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HER Number (PRN):01050
Name:Earls Hill Camp
Type of Record:Monument
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1020152: Earl's Hill Camp

Monument Types

Summary

Scheduled Monument: A complex of earthworks on Earl's Hill and Pontesbury Hill, now believed to include both a Bronze Age cross dyke (either a boundary earthwork or a defensive feature) and a multi-phase Iron Age hillfort (one of a group overlooking the Rea Brook valley).

Parish:Pontesbury, Shrewsbury and Atcham, Shropshire
Map Sheet:SJ40SW
Grid Reference:SJ 408 047

Related records

08062Parent of: Possible WW2 Military Installation on Earl's Hill (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FSA17 - RING (Undated)
  • FSA206 - FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)

Associated Events

  • ESA1132 - 1987 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA1133 - 1971 field observation by the Ordnance Survey
  • ESA1134 - 1978 field observation by SCC SMR
  • ESA1135 - 1981 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA1136 - 1987 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA4854 - 1998 condition survey and archaeological management plan for Earl's Hill Nature Reserve by Malcolm L Reid
  • ESA6904 - 2011-12 DBA and walkover survey of hillforts in Shropshire by Shropshire Council and Herefordshire Council
  • ESA4785 - 1992-2000 Summary Condition Survey of SAMs in the Shropshire Hills Environmentally Sensitive Area by English Heritage

Description

Consists of 1) Main enclosure, 2) Annexe, 3) and 4) Outworks.
(1) MAIN ENCLOSURE. About 3.75 acres in total, 3 acres within the defences. Defences. W side rampart, outer ditch or berm and short length of counterscarp bank on NW side. Inner rampart rises 3ft-5ft above interior at N & S ends. Outer scarp 15ft-20ft high. Entrance: on N. In-turn/ out-turn, with in-turn on E side. Interior: domed.
(2) ANNEXE to south: On tongue of land running SW from main fort. Four acres. Defences: NW side scarp 15ft to 20ft high with berm or ledge at foot. Inner scarp 3ft-4ft high intermittently. Ditch and outer bank and ditch at the S. corner. (3) SHORT DITCHES: Two lengths of bank 250ft north of the north entrance to the main hillfort. Exterior bank with ditch towards the main hillfort. Possibly uncompleted outer defences.
(4) OUTER BANK on north. 35ft wide and 550ft long aligned NNE/SSW. No ditch . 8ft-5ft high. Short curving detached length of bank across coombe from the SW. At N end of the main bank earthwork turns inwards to form in-turned entrance, with very slight respond on the east side. This scheme probably incomplete, but defines a level triangular area outside the main hillfort. Forde Johnston argues that PRN 01055 acted as a defensive outpost to this site <1a>
Half a bronze ring and two flint flakes from the main hillfort now in Shrewsbury Museum <1b>
Golden arrow, or a silver one hidden under hill acc to folklore. Hunted for on Palm Sunday until at least c1850 <1c>

Arc of ditch on Ian Burrows 2978 sketch plan is visible on a 1989 AP.CPAT 89/MB/861 <9>

Subjective impression is of a most dramatic and impressive site of exceptional complexity set on a steep sided ridge under rough pasture. The hillfort is in excellent condition with little or no erosion of the interior or defences. See card for further comments on the elements distinguished by Forde-Johnston. I Burrow FI 1978 <10>

Alternative story: gold harrow hidden beneath the hill <11>

Evaluated for MPP in 1990-1: High score as one of 13 Large Univallate hillforts <26>

Scheduling revised in 2001, and interpretation revised. The hillfort was reclassified as a small multivallate hillfort and the "outer bank" (as defined in [<1a>]) reclassified as a Bronze Age cross dyke. Scheduling description: ->

-> The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a small multivallate hillfort and an adjacent- cross dyke, which lie within two separate areas of protection. ->

-> The hillfort occupies the spinal summit of Earl's Hill, a steeply sided prominence with a top which slopes gradually from north to south. From this location there are commanding views of the undulating lowlands to the north and east, and the hills and valleys to west and south. Earl's Hill Camp lies 0.7km to the south of the small multivallate hillfort on Pontesford Hill, which is the subject of a separate scheduling. ->

