Little Doward Camp

Little Doward camp is a large and prominent inland promontory fort situated on the major bends of the River Wye. The multivallate hillfort survives as the earthworks of an oval enclosure with an appended rectangular annexe to the south east. The terrain is precipitous and rocky, and the hillfort is situated in a strategic location to dominate the Wye. The internal area of the fort covers 7.8 hectares and there are indications of possible two phases of construction.

Little Doward in the Bronze Age

This area also contains at least two bowl barrows measuring up to 9m in diameter and 1m high surrounded by buried quarry ditches from which the construction material was derived.  Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. 

The Hillfort at Little Doward Camp

At the summit of the Little Doward lies the Iron Age hillfort, consisting of three distinct sections. The main enclosure is accompanied by two annex areas: a rectangular section known as “annex 1,” which is located to the east and bordered by limestone cliffs, and another section to the west of the main enclosure known as “annex 2,” which occupies level ground.

Main Enclosure

The primary enclosure covers an area of 6 hectares and is enclosed by a rampart that surrounds the entire space, except for the connecting link to annex 1. On the south side, the rampart consists of a single bank without a ditch, as the steep slope offers ample natural defence. Moving clockwise along the rampart, the bank is supplemented by a ditch and counterscarp bank on the west side. This arrangement continues on the west and north sides until it joins annex 1. However, the development of the 19th-century designed landscape associated with Wyastone Leys has modified the rampart circuit.

Notably, the bank of the southern rampart has been substantially reduced in height and leveled to form the promenade described by Rev Webb in the 19th century. Material from the bank was then pushed into the hillfort’s interior.

Rectangular Annexe 1

The area known as Annex 1 covers 3 hectares and is bordered to the west by a track which separates it from the main enclosure, while cliffs define its northern, eastern, and southern sides. A portion of rampart is situated on the north side, extending westwards from the cliff’s end towards the main enclosure’s rampart. At its western end, this rampart turns inwards to the southwest. The presence of an internal rampart between Annex 1 and the main enclosure may have been suggested by this, along with the bank and ditch that extends north from the southwest corner of Annex 1.

Rectangular Annexe 2

The plateau area to the west of the main enclosure is occupied by Annex 2, which covers an area of 1.5 hectares. Its southern boundary is marked by a steep slope, while the western and northern boundaries are defined by banks that were altered during the 19th-century parkland development. Although the evidence is limited, it is significant enough to suggest that Annex 2 was part of the hillfort. The bank on the west side was previously thought to be a tram road to the iron tower, but this interpretation is unlikely as its width and level are not consistent. The bank is also home to several ancient coppiced beech trees, and an old quarry ditch can be found to the east (HSM 45169). The north end of the bank is marked by a large, irregular bank that has been heavily modified during the parkland development. To the north of this is a ditch that extends from the northwest angle of the main enclosure to the edge of the steep slope. These features have been interpreted as an outwork to the main enclosure (RCHME, 1931), and field evidence supports this interpretation.

Excavation at Little Doward

Recent excavations in 2009 and 2011 (Dorling et al 2012) revealed evidence of early and middle Iron Age occupation, with C14 dating providing further support for this.

The interior contains a number of scoops thought to represent contemporary buildings.

Sites near Little Doward Camp