Remains of a large multivallate hillfort, defensive annex, dyke and pillow mound situated in a commanding position on Midsummer and Hollybush Hills, west of the River Severn. The site was first recorded by antiquarians and not extensively excavated until the 1960s by S C Stanford. English Heritage's most recent survey in 1999 recorded over 483 hut platforms within the hill fort.
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- HILLFORT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
Remains of a large multivallate hillfort, defensive annex, dyke and pillow mound situated in a commanding position on Midsummer and Hollybush Hills, west of the River Severn. The monument survives as the visible earthworks and buried features of a hillfort, annex enclosure, terracing, stone hut circles, boundary dyke and pillow mound.
 The first detailed record of the site was made by H. H. Lines sometime before the 1870s [ENA8054]. Lines' plan of Midsummer Hill Camp included circular and elongated mounds and both terraces and hut platforms within the interior. In 1879 Hilton Price, in his paper ‘Camps on the Malvern Hills’ quoted H H Lines as having noted 10 or 11 terraces on the east-facing slopes of Midsummer Hill within the fort, supporting around 244 ‘hut hollows’ (1880, 217). Price could not record these hollows in 1879 because, at the time of his explorations of the site, they were mostly obscured by vegetation. However, he did excavate 5 of them [ENA8055], with little result except for finds of brick and charcoal fragments, and some further of the circular hollows on Hollybush Hill. He also dug into the long mound on the same hill, which, with first-hand interpretive assistance from General Pitt-Rivers, he concluded was an artificial rabbit-warren mound.
In February 1924, the Reverend Somers Cocks excavated a hut site close to the north entrance, and later in the same year I T Hughes excavated further areas within the fort [ENA8056], including a large circular hut platform with rough paving around its circumference, what sounds like the round mound noted above (located on the western slopes of the summit ridge of Hollybush Hill), a ‘raised platform’ within the inner bank of the hillfort to the west of the north entrance, two trenches across the ditch west of the north entrance, another trench through the long mound, and a hut-hollow to the south-west of the long mound. The latter produced more evidence for paving, but also what sound like post-holes, while the trenches across the ditch indicated not only a two-phase construction of the enclosure earthworks, but also the use of Llandovery Sandstone to face the outer scarp of the ditch and support the counter-scarp bank.
Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England (RCHME) staff surveyed the site in the years before 1932 (see frontispiece of this report) [ENA8057], but further excavation did not take place until 1965, when S C Stanford began 6 seasons of work ending in 1970 [ENA8058]. The main work involved the excavation of a substantial area on and around the site of the main gate. Excavations to the north-east of this revealed platforms cut into the natural slope overlooking the entrance, but previous excavations had disturbed much of the area opened up. Above this to the east, Stanford opened a series of other areas that revealed the location of four-post structures, and produced evidence for Early Bronze Age activity associated with the use of Beaker pottery.
The most detailed recording of the earthworks at the site that has so far been carried out was the English Heritage survey in the summer of 1999 and spring of 2000 (Field, 2000; Bowden, 2005) [ENA8059]. This recorded the ditch and rampart of the enclosing earthworks, the entrances and the interior of the fort (figure 4). As many as 483 hut platforms were recorded.
[2-3] The hillfort enclosure is irregular in plan, approximately 370m long by 240m wide with two inturned entrance gaps on the northern and south western sides and three further modern gaps in the ramparts. The hillfort is denoted by double ramparts with associated external quarry ditches. Excavation has shown that the inner rampart bank is constructed of rubble with stone revetments and a stone floored guard house is situated near the southern entrance with similar guard buildings and bridges located along the rampart. The banks and ditches of the hillfort have been levelled at the southern end to form the entrance to the annex. The annex enclosure is situated to the south east of the hillfort and is approximately 360m long and 110m wide. The enclosure is denoted by a bank with an external quarry ditch on the southern and western sides and by a series of quarries on the eastern boundary.
Cut into the hillside are a series of terraces that contain approximately 400 stone hut circles each about 6m in diameter. Excavations of a stone hut circle revealed stone flooring, refuse and storage pits and evidence of metal working. A pillow mound is situated to the east of the southern entrance of the fort and is defined by a sub rectangular mound up to 0.7m high, 50m long and 8m wide with a surrounding 4.3m wide quarry ditch. Several linear features are located within and around the site including a boundary dyke that extends through the site joining the Shire Ditch at the north east of the hillfort. Excavations within the hillfort have revealed Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age pottery and artefacts that show that the hillfort was established in the 5th century BC and was occupied for about 500 years.
Further archaeological remains including ridge and furrow survive within the vicinity of the monument, but are not currently protected because they have not been formally assessed. The Shire Ditch approaches the hillfort on its northern side and is protected separately as scheduled monument (List Entry No. 1003537).
Despite partial afforestation, excavation and the insertion of pathways, the hillfort known as Midsummer Hill Camp survives comparatively well with substantial earthworks and terracing. The hillfort is of considerable significance and is a good example of a prominent multivallate hillfort with evidence of long term settlement. The site will contain important archaeological and environmental information relating to the use, construction and occupation of the monument.
- SNA65927 - National Trust Report: Dorling, Peter. 2013. A Conservation Management Plan for Midsummer Hill, Eastnor, Herefordshire.
- SNA66471 - Scheduling record: Historic England. National Heritage List of England. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1003813.
- SNA66471 - Scheduling record: Historic England. National Heritage List of England. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1003533.
- SNA66564 - Article in monograph: Hughes, I. T. 1924. Report on the excavations conducted on Midsummer Hill Camp.
- SNA66865 - Article in serial: Hilton Price, F. G.. 1880. Camps on the Malvern Hills (Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club). 1877-1880.
- SZK134 - Document: S C Stanford. 1981. Midsummer Hill.
- SZK1965 - Document: S C Stanford. 1969. Midsummer Hill fifth interim report.
- SZK6293 - Document: Hilton Price. 1877-1880. Midsummer Hill Camp, Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Hill Camp.
- SZK7548 - Document: I T Hughes. 1924. Report on the Excavations at Midsummer Hill Camp Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club.
Other Statuses and References
- HER/SMR Reference (External): 00931
- ENA7528 - Heritage Assessment, A Conservation Management Plan for Midsummer Hill, Eastnor, Herefordshire
- ENA8054 - Field Survey, 19th-century survey of Midsummer Hill Camp by H.H Lines
- ENA8055 - Archaeological Intervention, 1880s excavation of 5 hut hollows and pillow mound on Midsummer Hill Camp by Hilton Price
- ENA8056 - Archaeological Intervention, 1924 excavations of Midsummer Hill Camp, Malvern Hills
- ENA8057 - Field Survey, RCHME 1932 survey of Midsummer Hill Camp
- ENA8058 - Archaeological Intervention, Excavations of Midsummer Hill Camp by S C Stanford (1965-1970)
- ENA8059 - Field Survey, Earthwork Survey of Midsummer Hill Camp