Slight univallate hillfort and a World War II vehicle testing station on the summit of Ebury Hill, 550m west of Haughton Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1021283
Date first listed: 08-Jun-1972
Date of most recent amendment: 15-Apr-2004
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: SJ 54624 16432
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
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.
The slight univallate hillfort on Ebury Hill is a good example of this class of monument, despite its modification from quarrying and the establishment of a World War II vehicle testing station. In Shropshire hillforts of this type are comparatively rare in relation to other types of hillforts with more sizeable defences. The defences will retain evidence about the nature of their construction. Organic remains surviving in the buried ground surface beneath the rampart and within the ditch will provide information about the local environment and the use of the surrounding land before the hillfort was built and during its occupation. Small-scale archaeological investigations conducted here have provided an indication of the nature of the buried features and contemporary artefacts that lie within the interior of the hillfort. In the parts of the interior which have not been affected by later activity, buried structural features and associated artefactual and organic remains are expected to survive particularly well, and will provide significant information about the lifestyles and occupations of the inhabitants. The importance of this hillfort is further enhanced by its location to the nearby, and broadly contemporary, hillfort on Haughmond Hill.
The Normandy landings, which began with the D-Day invasion on the 6th June 1944, were one of the most important events during World War II, and the vehicle testing station on Ebury Hill played a vital role in preparing for these landings. It is a rare example of this kind of specialised military establishment. The layout of the testing station survives virtually intact and provides a clear indication of the scale of operations and their organisation. The use of a prehistoric hillfort provides an interesting link between the strategic needs of society in the first millennium BC and towards the end of the second millennium AD.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a slight univallate
hillfort, within and adjacent to which are the remains of a World War II
vehicle testing station.
The hillfort is situated on the summit of Ebury Hill at its north eastern end, 550m west of Haughton Farm. Although the hill does not reach a great height, it nevertheless provides a commanding view of the surrounding north Shropshire plain. The hillfort lies 2.4km NNE of another slight univallate hillfort on Haughmond Hill, which is the subject of separate scheduling.
The hillfort on Ebury Hill is D-shaped in plan, and its overall dimensions are approximately 230m north west-south east by 250m south west-north east. The area defined by the defences is about 3.6ha. The rampart is composed of earth and stone, and has an average width of 12m. Its height varies from 1.5m to 3.2m externally and 0.7m to 2.1m internally. It is bounded by an external ditch, which has been largely infilled, but survives well as a buried feature. Along the south western side the ditch is visible as a shallow depression, up to 0.8m deep, and between 5.5m and 7m wide. The northern part of the eastern side of the defensive circuit, together with the north eastern part of the interior, has been removed by stone quarrying. The earliest large scale Ordnance Survey map published in 1881 shows two breaks through the defences into the quarry. It is likely that one of these breaks also served as the original entrance into the fort. The southernmost break leads into the former quarry remains, while the gap to the north has been sizeably enlarged. In 1934 quarrying operations within the interior revealed the remains of two level building platforms cut into the rock, which had been paved with flat pieces of sandstone.
In 1944 a small-scale archaeological excavation was undertaken, which involved cutting two sections across the bank and ditch. A hearth is reported to have been found under the bank. Two modern breaks in the south western part of the defensive circuit were probably created at this time. In 1977 a limited archaeological excavation was carried out within the interior of the fort. No structural remains were revealed, but pieces of coarse Iron Age pottery were found which are believed to be from containers used in the transport of salt. In 1999 an archaeological watching brief was undertaken within the southern part of the fort's interior. Beneath the topsoil and cutting into the subsoil two small pits were found in close proximity to a layer of burning. While no artefacts were recovered to indicate the date of these features, it is considered that they relate to the Iron Age occupation of the site.
The archaeological excavation conducted early in 1944 was carried out in response to the use of the site as a vehicle testing station. The establishment of this station involved the construction of concrete roads, the building of barracks, offices and related structures. The Ordnance Survey map of the area produced shortly after World War II shows the layout and extent of the station.
A concrete road, 7.25m wide, provides access to the station from a minor road to the north east. Immediately to the west of the access road is a small disused, rectangular stone quarry, which would have provided a suitable base for a sentry post. To the south of this small quarry the access road splits: to the west the road continues into a larger former stone quarry within the hillfort; to the south the road runs past the extant remains of barrack blocks, offices and stores. A series of connecting concrete roads, forming parking or storage bays, was laid out to the west of these buildings. To the north of these bays concrete roads enter the hillfort through two cuttings made in the defensive circuit on the south western side, and terminate in a turning circle.
The quarry within the hillfort measures approximately 100m by 160m. In the deeper northern third a pool has formed into which a concrete ramp decends. The concrete road system within the quarry also consists of an oval circuit. To the west of this circuit is a low revetment wall built of concrete blocks. It was associated with a building depicted on the early post-war Ordnance Survey map. A flight of concrete steps at the south eastern side of the quarry provides access from this part of the testing station to the higher ground to the south. At the south western corner of the hillfort interior is a rectangular building platform cut into the bedrock, which probably served as the base for a lookout post.
The military base was established here to test small semi-armoured personnel vehicles fitted with a Bren Gun (a light machine gun), known as Universal or Bren Carriers. These tracked vehicles were manufactured at the Sentinel Wagon Works in Shrewsbury, about 4.5km to the south west. They were designed to carry men and equipment over rough ground with speed. In preparation for the Normandy landings in June 1944 these vehicles had to be modified so that they could be driven through water. The number of military buildings within the station strongly suggests that the site was not only used to test vehicles after their modification, but also served as a base to train drivers before they were sent to Normandy and to other theatres of war.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: all posts and fences, all post-World War II buildings and exterior surfaces, the post- built `wigwam', utility poles and the electric power points for caravans, wooden benches and fire beater stands, children's play equipment, the quarry excavator bucket and the concrete base on which it stands; however, the ground beneath all these features is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 35856
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Chamberlain, P, Ellis, C, Making Tracks: British Carrier Story 1914-1972, (1973), 29
Chamberlain, P, Ellis, C, Making Tracks: British Carrier Story 1914-1972, (1973), 60
Forrest, H E, 'Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeology Society 1937-38' in Roman Roads Committe: A Brief Report, , Vol. 49, (1938), 93
Hannaford, H R, 'Shropshire County Council Archaeology Service Report' in A Watching Brief at Ebury Hillfort, Haughton, Shropshire, , Vol. 160, (1999)
Simms, R S, 'The Antiquaries Journal' in Ebury Camp, Uffington, , Vol. 28, (1948), 30
Stanford, S C, 'Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society' in Ebury Hill Camp - Excavations 1977, (1985), 9-12
Stanford, S C, 'Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society' in Ebury Hill Camp - Excavations 1977, (1985), 9
Willis, H, 'Antiquity' in Archaeological aspects of D-Day: Operation Overlord, , Vol. 68, (1994), 844
County Series map Shropshire 29.13 1:2500, (1881)
Lowry, B, (2002)
Rev 1949 - see initial scheduling map, SJ 51 NW Provisional Edition, (1954)
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