Cilifor Top

Iron Age Hillfort

Cilifor Top is an isolated and large multivallate site is located on a NW-SE ridge, commanding the estuary of the Afon Loughor and Llanrhidian Marsh on the Gower Peninsula. The site is characterized by steep slopes to the north, east, and west, with a plateau connecting to a ridge on the south, which gradually falls to the salt marsh on the northwest. The site is roughly oblong in shape, measuring 320m in a NW-SE direction and 110m in width, with an internal area of 2.9ha.

The site is strongly defended with up to three ramparts, which are stony to the north, and a small medieval ringwork of 0.1ha at the southeastern end, measuring approximately 40m in an east-west direction and 30m in width. A narrow section cut by L.L. Morgan in 1910 revealed an inner rampart of disintegrated shale that incorporated a possible earlier bank of yellow clay. A ditch approximately 7.5m wide and 2.5m deep was found and generally appears to have not been present on the very steep slopes of the northeastern and northwestern sides.

A second bank, which has been leveled but had a ditch approximately 4m wide and 1.5m deep, with a counterscarp visible on the western corner, suggests a revetment or breastwork. Trenches also cut across the ringwork, but no finds were discovered in either section. The inner rampart is preserved and runs around the entire circuit to an outer bank that is 7.5m wide. There is a wide internal quarry ditch on the northwest side, and the outer defenses have been badly damaged by cultivation, but the second bank is still substantial, though lost to the southwest, as found by Morgan. To the southwest corner, across the col, a third rampart, much reduced, can be traced, with its crest about 40m from the second bank. Here, the defenses are particularly massive, measuring 85m across. The only entrance to the site is on the southwest side, with a simple gap and a large mound commanding the approach to the gate. There are two terraced roadways, one of which appears to be blocked by the second rampart, suggesting a possible earlier univallate fort, although there is no direct evidence to support this theory, despite Morgan’s suggestion of an earlier bank in his excavations. There is evidence of past quarrying to the northwest, and the interior of the site is currently used for pasture, although it has been cultivated in the past. There are also traces of hut platforms, and the site is depicted on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map (1878-79).

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