-> Earl's Hill Camp is sub-rectangular in plan, with overall dimensions of 85m to 110m north west to south east by about 280m south west to north east. The defensive circuit of the hillfort encloses an area of about 2.9ha. Its size would suggest that it was occupied by a large community where particular centralised economic and social activities were practiced. The earthwork defences of the-hillfort have been created by cutting into the slopes of the hill. The excavated material has been used to form ramparts with steep outer faces, which are for the most part flat-topped, giving a step or terrace like appearance around the top of the hill. The earthwork defences defining the western side of the hillfort consist of two parallel ramparts separated by a narrow terrace, which marks the line of the infilled ditch. At the southern end two further closely set ramparts separated by a narrow berm or ditch provide additional lines of defence. On the more precipitous eastern side, where there are rock outcrops, the hillfort is defined by a single rampart. ->

-> Access into the hillfort was from the north where an out-turned entrance causeway connects with a terrace cutting into the northern side of the hill. At a later date the hillfort defences were partially remodelled in order to create a fort consisting of two defended areas. An oval-shaped enclosure, of approximately 1.1ha, was constructed around the higher and more rocky part of the hill top, and involved the enlargement of the northern sections of the eastern rampart and the inner rampart on the western side. The entrance into the hillfort was also renewed at this time. The ends of ramparts were turned inwards in order to create a narrow entrance passage about 4m wide. A more simply defined entrance, 5m wide, provided access from the northern enclosure to the defended area at the south. The ditch to the east of this entrance passage consists of a series of quarry scoops cutting into the rock, the tops of which are still plainly visible. The uneven profile of the western ditch terminal flanking the northern entrance suggests that this part of the ditch was also of similar construction. ->

-> A further alteration to the defences of the northern enclosure included the intentional infilling of the entrance passage to the southern enclosure. It would therefore appear that by this time the southern enclosure had ceased to be used. ->

-> Within the interiors of both enclosures are a series of level and gently sloping areas, which have been created by cutting into and depositing material along the more steeply sloping ground. These internal terraces are considered to be platforms on which domestic and ancillary buildings were constructed. The structural remains of which and their associated deposits will survive as buried features. ->

-> Near to the highest point within the northern enclosure are the remains of a shallow rock-cut trench, averaging 0.7m wide, defining an oval area 21m by 24m. The exact function of this feature is unclear, but it appears to be modern and may well have been the base for a military installation used during World War II, such as a searchlight battery or aircraft decoy. Holes drilled into rock outcrops nearby may be associated with this feature. ->

-> About 60m downslope from the northern entrance of the hillfort, aligned south west to north east and running across the slope, are the remains of outer defences. They consist of two short, flat-topped ramparts each with a corresponding ditch and a counters carp bank to the north west, separated by a gap of approximately 21m. The defences to the east run .up to the precipitous eastern side of the hill. The form and location of these defences suggest that they acted in some way to control access to the hillfort from the north, but it would appear that they were of limited use as defensive outworks. ->

-> On lower ground to the north west of these outer defences, and located within a separate area, is a cross dyke. This linear earthwork defines the western .side of the shelf forming the summit of Pontesford Hill and is aligned NNE-SSW along the shoulder of the hill. It consists of a bank about 190m long, and between 8m and 11m wide, bounded on the eastern side by a ditch formed by a series of irregular quarry scoops up to 6m wide. Although this ditch has been largely infilled it survives as a buried feature. The form of the bank is accentuated by the sloping ground on which it was constructed, and stands 0.8m to 1.4m high on the eastern side and between 1.4m and 2.3m high on the western side. At its northern end the bank curves inward and to the south it has a stepped profile. ->

-> In the post-medieval period Pontesford Hill was subdivided by a network of woodland boundary banks, many of which are depicted on the earliest Ordnance Survey map for the area published in 1833. One of these banks, .constructed of earth and stone, runs up the northern side of the hill near to the north eastern end of the cross dyke. It joins another bank of similar construction running along the base of the shallow valley between Pontesford Hill and Earl's Hill, and cuts across the southern tail of the cross dyke. Two 20m lengths of these two woodland boundary banks at either end of the cross dyke are included in the scheduling in order to preserve their relationship with the cross dyke. ->

-> All fence posts, together with the Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar and the way marker post on Earl's Hill, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is included. ->

-> The small multivallate hillfort on Earl's Hill and the cross dyke on Pontesford Hill are fine examples of these rare and important monument types. This multi-phased hillfort is one of a group of broadly contemporary hillforts constructed along the hills overlooking the Rea Brook valley .. The importance of the cross dyke .. Is enhanced by its proximity to, and probable association with, the hillfort on Earl's Hill <27>

