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Great House Camp
Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 00942g Trust : Glamorgan Gwent Community : Llangwm Unitary authority : Monmouthshire NGR : SO4322403341 Site Type (preferred type first) : Iron Age Hillfort Status : Scheduled Monument
Summary : This is a medium-sized multivallate hillfort of triple ditch and bank construction of 5.42 acres. It is situated at the north east end of a ridge overlooking the Olway Valley. Before being surrounded in trees, the position of the fort would have commanded good views in all directions. A high proportion of the southeast and southwest sections of the enclosure are under farm buildings. The geophysical survey showed that there is considerable archaeological activity within the western sector of the surveyed enclosure. The interpretation was that the enclosure had been inhabited over a long period of time. 37 feature including many roundhouses were identified by a resistivity survey. Resistivity records are pictured as figures 1 (page24), Fig.2 (pages 26 and 48), Fig.3 (pages 30 and 53), Fig.4 (pages 32 and 57), Fig.5 (pages 34 and 59) and Fig. 6 (pages 35 and 60) in HER Digital Report Archive No 2364. An Event record exists in E005226 (Belcher M, 2005)
Description : This is a medium-sized multivallate hillfort of triple ditch and bank construction of 5.42 acres. It is situated at the north east end of a ridge overlooking the Olway Valley. Before being shrouded in trees, the position of the fort would have commanded good views in all directions. The banks and ditches are largely obscured by trees, including large oaks and beech, as well as smaller varieties such as holly, blackthorn and scrub. The steeply falling north-west sector of the earthworks if for the most part impenetrable due to the slope of the land and density of vegetation. The southern sector is largely occupied by farm buildings, orchards and gardens. Photographs (grid references mark position from where photo was taken) 1 NE banks SO43350336; 2 NE ditch, SO43330337; 3 Vehicle tracks entering N of hillfort,SO43280344; 4 same vehicle tracks through inner bank, SO43260343; 5 interior, taken from same position as no4, view SE; 6 and 7 animal shelter or hudle against earth bank impinging on the fort inner bank; note trample in foreground of no.7 SO43250343;8 and 9 interior of fort, view to NW and NE respectively, taken from spoil heap in S fort, SO43230334; 10-13 S sector of fort showing farm vehicles and attachments, earth-moving and tracks (see also no 9); 14 interior, view N; 15 and 16 steep banks on W side of fort; 17 view across banks on W side over Olway Valley. A section through a typical part of the defences shows that from the outer banks moving inwards, the approximate heights of banks and ditches etc are as follows. For the outer bank: outer height is 1.0m, inner height 1.5m with ditch measured from crest to crest at 16.0m. For the middle outer bank: outer height is 2.0m, inner height 0.9m with ditch measured from crest to crest at 14.0m. For the middle inner bank: outer height is 1.3m, inner height 1.10m with ditch measured from crest to crest at 13.0m. For the inner bank: outer height is between 1.8m and 2.0m, inner height between 0.2m and 0.4m. A possible revetment wall can be seen in places inside the inner bank and the measurement from the crest of the inner bank to the crest of the revetment is about 6.0m. The construction seems to be of earth and stone where this could be ascertained. A wide feature has been cut straight through the east ramparts. This measures approximately 19.0m in width and stretches from the modern road beyond the outer defences, straight through to, but not breaching the innermost bank. The section covering the outermost banks is deeper that than that further inwards and is at present under water, creating a pond. The most likely explanation for this area, at present, is that of quarrying, presumably for the various buildings which exist and have existed at this site. An entrance to the north can be seen although it is believed this is a later feature. It is considered that the original entrance was where the current tarmac entrance exists. A geophysical survey (resistivity survey) shows a possible metalled surface coming into the enclosure from the north entrance, and an inner revetment continuing where the earthworks of a revetment bank have petered out. There is much activity shown in the interior of this camp which can be interpreted in many different ways, but shows for certain that this enclosure has been inhabited over a long period of time. There are also signs from the geophysics that there may well have been stock control within this enclosure at some point in time. (Wiggins 2006)
The geophysics results on the sites revealed, that the majority of the activity in the enclosure was in the western end. The overlapping of round houses suggests several occupational phases, however, without excavation dating is impossible. 37 features were identified and detailed in E005226 (Belcher 2005).
