List entry

List entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Large multivallate hillfort and associated earthworks at South Cadbury

List entry Number: 1011980

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County District District Type Parish
SomersetSouth SomersetDistrict AuthoritySouth Cadbury

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 03-Mar-1922

Date of most recent amendment: 26-Jul-1995

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 22904

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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

Reasons for Designation

Large multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of between 5ha and 85ha in area, located on hills and defined by two or more lines of concentric earthworks set at intervals of up to 15m. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are generally regarded as centres of permanent occupation, defended in response to increasing warfare, a reflection of the power struggle between competing elites. Earthworks usually consist of a rampart and ditch, although some only have ramparts. Access to the interior is generally provided by two entrances although examples with one and more than two have been noted. These may comprise a single gap in the rampart, inturned or offset ramparts, oblique approaches, guardrooms or outworks. Internal features generally include evidence for intensive occupation, often in the form of oval or circular houses. These display variations in size and are often clustered, for example, along streets. Four- and six-post structures, interpreted as raised granaries, also occur widely while a few sites appear to contain evidence for temples. Other features associated with settlement include platforms, paved areas, pits, gullies, fencelines, hearths and ovens. Additional evidence, in the form of artefacts, suggests that industrial activity such as bronze- and iron-working as well as pottery manufacture occurred on many sites. Large multivallate hillforts are rare with around 50 examples recorded nationally. These occur mostly in two concentrations, in Wessex and the Welsh Marches, although scattered examples occur elsewhere. In view of the rarity of large multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the nature of social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of national importance.

The large multivallate hillfort at South Cadbury survives as a well known and outstanding example of its class. It is known from partial excavation to contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the hillfort and to earlier and later use of the hilltop. The monument is one of a small but discrete group of hillforts situated within the area around the Somerset Levels. The area surrounding the hillfort includes a well preserved field system situated on the slopes of the hill. Historical documents and place name evidence suggest that the royal mint established by Ethelred the Unready at Cadanbyrig in AD 1010 is likely to have been in the proximity of South Cadbury. Partial excavation at the site has demonstrated that the hilltop was re-fortified during this period and that it continued to be of considerable strategic importance.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a large multivallate hillfort and associated features on and around Cadbury Hill, a dome shaped limestone outcrop, with views to the north, south and west.

The hillfort, which is commonly known as Cadbury Castle, is sometimes also referred to as `Cadbury Camelot'. Camelot is, however, a legendary reference to the capital of King Arthur and there is no evidence that the name was equated with Cadbury Hill prior to the 16th century, when the tradition is likely to have been invented.

The hillfort, which has a sub-rectangular shaped interior with maximum dimensions of 325m from east to west and 290m from north to south, occupies a total area of just over 7ha. This is known from excavation to contain a variety of features relating to the occupation of the hilltop over an extensive period.

Surrounding the hilltop are a set of multiple ramparts which vary from 110m to 75m in total width. The number of banks and ditches around the periphery varies, although in general there are four banks and three ditches which can have the appearance of terraces at intermittent points around the circuit. On the eastern side only two ramparts now survive, although breaks in slope lower down the hill are likely to represent the remains of the outer ramparts which were later modified into lynchets and have since been partially overlain by hill-wash.

Lynchets occur to the north and south of the hillfort and survive to a height of c.0.8m-1.2m. These represent the remains of the field system which developed during the Iron Age and later periods. There are three breaks in the ramparts representing entrances, which occur within the south western, eastern and north eastern areas. It is uncertain whether all are original. The eastern entrance, which is the smallest example, does not lead in the direction of any known medieval settlement, suggesting that it is original. The two larger examples, however, enable access to the hilltop from North Cadbury in the north east and Sutton Montis in the south west; both settlements were recorded by the Domesday Survey and it is likely that these entrances were certainly in use throughout the medieval period.

Partial excavations were first conducted at the site by St George Gray in 1913, when a number of trenches were laid within the area of the south western entrance. A more detailed programme of field investigation was initiated by Leslie Alcock between 1966-70, when approximately 6% of the interior was investigated. Most recently, a detailed plan of the archaeological features has been prepared by the Royal Commission for Historic Monuments (England). These investigations suggest that the site was occupied intermittently over an extended period. The earliest artefacts include over 700 pieces of Mesolithic flintwork, comprising blades, microliths, flakes and cores, recovered from the surface of the hillfort in about 1890.

Excavations identified Early Neolithic pits which contained human and animal bones near to the centre of the hilltop. Analysis of the bones produced two radiocarbon dates of 3500 and 3300 BC. Sherds of Windmill Hill type pottery, leaf shaped arrowheads and stone axes from the same period have also been identified. Later Neolithic material, including petit tranchet arrowheads and a large sherd of pottery, have also been recovered. The evidence from these periods is currently too limited to enable a precise interpretation of the nature of the activity on the hilltop.

