Please read our .

Authority English Heritage
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 73
Date assigned Friday, October 2, 1936
Date last amended Friday, October 15, 1993


REASONS FOR DESIGNATION Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes, generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth - fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for between 150 and 200 years prior to their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few examples. Internal features include square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six postholes and interpreted as raised granaries, timber or stone round houses, large storage pits and hearths as well as scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies. Slight univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally. Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance. The hillfort on Mam Tor is a well-preserved example of a slight univallate hillfort. Although the earthwork defences are somewhat disturbed by land slippage, and the interior and north entrance by visitor erosion, substantial areas are intact and include the south entrance and the main occupation areas. The use of the tor as a focus for prehistoric burials, illustrated by the two bowl barrows at the south end of the monument, demonstrates that human activity on the tor was of considerable antiquity by the time the hillfort was constructed. Bowl barrows are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age (c.2400-1500BC) and were constructed as hemispherical mounds of rubble or earth covering single or multiple burials. Sometimes ditched, they occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as foci for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, though differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally, with many more having already been destroyed. Their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important evidence on burial practices and social organisation among early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. The examples on Mam Tor survive reasonably well and retain significant archaeological remains. The re-use of one of the barrows as a World War II searchlight emplacement is also of interest, though it will have considerably reduced the likelihood of archaeological evidence surviving well. DETAILS Mam Tor is a steep-sided hogsback ridge of alternating sandstone and shale situated at the junction of the northern gritstone moors and the limestone plateau of Derbyshire. The monument includes the slight univallate hillfort occupying the summit of the ridge and the two bowl barrows within the interior of the hillfort. The fort comprises a tongue-shaped area of c.6ha enclosed by a single line of defensive earthworks including a rampart, berm, ditch and counterscarp bank. On the west side, the earthworks exhibit two modern breaches but formerly extended in an unbroken line from south-west to north-east for c.400m. On the east side, they extend roughly north to south for c.300m, meeting the western circuit on the north side of the hillfort at an inturned entrance. On the south side, both circuits end above sheer cliff faces which are themselves linked by a straight section of earthworks c.200m long. A second inturned entrance lies at the western end of this section. The rampart follows the 480m contour round the edge of the tor but the interior of the hillfort rises for a further 38m to the central ridge. On either side of the ridge, the remains of hut platforms can be seen cut into the west and east-facing slopes. Partial excavations of the eastern defences and nine of the hut platforms were carried out by the University of Manchester between 1965 and 1969. The defences were examined by cutting two trenches across the width of the earthworks. The first, taken from the inside of the rampart to the outside of the counterscarp bank, lay 36m south of the north entrance and the second, taken across the rampart only, lay 57m south of that. The first showed that, at this point, the rampart had been built on a level platform cut into the slope, following the line of a turf marker bank. It survived to a height of 3m above the old land surface and was 5.4m wide. It was of box-rampart construction, created from successive layers of various materials including soil, clay mixed with stones, and rubble. To the rear, a slight retaining wall was built on natural shale and had further material dumped behind it. To therefore, the existence of a stronger retaining wall was indicated by a number of large in situ stones and several smaller stones which had rolled downhill and were found in the ditch fill. The rampart had been heightened at some stage, as indicated by the existence of at least one intermediate line of turf within the layers of earth and stones. In contrast, the second trench showed no evidence of the rampart being heightened further south. Although retained by walls and of similar construction to the more northerly section, it was slighter and had not been built on a previously levelled platform. It is assumed that the steepness of the hillside at this point precluded the need for more massive defences whereas, round the northern