The geophysical (resistivity) survey area excluded much of the southeast and southwest sectors of the enclosure which are under existing farm buildings and driveway. Large semi-circular features such as A (32m (N-S longest) by 17m (E-W widest) approximately, the semi-circle appears to utilise the bank that makes the northeast boundary of the northern 'gate' as its 'straight' western edge joins the two farthest points of the semi-circle. The curved side extends towards the eastern quadrant of the Quarry Ditch (this is outside the enclosure on the western site of the site); B, which overlaps A, approximately 12m in diameter; C, a roundhouse type structure with a diameter of 13m which was similar in size to features E,F,G and H which could imply contemporaneity; feature D had a diameter of 16m could be considered the largest roundhouse structure, and was sited in the western sector of the survey area.It is approximately distance from the other features as follows: C 20m, E 17m, F overlapping, G 15m and H 5m. Feature E is circular, and is a probable roundhouse with a footprint diameter of 11m and is situated in the western sector of the survey area. Feature F is another proposed roundhouse with a footprint diameter of 10m. It is located in the southern sector of the enclosure and was thought to abut features D and H. Feature G is a roundhouse type structure and has a diameter of 9m. It is sited in the extreme boundary of the western sector of the enclosure. Feature His only partly visible, located on the extreme western edge of the resistivity survey in the area of the inner scarp of the Quarry Ditch. The estimated footprint radius of this feature was 11m and it abuts feature M. Feature I was unlike any other feature and consisted of two apparent arcs that ran through approximately 90 degrees, aligned northwest to northnortheast for 10m, with a gap of 5m between these arcs. Feature J ran for approximately 40m on a N-S axis, and was 3m wide at its widest point. Feature K near the proposed north entrance of the enclosure, and feature M near the northwest sector of the survey area, were both anomalies of high resistivity. Feature K was aligned east to west and it was in a U-shape with maximum width of 7-8m and it ran for 20m lying between the two 'shoulder' scarps that appeared to define the north entrance. Feature M had approximate dimensions of 25m in length and 7 to 8 m in width similar to those of feature K. Feature L was a high resistivity anomaly with north-south alignment and ran for 50m into the enclosure with an average width of 5m. Feature N was situated approximately 7m from feature T, and it bordered the eastern boundary of the central trackway that runs between the proposed northern and southern gates through the enclosure and it had a footprint of 20m by 11m. Although the proximity to feature T implied an interaction between the two the alignment criteria used with other features on the site did not readily suggest a relationship between them. On the northeast corner of the structure the resistivity data showed a line that ran due west at an angle of 45 degrees to the main axis of the building which ran largely N-S. It was suggested that this feature (N1) could be associated with feature O. Feature O was situated centrally within the survey area and ran eastwest to an approximate length of 75m.It appeared to respect the northern elevation of feature Q, and looked to be in line so that it may have terminated in the north wall of feature S. It had an overall length of approximately 75m. Feature P was rectilinear in form and of dimensions 18m by 7m. It stood in the western end of the survey area. Feature Q (western sector) and feature R (southern sector) were also rectilinear and measured 23m by 10m and 12m by 5m respectively. Feature Q showed a similar footprint to feature N. The results of feature R implied that it may have been a three-sided structure. Features S and S1 were a rectilinear L-shape in the western end of the survey sector, straddling the Quarry Ditch. Feature T had the least conclusive resistivity results and was approximately 36m by 16m and rectilinear in form. This feature may result from an offset error in the resistivity results. Feature U was rectilinear and located in the southern end of the survey area and had a basic footprint of 27m by 19m. Feature U1 was rectilinear in shape and had its southern wall contiguous with the northern wall of feature U and was 17m by 5m. Feature V had high resistivity and was 13m by 9m and rectilinear with alignment NNW to SSE. Feature W appeared as two conjoined squares of dimensions 8m by 8m and 8m by 9m. Features X1 to X11 covered an area of 90m SE to NW and 70m NE to SW and were generally uniform and regular in their layout. Feature Y ran N to S in the western part of the survey area with approximate length 50m and width 1-2m. Resistivity records are pictured as figures 1 (page 24), Fig.2 (pages 26 and 48), Fig.3 (pages 30 and 53), Fig.4 (pages 32 and 57), Fig.5 (pages 34 and 59) and Fig. 6 (pages 35 and 60) in HER Digital Report Archive No 2364 (SiteScan Archaeological; Belcher M, 2005).