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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 205258

Hob Uid: 205258
Location :
Gloucestershire
Stroud
Stinchcombe
Grid Ref : ST7366198029
Summary : The earthworks on Drakestone Point have been in the past interpreted separately as an Iron Age hillfort, a beacon and a medieval castle, as well as a natural feature. However a survey and excavation in 2005 of the earthworks concluded that they were man-made and not natural and that there was some thought to the layout of features; but a clear date was not given for the features. It is possible their origins may be Iron Age (so therefore a promontory hillfort), but it was not clear whether the earthworks were all contemporaneous. The site may have been reused at various times in the past, therefore assigning dates is problematic, but it is clear that they are archaeological and likely had a defensive nature, based on the current evidence.
More information : (ST 73679802) Beacon (NR) (1)

Camp (NR) Beacon (NR) (2)

The almost level spur of Drakestone Point is broken by a series of banks, with ditches facing Stinchcombe Hill, extending over a distance of 180 feet where the width is only about 30 feet. At the NE end two banks, with their medial ditch, curve back on each side into the hillside; elsewhere the banks and ditches are straighter, although bank M-N broadens considerably at its east end. A small mound, possibly a barrow, about 20 feet in diameter and 2 feet in height, with a central depression now occupied by a seat, stands between P and Q. A small oval depression about 18 inches deep lies near point F on the edge of ditch G.

Baker believed the earthworks to be a beacon communicating between the Iron Age forts of the neighbourhood, of which he names nine, while Renn suggests that it is the site of the castle built by Roger de Berkeley in AD 1153 after his loss of Berkeley Castle (See ST 79 NE 21/Monument Number 205233 for an alternative site). (3-5)

The earthworks at Drakestone Point occur on a spur of oolite and comprise about six lateral 'trenches'. These bear no resemblance to a hillfort and according to the Geological survey are a series of natural "gulls", and not a 'Camp' as published on the OS 25".

The situation at the end of the spur affords excellent views over the Severn Vale, but while there may have been such things as IA Beacons something more tangible is required before we can accept one here. (6)

The features partially described above (Sources 1-6) were visible on historical aerial photographs taken in 1948 and were mapped as part of the Severn Vale NMP project. The area was surveyed and evaluated in a desk based assessment in 2005. A geophysical survey and some small excavations of the scheduled area and beyond were also carried out.

The aerial survey mapping largely corresponds with the field survey shown in the report (Source 8), particularly the three 'platforms', two cross ridges and a ditch which is orientated northwest-southeast. However a bank or possibly another terrace is visible on the aerial photographs on the north-western slope of the spur and appears to be a bank which follows the contours and then at a right angle crosses the spur, enclosing the three 'platforms'. This is not shown on the survey which may mean the feature wasn’t deemed to be part of the archaeology, part of the survey area, or possibly that vegetation obscured its visibility on the ground during the survey. The earthworks are shown as being overgrown on recent aerial photographs taken in 2005, when the survey was completed. This bank gives more of an appearance of a defensive earthwork and effectively encloses the spur on two sides.

The conclusion of the survey and excavations was that the earthwork features were man-made and not natural as described in Source 6, and that there was some thought to the layout of features; however a clear date was not given for the features. It is possible their origins may be Iron Age (so therefore a promontory hillfort), but it was not clear whether they were contemporaneous. The site may have been reused at various times in the past, therefore assigning dates is problematic, but it is clear that they are archaeological and likely had a defensive nature, based on the current evidence. (7-9)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1889
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Source Number : 2
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1955
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Source Number : 3
Source : Annotated Record Map
Source details : Corr 6" (Marjorie Crook 1926)
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Source Number : 4
Source : Archaeologia : or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity
Source details : T J L Baker
Page(s) : 166
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Vol(s) : 19, 1821
Source Number : 5
Source : Norman castles in Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 180
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Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 MJF 08-FEB-71
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Source Number : 7
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF/CPE/UK/2098 RP 3383-3384 28-MAY-1947
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Source Number : 8
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : EARTH.GOOGLE.COM 17-APR-2005 ACCESSED 01-JUL-2015
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Source Number : 9
Source : Gloucestershire County Archaeology Service [assessment & evaluation reports]
Source details : Morris, T. 2005. An Archaeological Desk-based Assessment Evaluation and Survey of Drakestone Point, Stinchcombe Hill, Gloucestershire.
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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, Beacon
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Medieval
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Documentary Evidence

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : GC 64
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1004871
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Gloucestershire)
External Cross Reference Number : 445
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : ST 79 NW 2
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON ST 79 NW 2
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1971-02-08
End Date : 1971-02-08
Associated Activities : Primary, SEVERN VALE NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2013-08-12
End Date : 2016-01-31