entrance, not only is the slope more gentle and therefore less defensible, the earthworks would have appeared less imposing to people approaching the hillfort. In front of the rampart, above the ditch which is now largely silted up, is a sloping berm or terrace. Where the trench cut across, this was found to be c.7.5m wide and the ditch to be 2.4m wide across the top. The ditch had a roughly U-shaped profile and was 1.6m-1.8m deep. The counterscarp bank was c.2m wide and 1m high and constructed of soil dumped on the old land surface then covered with rubble. Although the ditch is relatively slight, the gradient of the hillside is such that the effective height of the defences, from the bottom of the ditch to the top of the rampart, is c.9m. In addition, the circuit may also have included a timber palisade. During the excavation of the second trench, a circular posthole indicative of a palisade was found in front of the revetment wall, but it could not be determined whether the feature was contemporary with the earthwork defences or earlier. All of the excavated hut platforms exhibited similar features. A level surface had been created by digging into the side of the hill to form the site of a circular hut with walls either of turf or stone. Internal features included hearths, postholes and stakeholes, storage pits and gullies. A variety of small finds were recovered, including whetstones, fragments of shale bracelets, and large quantities of pot sherds. The latter indicated a single phase of occupation during the early first millennium BC which was confirmed by radiocarbon dating of charcoal from two of the huts. Earlier finds included flint tools and a Neolithic polished stone axe, indicative of possible settlement in the third millennium BC, prior to the construction of the hillfort. In addition, a fragment of a socketed bronze axe was found in one of the huts. This item has been dated typologically to c.600BC and indicates the possible use of the hillfort in the final phase of the Bronze Age, five hundred years after the other excavated huts were inhabited. The above excavations were confined to the northern third of the hillfort. Of the two bowl barrows located in the southern third, one was said by Thomas Bateman to have been partially excavated by persons unknown in the early19th century when human bones, prehistoric pottery and a bronze flat axe were found. It is not certain whether the other barrow has been excavated or which of the barrows is the excavated example. The best preserved of the barrows lies behind the south-west entrance into the hillfort and, due to its location, may have been re-used as the site of a look-out or guard-post when the hillfort was constructed. It is a roughly circular steep-sided mound with a diameter of 20.5m by 19.5m and a height of c.2m. The other barrow, which lies 80m to the north-east at the highest point of the ridge, was damaged during World War II when it was partially levelled to create a searchlight emplacement. It is now the site of a trig point. The trig point and all National Trust fittings and fixtures are excluded from the scheduling although the ground underneath is included. SELECTED SOURCES Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, John - Title: The Peak District Barrow Survey - Date: 1989 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: Site 18;13 Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, John - Title: The Peak District Barrow Survey - Date: 1989 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: Site 18;5 Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, John - Title: The Peak District Barrow Survey - Date: 1989 - Type: PLAN: MEASURED - Description: Site 18;5 Book Reference - Author: Bateman, T. - Title: Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire - Date: 1848 - Page References: 9, 124 - Type: DESC TEXT Book Reference - Author: Coombs, D.G. - Title: Excavations at Mam Tor, Derbyshire 1965-69 - Date: 1976 - Journal Title: Hillforts, Later Prehistoric Earthworks in Britain and Ireland - Page References: 147-52 - Type: DESC TEXT Book Reference - Author: Coombs, D.G. - Title: Excavations at Mam Tor, Derbyshire 1965-69 - Date: 1976 - Journal Title: Hillforts, Later Prehistoric Earthworks in Britain and Ireland - Page References: 414-20 - Type: DESC TEXT Article Reference - Author: Burgess, C.B. - Title: Some decorated socketed axes in Canon Greenwell's Collection - Date: 1969 - Journal Title: Yorkshire Archaeological Journal - Volume: 42 - Page References: 267-272 - Type: DESC TEXT Article Reference - Author: Coombs, D.G. and F.H. Thompson - Title: Excavation of the Hill Fort of Mam Tor, Derbyshire 1965-69 - Date: 1979 - Journal Title: Derbyshire Archaeological Journal - Volume: 99 - Page References: 7-51 - Type: EXCAVATION REPORT

External Links (0)

Sources (1)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1936. Scheduling Notification: Slight univallate hillfort and two bowl barrows on Mam Tor. List entry no. 1011206. SM Cat. No. 73.



Grid reference Centred SK 1276 8372 (337m by 432m)
Map sheet SK18SW

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Record last edited

Aug 30 2013 4:50PM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.