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HER Number (PRN):01055
Name:Pontesford Hill (Lower) Camp Hillfort
Type of Record:Monument
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1019829: Pontesford Hill Camp

Monument Type(s):


Scheduled Monument: A good example of a nationally rare type of hillfort (relatively small, with multiple ramparts) found mostly in the Marches, and one of a group along the Rea Brook valley. These hillforts are generally regarded as permanently occupied high status Iron Age settlements.

Parish:Pontesbury, Shrewsbury and Atcham, Shropshire
Map Sheet:SJ40NW
Grid Reference:SJ 4086 0557

Related records: None recorded

Associated Finds

  • FSA147 - SCRAPER (TOOL) (Early Neolithic to Late Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FSA207 - WORKED OBJECT (Early Neolithic to Late Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)

Associated Events

  • ESA1153 - 1963 Emergency excavation of southern defences, Pontesford Hill Camp by Philip Barker
  • ESA1154 - 1965 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA1155 - 1971 field observation by the Ordnance Survey
  • ESA1156 - 1978 field observation by SCC SMR
  • ESA1157 - 1981 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA1158 - 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
  • ESA9312 - 2020 Heritage setting assessment, Earlsdale Fishery, The Green, Pontesford, Shrewsbury by Nexus Heritage (Ref: 19/05522/FUL)


The lower hillfort on Pontesford Hill covers an area of about 2.75 acres. The defences seem to have consisted of an inner rampart, a berm, an outer rampart, an outer ditch and an outer counterscarp bank, although at no point are all these features preserved together, and those on the eastern side have been largely destroyed by a forestry road. The entrance to the camp is at the southern end, facing the northern slope of the upper part of the hill. It is suggested that the earthworks form a subsidiary or satellite fort to SA1050 higher up the hill. In 1963 excavation took place outside the main entrance, at about SJ4085 0551. An area 13ft x 50ft was stripped adjacent to a section of the counterscarp rampart. Three large postholes were found on the top of the rampart. The earliest features were a number of gullies containing Neolithic flints. There were other structures of unknown date stratified above these gullies and below the rampart <1a>

Site visited 2/1/78. Set on a slight knoll at the N end of Pontesford Hill, with steep slopes on W, N and E and a slight col between the S side and the main slope of the hill. Mostly clear of trees. The earthworks are in fair condition except on the SE where the Forestry road has damaged them and to the south of this the two outer banks are much disturbed and confused by other features. The earthworks are otherwise as described by [<1a>] with the following additional details. The entrance gap is simple and steep, and may originally have been staggered, with the gap through the outer defences being slightly offset to the E, since the line of the outer ditch is continued by a low bank which crosses the line of the entrance gap. There is some sign of a third line of defence within that shown on the OS map on the SE interior, but this may be largely a natural feature. The ramparts have been quarried on the SE side. The interior and defences are crossed by an old land boundary from NNW/SSE <2>

Assertion that earthworks form a satellite fort to PRN 01050 [<1a>] is marked "Very dubious and by its nature unproveable" on the OS card <11>

Evaluated for MPP in 1990-1: High score as one of 18 Small Multivallate hillforts <12>

Scheduling revised in 2001. Scheduling description: ->

-> The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a small multivallate hillfort, situated on the northern spur of Pontesford Hill with a commanding view of Rea Brook valley, the uplands to the west and the undulating lowlands to the north. It lies 0.7km to the south of the multiple enclosure hillfort on Earl's Hill, which is the subject of a separate scheduling. ->

-> Pontesford Hill Camp was constructed around a steeply-sided shelf. To the south the surrounding ground rises steeply towards Earl's Hill. The hillfort is oval in plan, with overall dimensions of 105m north west to south east by 140m south west to north east. The defensive circuit defines an area of about 0.3ha. Its size would suggest it was the settlement of a small community, perhaps several related family groups or a single extended family group. The earthwork defences of the hillfort consist of two principal ramparts separated by a ditch. The outer faces of the ramparts survive as steep scarps, which closely follow the contours of the hill. On the north west side the outer rampart coincides with a rock outcrop. The ditch, which has been largely infilled, is discernible as a terrace or as a shallow depression, but will survive as a buried feature. Around the north eastern : part of the circuit an outer ditch bounded by an external rampart provided an additional line of defence. Outer defences were also constructed around the southern half of the main circuit, on either side of entrance causeway into the fort. These outer defences consist of a rampart partly defined by ditches. ->

