

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
'Transactions of the Caradoc & Severn Valley Field Club (1957-60)' in Transactions of the Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club (1957-60), (1960), 67

End of official listing