Early Bronze Age material, including a barbed and tanged arrowhead, an early cast bronze axe and a pit containing pottery and bones, has also been identified. During the Later Bronze Age, occupation of the hilltop involved the construction of structures associated with ovens. Current evidence suggests that this evidence represents a farming community with a pastoral based economy. Material from this period includes Deverel-Rimbury type pottery, a fragment of a bucket base, spearheads and socketed knives. There was no evidence for the construction of any defences on the hilltop at this time.

The earliest Iron Age occupation of the hilltop has been dated to around 700 BC and is reflected in the presence of ceramic jars and two bronze razors.

The hilltop was first enclosed by a single rampart between c.600-400 BC and finds of fine bowls and finger ornamented jars from this period have been made. Between 400-200 BC the rampart is known to have been rebuilt at least twice and several round structures are confirmed within the interior. From c.200-100 BC the outer banks were added to the ramparts and a wider range of pottery including decorated material was introduced. Iron currency bars and a variety of metal work was also present.

During the Roman period it is uncertain to what purpose the hillfort was put. It may have been largely unoccupied for a time, although excavations have revealed traces of a structure which has been interpreted as a porched shrine. Finds of Roman masonry and material such as tesserae within the later defences also suggest that there were some Roman structures within the interior. The occupation of the hillfort continued during the fifth and sixth centuries AD and this is reflected in the presence of Gaulish pottery, red bowls imported from the Mediterranean, two iron knives and a silver buckle. A timber built structure with dimensions of 19m by 10m has been dated to this period and interpreted as an early medieval feasting hall.

In about AD 1010, Ethelred the Unready is known to have set up a new mint at `Cadanbyrig'. This is generally considered to have been at South Cadbury and excavations have demonstrated that a mortared wall was constructed around the perimeter of the hillfort at this time, suggesting that the site was of some strategic importance.

Many of the artefacts recovered from the site are now held at Taunton Museum. Excluded from the scheduling are all fence posts, gates and walls relating to the field boundaries, although the underlying ground is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

  1. Other  Reference - Type: PERS COMM - Description: Recent survey by RCHME
  2. Other  Reference - Type: SMR - Description: Detail development of site AD 200-100
  3. Other  Reference - Type: SMR - Description: Detail early IA occupation
  4. Other  Reference - Type: SMR - Description: Detail first defences
  5. Other  Reference - Type: SMR - Description: Detail secondary defences
  6. Other  Reference - Type: SMR - Description: Mention enclosure of hilltop
  7. Other  Reference - Type: SMR - Description: Mention excavations by Alcock
  8. Other  Reference - Type: SMR - Description: Mention excavations by St George Gray
  9. Other  Reference - Type: SMR - Description: Mention mint at Cadanbyrig
  10. Other  Reference - Type: SMR - Description: Mention of finds held at Taunton
  11. Other  Reference - Type: SMR - Description: Name of the site
  12. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 174-5
  13. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 176
  14. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 177
  15. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 176
  16. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 178
  17. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 177
  18. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 178
  19. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 113-4
  20. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 70-71
  21. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 112
  22. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 197
  23. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 195
  24. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 195
  25. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 195
  26. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 198
  27. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 200
  28. Book  Reference - Author: Alcock, L - Title: By South Cadbury is that Camelot.. excavations at Cadbury Castle - Date: 1972 - Page References: 198
  29. Book  Reference - Author: Riley, H - Title: South Cadbury Castle, South Cadbury, Somerset a new earthwork survey - Date: 1993 - Page References: 4
  30. Book  Reference - Author: Riley, H - Title: South Cadbury Castle, South Cadbury, Somerset a new earthwork survey - Date: 1993 - Page References: 1
  31. Book  Reference - Author: Riley, H - Title: South Cadbury Castle, South Cadbury, Somerset a new earthwork survey - Date: 1993 - Page References: 4
  32. Book  Reference - Author: Riley, H - Title: South Cadbury Castle, South Cadbury, Somerset a new earthwork survey - Date: 1993 - Page References: 2
  33. Book  Reference - Author: Riley, H - Title: South Cadbury Castle, South Cadbury, Somerset a new earthwork survey - Date: 1993 - Page References: 1
  34. Book  Reference - Author: Riley, H - Title: South Cadbury Castle, South Cadbury, Somerset a new earthwork survey - Date: 1993 - Page References: 3

National Grid Reference: ST 62816 25133

Map


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This copy shows the entry on 29-Jul-2014 at 01:46:40.