-> Access to the interior of the hillfort was from the south west, where the innermost rampart turns inwards to form an entrance passage about 3.5m wide. The outer lines of defence on southern and south eastern sides have been partially modified by the construction of a forest track. On the southern side, to the east of the entrance causeway, this track follows the course of the ditch separating the two principal ramparts. In 1963, following the widening of the track, an archaeological investigation was undertaken to examine the southern part of the outer defences, to the east of the entrance causeway. A trench dug was through the middle rampart, and along the top post holes were found, which marked the position of a palisade or fence. The excavation also revealed a complex sequence of occupation, of at least three phases, which pre-dated the hillfort. The earliest phase consisted of gullies cutting into the natural clay subsoil, associated with flint artefacts, most notably an early Neolithic scraper. The subsequent phases revealed were undated and consisted of pebble surfaces in association with post-built structures, together with a rubbish pit containing charcoal. ->

-> In the post-medieval period, the hillfort and the surrounding area was subdivided by a network of woodland boundary banks. A low boundary bank cuts across the southern part of the outer defences and originally may have connected with the more prominent boundary bank, orientated north west to south east, that runs across the hillfort. The more prominent boundary bank is depicted on the Ordnance Survey 'Old' Series map, published in 1833. Both parts of these boundary banks are included in the scheduling in order to preserve their relationship with the hillfort. The surface of the track, the waymarker post and all fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is included <13>

An Archaeological Management Plan was prepared for Pontesford Hill Camp 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. Pontesford Hill Camp is a small hillfort approximately 1.25 hectares in size, situated at the northern end of the Pontesford Hill. It overlooks the Rea Brook Valley and has good views of the uplands to the west and the lower undulating land to the north. The hillfort was scheduled in 1934 and the scheduled area extended in 1966 to include the area outside the main hillfort defences, opposite the entrance. 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. <14>

In the early 1960s the widening of a forestry track, which had previously been cut through the earthworks on the eastern side of the hillfort, led Philip Barker (1b) to undertake a small scale rescue excavation. This provided a section through the middle bank, or ‘counterscarp rampart’ as Barker termed it, which showed that a line of posts had been set within it, which may have formed part of a palisade. Sealed beneath the bank Barker found a series of surfaces which he interpreted as evidence for two phases of occupation of Neolithic and later date. <15>

Visited during a condition survey by the English Heritage Field Monument Warden, in 2000. Condition recorded as fair. Some management recommendations made. <16>


[00]SSA20722 - Card index: Shropshire County Council SMR. Site and Monuments Record (SMR) cards. SMR record cards. SMR Card for PRN SA 01055.
[01a]SSA3848 - Article in serial: Forde-Johnson J. 1962. Article in the Archaeological Journal. Archaeol J. Vol 119. p66-91.
[01b]SSA3891 - Article in monograph: Barker Philip A. 1972. An Emergency Excavation at Pontesford Hill Camp 1963. Prehistoric Man in Wales and the West. Lynch & Burgess. p345-353.
[01]SSA3893 - Card index: Ordnance Survey. 1977. Ordnance Survey Record Card SJ40NW4. Ordnance Survey record cards. SJ40NW4.
[02]SSA3896 - Site visit report: Burrow Ian. 1978-Jan-02. Visit Notes, 02/01/1978.
[03]SSA3892 - Newsletter: Anon. 1963. Shropshire Newsletter. Shropshire Newsl. No 23. p3-4.
[04]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. p72, p76-77.
[05]SSA4781 - Newsletter: Anon. 1963. West Midlands Archaeological News Sheet vol 6. West Midlands Archaeological News Sheet. Vol 6. p8.
[06]SSA17004 - Oblique aerial photograph: Livock G E. Oblique View, NMR 4005/1. Black and white.
[08]SSA3895 - Field Monument Warden Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (HBMC). 1987-Jun-15. Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 32544 (15/06/1987).
[09]SSA3890 - Correspondence: Various. 1990. Correspondence, 1990.
[10]SSA3894 - Scheduled Monument notification: Ministry of Works. 1961. Map of Scheduled area, 1961.
[11]SSA20676 - SMR comment: Burrow Ian. Comments by SMR compiler on SMR cards. SMR card for PRN 01055.
[12]SSA20084 - TEXT: Horton Wendy B. 1990/ 1991. MPP Evaluation File.
[13]SSA20677 - Scheduled Monument notification: English Heritage. 2001. Scheduling Papers (Revised Scheduling, 09/05/2001). 33839.
[14]SSA20867 - Management report: Reid Malcolm L. 1998. Earl's Hill Nature Reserve - An Archaeological Management Plan.
[15]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. pp.34; 213.
[16]SSA20802 - Field survey report: Leigh Judith. 2001. Scheduled Ancient Monuments in the Shropshire Hills ESA: Brief Condition Survey.
Date Last Edited:Aug 3 2020 11:11AM