Castle Bank Enclosure

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021414

Date first listed: 07-Jun-2007

Map

Ordnance survey map of Castle Bank Enclosure
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire

District: Cherwell (District Authority)

Parish: North Newington

National Grid Reference: SP 40599 40870

Summary

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.

Despite reduction of the ramparts through later cultivation, Castle Bank enclosure survives well and is a good example of its class. It is located in an area where there are similar known examples of hillfort monuments located to the south and south west at Tadmarton Camp and Madmarston Hill. The hillfort will retain evidence of its construction and use and may contain surviving evidence within its defences of occupation and associated activity. Environmental evidence in the form of seeds and pollen will also tell us much about the landscape within which it was set. The monument will also help in furthering our understanding of this class of fortified settlement and, by comparison to similar monuments in the area, will tell us much about the development of settlement and the economy of their Late Bronze Age/Iron Age builders.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the remains of Castle Bank enclosure, a roughly square univallate hillfort, aligned north west to south east and situated some 550m west of French's Buildings. It is located on a plateau overlooking a ravine on its north western side called Padsdon Bottom, which is fed by springs to the north. The defences include a single rampart and an outer ditch which enclose an area measuring 190m from north west to south east and 190m from north east to south west. The rampart is constructed of stone and turf, and is believed, through evidence of substantial stone slabs in the field, to have had a probably dry-stone revetment. It has been subject to later cultivation which has reduced its height to approximately 11m wide and 3.5m high. The construction of the north western rampart demonstrates how its builders have utilised and enhanced the steep natural topography of the ravine. The defensive rampart measures approximately 15m wide and is continuous except for an approximately 10m wide gap at the entrance on its north western side, adjacent to the water supply. Surrounding the rampart, but no longer visible at ground level, is a quarry ditch. This would have served the dual function of enhancing the defences and providing material for the construction of the rampart. It has become largely infilled due to cultivation and deposition of soil from the banks over time, but will survive as a buried feature about 10m wide. Previous field investigation carried out over the monument has produced a small number of worked flints from the topsoil. Exluded from the scheduling are all post and wire fences, pheasant shelters and gates, although the ground beneath all of 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.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 30875

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing