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Historic England Research Records

Symonds Yat

Hob Uid: 109563
Location :
Gloucestershire
Forest of Dean
English Bicknor
Grid Ref : SO5637015690
Summary : An Iron Age promontory fort within the Forest of Dean in a loop of the River Wye. The promontory is triangular in shape with its base to the south and its apex pointing north. The impressive defences comprise a series of banks and ditches which control access to the innermost, northern, part of the site. The most southerly and outermost line of defence, and the next two northwards, consist of banks fronted by ditches. The ditches are 'V' shaped, ranging from 4 metres to 5 metres in width at the top, 2-3 metres at the bottom, and are 0.5 metres to 1 metre deep. Behind each ditch the bank rises to a height of between 1.2 metres to 2 metres. To the north of these, and forming the inner defensive structure, are a pair of banks with a ditch between them. The outer bank of this pair is 0.8 metres high, behind which is a large ditch 8 metres wide at the top, 5 metres wide at the bottom, and 1.5 metres deep. The western end of the two outer banks in the defensive system run into a lateral bank, 3 metres high and aligned north east-south west, which appears to form a limit to the defences on the west side. On the eastern side of the fort, the two southern banks and ditches have been built over by a road, houses and a car park. The two innermost banks run through to the promontory edge on their east side. Both the third and fourth banks are quite denuded on their east sides, standing to only 0.5 metres high, but the innermost bank stands to about 2 metres high on its east side with its ditch 3 metres wide and 0.5 metres deep. Scheduled.
More information : [Centred at SO 56371569] OFFA'S DYKE [ OE ]. (1)

.."The earthworks, at Symonds Yat are popularly attributed to
OFFA, and may possibly have been utilized by his engineer, since
they provide a link between adjacent stretches of cliffs which
form a natural frontier. They are, however, older, being the
elaborate and characteristic defences of a promontory fort,
facing S., of Early Iron Age date. The level flat, here 485
ft. above sea-level, has on either flank precipitious scarps 400
ft. high. The fourfold defences rest on these scarps, the
original entrance to the defended area being apparently on the
site of the existing - and very ancient - N.S. road. W. of this
road the earthworks are undamaged; E. of it they have suffered
and are suffering degradation. The innermost vallum is very
fine, it was found to measure 35 ft. on the scarp at a favourble
point, with crest about 10 ft. above natural ground level". (2)

"Promontary Fort. Iron Age B..". (3)

The north-south road, which cuts across the eastern part of the
earthwork, bears no visible trace of antiquity.
To the east of this road only the inner bank of the defences
survives. The others, with the ditches, have been destroyed,
as have all traces of an entrance.
The major portion of the defences is in good condition and is
tree covered. The innermost bank is the strongest, up to 4.5m.
high measured from the bottom of the ditch. The wide ditch
has a small outer bank which is not repeated in the succeeding
outer lines of defence. The further three lines of defences
consist in each case of a bank averaging 1.7m. high measured
from the bottom of its outer ditch which averages 0.7m. deep.
The interior is for the most part tree covered but has been
mutilated by quarrying, and tipping for the construction of car
parks. There are no hut circles or traces of habitation. (4)

Fort(NR). (5)

Listed in general survey of Iron Age in Gloucestershire. (6)

SO 564 158. Symonds Yat. Listed in gazetteer as a multivallate hillfort covering 4.4ha. (7)

The earthwork promontory fort described above (1-7) is not visible on aerial photographs due to extensive tree cover. (9)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1921
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Fox C. 1955. Offa's Dyke, 186
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Source Number : 3
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Notice Board at site.
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Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 NVQ 11-APR-58
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Source Number : 5
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1:10 000, 1980
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Source Number : 6
Source : Archaeology in Gloucestershire from the earliest hunters to the industrial age : essays dedicated to Helen O'Neil and the late Elsie Clifford
Source details :
Page(s) : 165
Figs. :
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Source Number : 7
Source : British Hillforts: an index
Source details :
Page(s) : 184
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 62
Source Number : 8
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 07-Jul-99
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Source Number : 9
Source : RCHME/EH/HE Aerial Photographers comment
Source details : Sharon Bishop/26-MAR-03/English Heritage: Gloucestershire NMP (Cotswolds and Forest of Dean)
Page(s) :
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Promontory Fort
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : GC 78
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 28861
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Gloucestershire)
External Cross Reference Number : 19
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SO 51 NE 3
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SO 51 NE 3
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1958-04-11
End Date : 1958-04-11
Associated Activities : Primary, SYMONDS YAT HILLFORT
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1991-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, SYMONDS YAT PROMONTORY FORT
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, SYMONDS YAT PROMONTORY FORT
Activity type : MANAGEMENT SURVEY
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: GLOUCESTERSHIRE NMP (NORTH COTSWOLDS AND FOREST OF DEAN)
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2006-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, SYMONDS YAT PROMONTORY FORT
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT SYMONDS YAT
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, SYMONDS YAT PROMONTORY FORT
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31