Located on Yatton Hill, Croft Ambrey is situated in the civil parish of Aymestrey, nestled 6 miles (10 km) to the north of Leominster. It is also about 3.5 miles (6 km) southeast from the border of South Shropshire, and roughly 7 miles (11 km) to the east of the Wales border. The fort occupies elevated terrain that extends beyond and is adjacent to the northeastern boundary of the National Trust Croft Castle parkland.

This monument includes a small multivallate hillfort with an annexe containing a Romano-Celtic temple and a medieval warren of up to five pillow mounds situated on the summit of a prominent steeply sloping spur overlooking Yatton Marsh and the valley of a tributary to Allcock’s Brook.

Description of Croft Ambrey Hillfort

Multivallate Hillfort

The hillfort is roughly triangular in shape, with its northern boundary defined by two scarps and a buried ditch. To the west, there are three rampart banks and a larger internal ditch, while the southern boundary is marked by three rampart banks, two medial ditches, and a wide internal ditch that may have been used for water storage. Over time, there were modifications to the entrances, which had a total of 20 successive gateposts and were further fortified with guardrooms, corridors, and bridges. The southwestern entrance served as the principal entrance, while the northeastern entrance was complex and inturned.


This triangular Iron-Age Hillfort started as a settlement in c1050BC, with sheer slopes to N and a small rampart and ditch to S and W. There were rows of 4-post buildings inside, possibly granaries. It covered an area of approximately 2.2 hectares. A rectangular annex was added to the south, which is defined by two slight concentric banks.

Later extended in c460BC to 3.6ha with a massive rampart and 2 gates at SW and E, both with guard-chambers. Huts were rebuilt, and stood in rows along streets. Archaeological evidence of extensive grain production and stock rearing (mostly sheep), and weaving. An annexe of 4.8ha was probably an animal corral.

Occupation seems to have ended c48AD

Romano Celtic Temple at Croft Ambrey Hillfort

Within the annexe of the hillfort, an excavated temple was discovered, constructed in two phases. The first phase consisted of a terrace with evidence of fire pits and stake holes, along with pottery fragments including Samian ware found amidst the ashes from the fires. This was later replaced by a square mound that was defined by a drystone-built kerb, suggesting it may have served as a ceremonial centre or sanctuary, similar to other temples of the time.

Warren at Croft Ambrey Hillfort

Additionally, within the hillfort and its annex, up to five rectangular pillow mounds were found, accompanied by associated ditches, indicating the presence of a warren. These pillow mounds varied in size, ranging from 9.1 meters to 73 meters in length, and 6.4 meters to 7.3 meters in width, with heights reaching up to 0.8 meters.

This practice of creating warrens dates back to the 12th century, following the introduction of rabbits into England from the continent. Pillow mounds or rabbit buries were purpose-built breeding places designed to centralize the colony and facilitate the catching of rabbits using nets, ferrets, or dogs. This would have provided a constant supply of fresh meat and skins for the inhabitants of the hillfort during the relevant period of history.

Excavations at Croft Ambrey Hillfort

Croft Ambrey has been known about since the seventeenth century and was surveyed in the 1930s (RCHME 1934). It underwent excavations from 1960 to 1966, revealed a long period of occupation spanning from the 6th century BC to AD 48. It is estimated that the hillfort was home to a population of 500 to 900 individuals.

Numerous artefacts were discovered during the excavations, including metalwork such as iron tools, weapons, sickles, blades, nails, and a spade. Other findings included objects made from shale and glass, bone and antler artefacts, spindle whorls, loom and thatch weights, saddle querns and rotary querns, hammer stones, and Iron Age pottery. Finds in Hereford and Birmingham City Museums.

Interestingly, parallels were drawn between Croft Ambrey and the hillfort at Wapley Hill, as both sites were believed to have been used for rabbit farming, showcasing similarities in their functions and activities.

Map References for Croft Ambrey – Aymestrey, Hereford & Worcester

NGRef: SO444668

OSMap: LR137/148/149

Sites near Croft Ambrey Hillfort