An archaeological management plan was prepared in 1998 as a working document which contains a description of the monument and also provides an interpretation, the current land use and monument’s condition, measures to ensure the monuments survival including programmes of remedial work and proposals for improvements to the monuments. Earl’s Hill Camp comprises a large hillfort and a series of distant outer earthworks, approximately 5 hectares in size. It overlooks the Rea Brook Valley and has good views of the uplands to the west and the lower undulating land to the north and east. The hilltop itself can be seen for a considerable distance in all directions. No information is held by the County SMR as to when the monument was scheduled. When the hillforts situated within Earl’s Hill Nature Reserve were constructed, how long they were occupied and whether or not their defensive circuits were constructed in single operations are questions that are at present unanswerable due to lack of excavation evidence. <28>

Photographed during aerial photographic survey between 2008 and 2010. <32>-<35>

In 2010-11 two small 1m x 2m evaluation trenches were opened across a shallow gully-like feature on the summit of the hill (Guilbert and Wigley forthcoming). The schedule descriptions identifies this as a World War II feature (PRN 08062), but the excavators wished to test whether this might instead represent the remains of a pre-hillfort palisade slot similar to those seen on some sites in Northumberland. In the event, no traces of an underlying rock cut slot were found and it appears instead that, at some point in the relatively recent past, a ring of turf has been stripped from the site. ->

-> In the second trench excavated in 2011 evidence was found in the section that at least some of this turf was deposited just outside the ‘ring’. Possible interpretations include a firebreak for the beacon fire of the Silver Jubilee of George V in 1935, since the feature appears to be present on a published photograph of the beacon. ->

-> During a subsequent site visit a rabbit burrow in the southern rampart of the upper enclosure was found to have exposed a piece of vitrified stone within the rampart. Subsequent trials have suggested a magnetometer survey would provide a means of identifying the extent of burning around the rampart circuit. <36>

Visited during a condition survey by the English Heritage Field Monument Warden, in 2000. Condition recorded as generally good. <37>


<00> Shropshire County Council SMR, Site and Monuments Record (SMR) cards, SMR Card for PRN SA 01050 (Card index). SSA20722.


<01b> Chitty Lily F, Map annotation by OS Correspondent (Map annotation). SSA10824.


<01d> Cobbold E S, 1907, Church Stretton, p166-176 (Article in serial). SSA776.


<01a> Forde-Johnson J, 1962, Article in the Archaeological Journal (Article in serial). SSA3848.


<01c> Victoria County History, 1968, Victoria County History 7 (?), p251 (Volume). SSA3850.


<01> Ordnance Survey, 1977, Ordnance Survey Record Card SJ40SW1 (Card index). SSA3851.


<02> Musson Chris R, 1980-Jul-23, CPAT 80/C/0202 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA16985.


<03> Musson Chris R, 1984-Jul-22, CPAT 84/MB/0537 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA16986.


<04> Musson Chris R, 1980-Jul-23, CPAT 80/C/0198 to 0201 (4 photos) (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA16987.


<05> Musson Chris R, 1984-Dec-10, CPAT 84/37/0014 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA16988.


<06> Livock G E, Oblique View, NMR SJ4004/3 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA16989.


<07> Musson Chris R, 1980-Jul-23, CPAT 80/09/0028 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA16990.


<08> Musson Chris R, 1975-Jul-01, CPAT 75/C/0001 to 0002 (2 photos) (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA16991.


<09> Musson Chris R, 1989-Jul-02, CPAT 89/MB/0859 to 0861 (3 photos) (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA16992.


<10> Burrow Ian, 1978, Visit Notes, 1978 (Site visit report). SSA3858.


<11> Anon, 1978, Comment, 02/01/1978 (VERBAL COMMUNICATION). SSA3852.


<12> Chitty Lily F, 1961/ 1967, Article in the Transactions of the Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club, p84 (Article in serial). SSA403.


<13> Chitty Lily F, 1951/ 1956, Article in the Transactions of the Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club, p48, p57 (Article in serial). SSA556.


<14> English Heritage, Map of Scheduled area (Scheduled Monument notification). SSA3854.


<15a> Victoria County History, 1908, Victoria County History 1, p368-369 (Volume). SSA178.


<15b> Dyer J, 1981, Prehistoric England and Wales, p219 (Monograph). SSA765.


