Small multivallate hillfort at Burrow, 750m WSW of St Mary's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021071

Date first listed: 20-Jul-1933

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Sep-2003


Ordnance survey map of Small multivallate hillfort at Burrow, 750m WSW of St Mary's Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Hopesay

National Grid Reference: SO 38172 83059


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

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 national importance.

The small multivallate hillfort at Burrow is a fine example of this class of monument. The earthwork and buried remains of the defences retain significant information about their construction and modification. In addition, organic remains surviving in buried ground surfaces beneath the ramparts and counterscarp bank, 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. Well-preserved organic remains associated with the springs, will also enhance this picture. The survival of internal building platforms as earthworks indicate that the buried remains of structures and associated deposits will survive well. This has been demonstrated by the limited archaeological excavation of one of the building platforms. The excavation produced a significant assemblage of Iron Age pottery, which demonstrates wide-ranging trading contacts between the occupants of the hillfort and communities throughout the Welsh borderland. This hillfort offers significant potential for the analysis and undertanding of many aspects of Iron Age life.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a small multivallate hillfort situated on the summit of Burrow hill. It encompasses the earthwork and buried remains of an earlier, small multivallate hillfort.

The earliest hillfort occupied the highest part of the hill, from which there are extensive views in every direction. Its irregular or ovate plan is similar to that of the larger, later hillfort. The internal area of the earlier fort is about 2ha, but the full extent of its construction is not known as the defences on its north western side and the outer part of the southern side have been incorporated into the defensive circuit of the later hillfort. To the east and the south, parts of the defences of the earlier fort survive as earthworks, and form an inner enclosure within the later hillfort. The original entrance through these earlier defences is centrally positioned on the eastern side. To the north of the entrance a single rampart is visible, together with a slight terrace marking the position of the infilled ditch. To the south of the entrance the rampart and ditch continue. The ditch is discernible for the most part as a shallow depression and is flanked by an outer rampart, defined by an external ditch, which in turn is bounded in part by an outer (counterscarp) bank. This ditch and the outer bank have both been modified during the construction of the later hillfort. Within the interior of the earlier fort is a pronounced natural scarp running south west-north east, which defines the highest part of hilltop to the south. Along this steep scarp bedrock is visible, and it appears that the scarp acted as a quarry for the construction of the surrounding defences. Also within the interior of the earlier fort are level areas and slight depressions, many of which are believed to represent the positions of domestic and ancillary buildings contemporary with the earlier and later forts.

The overall dimensions of the later hillfort are approximately 285m north-south by 495m south west-north east. The defensive circuit encloses an area of about 4.2ha. The enlargement of the hillfort created two distinct areas: one to the west occupying the site of the original fort, and the other to the east bounded entirely by a new defensive circuit. The construction of these new defences, including the modification of the existing fort, was a massive undertaking and represents a considerable investment of labour. The defences around much of the later hillfort consist of three ramparts and an outer (counterscarp) bank, each separated by a ditch. Along parts of the inner rampart there are also indications of an internal quarry ditch. Along the western part of the north western side, where the ground falls away most steeply, the defensive line is maintained by the two inner ramparts and the intervening ditch. Vertical rock-cut faces of the ditches are still clearly visible around the western end of the fort.

There are two principal entrances into the fort: one at the northern end of the eastern side, and the other roughly mid-way along the southern side. At the eastern entrance there is a long passage through the defences where the southern end of the inner rampart curves inwards. At the southern entrance the ends of the inner rampart are also inturned. Here, the position of the entrance, close to the defences of the earlier hillfort, enabled access to the eastern internal area to be strictly controlled. There is a subsiduary entrance into the fort at the south western corner, where a narrow causeway crosses the defences and provides direct access to the western area. At the south eastern corner of the fort there is another break in the defences, which appears to be associated with two springs: one located next to the middle rampart (now covered by a concrete slab) and the other (which exists as a marshy area) within the interior a short distance from the rampart. A further spring within the eastern area lies close to the defences of the earlier fort.

Throughout the eastern area of the fort there are many level areas and slight depressions, which are considered to mark the positions of former buildings. In 1978 a small-scale archaeological excavation was undertaken to examine one of these platforms, which lay a short distance to the north of the entrance to the earlier fort and close to the front of the rampart. This investigation revealed the remains of several superimposed circular timber buildings associated with Iron Age pottery, including fine wares from the Malvern Hills, course pottery from the Clee Hills and salt containers from Cheshire. The buildings were partly cut into bedrock and partly into the infilled ditch at the front of the rampart.

All gate and fence posts, and the concrete cover over the spring, are excluded from the scheduling, although 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: 34941

Legacy System: RSM


Morris, EL, Petrology report for Iron Age ceramic material from Burrow Hill, 1980, Draft unpublished report in SMR
Toller, H, Burrow Hill Iron Age Hillfort: excavation and survey report, 1978, Draft unpublished report in SMR

End of official listing