Crickley Hill

Little Witcombe, Gloucestershire

NGRef: SO928161
OSMap: LR163
Sitetype: Nce/IApf

Neolithic Causewayed Camp

The first settlement on the site was a causewayed camp of the New Stone Age. This encampment was encircled by two interrupted ditches, the stone outcast from which was piled into embankments on the outer sides. There were two narrow entrances to the central enclosure with gateways reached over uncut causeways across the defences. Although no occupation evidence such as post-holes or storage-pits have been discovered which can be attributed to this period, the discovery of hundreds of flint arrowheads embedded in the ramparts proves that the site was at least used as a place of refuge. Traces of a burned palisade atop the defences are co-incident with the termination of this first occupation period, which is thought to have lasted between 3,500 to 2,500 BC. Evidence suggests that the camp was built in two phases, with the second causeway added later.

Iron Age Promontory Hillfort

After a long period of abandonment the promontory hill-top was re-settled during the Iron Age when a triangular area of around 9 acres was fortified by a 10 foot (3m) high drystone wall fronted by a deep, rock-cut ditch erected across the eastern end of the promontory. There was a narrow entrance passage on the north. Settlement in the Iron Age was in three phases:

  1. Started during the 7th/6th century BC, the first rampart was drystone-faced, the front being vertical and the rear built-up in steps. The rampart was strengthened by a frame of vertical and horizontal timbers. A roadway led from the northern gateway through the centre of the fort with at least six rectangular long-houses measuring between 25 to 75 feet abutting onto the road. These houses were surrounded by 12-foot square timber storage structures. It is thought that the fort housed between 50 to 200 people, but was abandoned after only a couple of generations. It is probable that the fort was attacked as both the gateway and interior buildings were destroyed by fire.
  2. After a short period the fort was re-occupied and the defenses strengthened, with the addition of a new vertical drystone front backed by a simple dump rampart. The roadway from the gate this time led to a 50 foot diameter roundhouse dwelling with a west-facing porch, surrounded by five other huts, with diameters ranging from 16 to 25 feet, each provided with porches facing south-east.
  3. After a short period the main gateway was provided with a couple of massive stone bastions, and an additional external gateway protected by a large outwork. Occupation seems to have, once again, been curtailed by violence and the buildings destroyed by fire. Occupancy of the fort ended in the late 6th century BC.

The fort has been extensively excavated and the various interior building have been indicated by posts fixed in the original post-holes and colour coded by period.