<15> Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (HBMC), 1987-Jun-15, Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 32539 (15/06/1987) (Field Monument Warden Report). SSA3857.


<16> Tyler Alan W, 1979, Text for Display at Earls Hill Barn (TEXT). SSA3849.


<17> English Heritage, 1990, Map of Scheduled area, 1990 (Scheduled Monument notification). SSA3853.


<18> Burrow Ian, 1978, Earlshill, Pontesbury (Photograph). SSA3856.


<19> Anon, 1980, Earl's Hill, Pontesbury (Photograph). SSA3855.


<20> Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, 1980, Oblique View of Earl's Hill, Pontesbury, 1980 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA16993.


<21> Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, Oblique View of Earl's Hill (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA19791.


<22> Musson Chris R, 1984-Dec-11, CPAT 84/C/0519 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA19792.


<23> Musson Chris R, 1992-May-03, CPAT 92/C/0643 to 0645 (3 photos) (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA19793.


<24> Burrow Ian, 1977/ 1978, Earls Hill Camp (Photograph). SSA10767.


<25> Musson Chris R, 1979-Jul-25, CPAT 79/CI/0022 to 0029 (8 photos) (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA19794.


<26> Horton Wendy B, 1990/ 1991, MPP Evaluation File (TEXT). SSA20084.


<27> English Heritage, 2001, Scheduling Papers (Revised Scheduling, 18/09/2001) (Scheduled Monument notification). SSA20693.


<28> Reid Malcolm L, 1998, Earl's Hill Nature Reserve - An Archaeological Management Plan (Management report). SSA20867.


<29> Musson Chris R, 2000-Mar-05, CPAT 00/MB/2028 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA21672.


<30> Musson Chris R, 2000-Mar-05, CPAT 00/MB/2030 to 2032 (3 photos) (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA21674.


<31> Watson Michael D, 2002, Shropshire An Archaeological Guide, p26-28 (Monograph). SSA22535.


<32> Shropshire Council, 2007-Aug-5, SA0704_128 to SA0704_130 (3 photos) Flight: 07_SA_04 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA25093.


<33> Shropshire Council, 2010-Mar-8, SA1005_016 to SA1005_032 (17 photos) Flight: 10_SA_05 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA26619.


<34> Shropshire Council, 2008-Jan-6, SA0801_149 to SA0801_152 (4 photos) Flight: 08_SA_01 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA25238.


<35> Shropshire Council, 2008-Jul-26, SA0811_001 to SA0811_003 (3 photos) Flight: 08_SA_11 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA25442.


<36> Dorling P & Wigley A, 2012, Assessment of the archaeological and conservation status of major later prehistoric enclosures in Herefordshire and Shropshire, p.37; 199 (Archaeological fieldwork report). SSA24361.


<37> Leigh Judith, 2001, Scheduled Ancient Monuments in the Shropshire Hills ESA: Brief Condition Survey (Field survey report). SSA20802.

Sources

[00]SSA20722 - Card index: Shropshire County Council SMR. Site and Monuments Record (SMR) cards. SMR record cards. SMR Card for PRN SA 01050.
[01b]SSA10824 - Map annotation: Chitty Lily F. Map annotation by OS Correspondent.
[01a]SSA3848 - Article in serial: Forde-Johnson J. 1962. Article in the Archaeological Journal. Archaeol J. Vol 119. p66-91.
[01c]SSA3850 - Volume: Victoria County History. 1968. Victoria County History 7 (?). Victoria County History of Shropshire. Vol 7. p251.
[01]SSA3851 - Card index: Ordnance Survey. 1977. Ordnance Survey Record Card SJ40SW1. Ordnance Survey record cards. SJ40SW1.
[01d]SSA776 - Article in serial: Cobbold E S. 1907. Church Stretton. Trans Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Ser 3, Vol VII (=Vol 30). p166-176.
[02]SSA16985 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1980-Jul-23. CPAT 80/C/0202. Colour. 35mm.
[03]SSA16986 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1984-Jul-22. CPAT 84/MB/0537. Black and white. Medium.
[04]SSA16987 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1980-Jul-23. CPAT 80/C/0198 to 0201 (4 photos). Colour. 35mm.
[05]SSA16988 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1984-Dec-10. CPAT 84/37/0014.
[06]SSA16989 - Oblique aerial photograph: Livock G E. Oblique View, NMR SJ4004/3. Black and white. 35mm.
[07]SSA16990 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1980-Jul-23. CPAT 80/09/0028.
[08]SSA16991 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1975-Jul-01. CPAT 75/C/0001 to 0002 (2 photos). Black and White from Colour. 35mm.
[09]SSA16992 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1989-Jul-02. CPAT 89/MB/0859 to 0861 (3 photos). Black and White. Medium.
[10]SSA3858 - Site visit report: Burrow Ian. 1978. Visit Notes, 1978.
[11]SSA3852 - VERBAL COMMUNICATION: Anon. 1978. Comment, 02/01/1978.
[12]SSA403 - Article in serial: Chitty Lily F. 1961/ 1967. Article in the Transactions of the Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club. Trans Caradoc Severn Valley Fld Club. Vol 16. p84.
[13]SSA556 - Article in serial: Chitty Lily F. 1951/ 1956. Article in the Transactions of the Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club. Trans Caradoc Severn Valley Fld Club. Vol 14. p48, p57.
[14]SSA3854 - Scheduled Monument notification: English Heritage. Map of Scheduled area.
[15a]SSA178 - Volume: Victoria County History. 1908. Victoria County History 1. Victoria County History of Shropshire. Vol 1. p368-369.
[15]SSA3857 - Field Monument Warden Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (HBMC). 1987-Jun-15. Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 32539 (15/06/1987).
[15b]SSA765 - Monograph: Dyer J. 1981. Prehistoric England and Wales. p219.
[16]SSA3849 - TEXT: Tyler Alan W. 1979. Text for Display at Earls Hill Barn.
[17]SSA3853 - Scheduled Monument notification: English Heritage. 1990. Map of Scheduled area, 1990.
[18]SSA3856 - Photograph: Burrow Ian. 1978. Earlshill, Pontesbury. Colour.
[19]SSA3855 - Photograph: Anon. 1980. Earl's Hill, Pontesbury. Colour.
[20]SSA16993 - Oblique aerial photograph: Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust. 1980. Oblique View of Earl's Hill, Pontesbury, 1980. Colour.
[21]SSA19791 - Oblique aerial photograph: Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust. Oblique View of Earl's Hill. Colour.
[22]SSA19792 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1984-Dec-11. CPAT 84/C/0519. Colour. 35mm.
[23]SSA19793 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1992-May-03. CPAT 92/C/0643 to 0645 (3 photos). Colour. 35mm.
[24]SSA10767 - Photograph: Burrow Ian. 1977/ 1978. Earls Hill Camp. Black and white. 35mm.
[25]SSA19794 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1979-Jul-25. CPAT 79/CI/0022 to 0029 (8 photos).
[26]SSA20084 - TEXT: Horton Wendy B. 1990/ 1991. MPP Evaluation File.
[27]SSA20693 - Scheduled Monument notification: English Heritage. 2001. Scheduling Papers (Revised Scheduling, 18/09/2001). 34903.
[28]SSA20867 - Management report: Reid Malcolm L. 1998. Earl's Hill Nature Reserve - An Archaeological Management Plan.
[29]SSA21672 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 2000-Mar-05. CPAT 00/MB/2028. Black and White. Medium.
[30]SSA21674 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 2000-Mar-05. CPAT 00/MB/2030 to 2032 (3 photos). Black and White. Medium.
[31]SSA22535 - Monograph: Watson Michael D. 2002. Shropshire An Archaeological Guide. p26-28.
[32]SSA25093 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2007-Aug-5. SA0704_128 to SA0704_130 (3 photos) Flight: 07_SA_04. Colour. Digital.
[33]SSA26619 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2010-Mar-8. SA1005_016 to SA1005_032 (17 photos) Flight: 10_SA_05. Colour. Digital.
[34]SSA25238 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2008-Jan-6. SA0801_149 to SA0801_152 (4 photos) Flight: 08_SA_01. Colour. Digital.
[35]SSA25442 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2008-Jul-26. SA0811_001 to SA0811_003 (3 photos) Flight: 08_SA_11. Colour. Digital.
[36]SSA24361 - Archaeological fieldwork report: Dorling P & Wigley A. 2012. Assessment of the archaeological and conservation status of major later prehistoric enclosures in Herefordshire and Shropshire. p.37; 199.
[37]SSA20802 - Field survey report: Leigh Judith. 2001. Scheduled Ancient Monuments in the Shropshire Hills ESA: Brief Condition Survey.
Date Last Edited:Aug 4 2017 3:19PM