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Monument details

HER Number:TQ 64 SW 1
Type of record:Monument
Name:Castle Hill Iron Age Hillforts, Castle Hill, Capel


Two Iron Age contour hill-forts and associated earthworks. Mesolithic and Bronze Age flint implements and Neolithic pot sherds have been found at the site; now thought to be in Tunbridge Wells Museum. The hillforts were first excavated in 1929 when they were thought to represent a single structure. Since then a watching brief has taken place in 1965 and excavations in 1969-71. It is now believed that two hillforts are located on the spur of high ground. The first, larger hillfort has been radiocarbon dated to c.315 B.C. and the second smaller fort to c.228 B.C. Whilst flints and iron slag have been found at the site it is uncertain whether it was permanently occupied. The forts consisted of ramparts and ditches, with inner and outer banks. An iron stone roadway was also found leading to the east entrance of Fort I.

Grid Reference:TQ 6078 4384
Map Sheet:TQ64SW

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Early Mesolithic to Late Bronze Age - 10000 BC to 701 BC?)
  • EARTHWORK (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • APPROACH ROAD (Middle Iron Age to Late Iron Age - 315 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • HILLFORT (Middle Iron Age to Late Iron Age - 315 BC? to 42 AD?)

Associated Finds

  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • POTTERY ASSEMBLAGE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • VESSEL (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Bronze Age - 2350 BC? to 701 BC?)
  • VESSEL (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1005191: Castle Hill earthworks, Tonbridge; Selected Heritage Inventory for Natural England: Castle Hill Camp. Earthworks of an Iron Age hill fort

Full description

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[Centred at TQ 60754390] Castle Hill (NAT) Camp (NAT) (1) Castle Hill Camp, a multi-vallate hill-fort, with an area of c.17 acres, inside the outer bank. It was excavated by S.E. Winbolt, in 1929, when flint artefacts and iron slag were found. An entrance on the east was paved and had stone-revetted sides. No evidence of permanent occupation was found the finds are in Tonbridge Public Library. (See illus 1) (2-3) The Castle Hill earthworks are situated on a spur of high round, running from NE to SW, c. 400 feet above sea-level. The natural slopes are nowhere very steep. On the SW of the spur is a kidney- shaped enclosure, with the characteristics of an IA contour fort, formed by a rampart and outer ditch. The NE side is under plough but has slight indications of a causewayed entrance. To the NE, the promontory has been cut off by a deep ditch with an outer bank and traces of an inner bank, obscured in places by a modern hedge-bank. The southern part of this earthwork has been badly mutilated and its original form is difficult to determine. An additional outer bank here may be merely part of an old approach road. The northern end of the earthwork ends abruptly for no obvious reason. A centrally placed entrance is represented by a gap in the outer bank and a probable causeway across the ditch. The true nature of this earthwork is uncertain; it does cut off the promontory but its defensive value is negated by the weak flanking slopes. There is no evidence that it was ever directly connected to the contour fort - the linking bank to the NW, identified by Winbolt, is a field boundary of no great age. It may be an unfinished work, possibly a later strengthening of the contour fort. At Tunbridge Wells Museum are flint artefacts from Castle Hill, identified as Mesolithic and BA; some are exhibited. A 1:2500 survey has been made. (see illus 2) (4) No change; the 1:2500 survey by Authy. 4 is correct. (5) [See Archives folder PF/37, No. 2300. (Copy of this plan appears in Arch Cant 91 1975, see illus 3)] (6) TQ 608439, Castle Hill, a full excavation report of work carried out into the two separate forts on Castle Hill. Excavations were carried out in 1969, 1970 and 1971 and a watching brief in May-June 1965 during pylon construction (7). An interim report appeared in 1971 (10). That there were two Hill Forts was first recorded by E. Geary (4), Wimbolt (2) being misled into believing it was a single fort by the destruction of the defences in the arable field. Apart from recognising an ironstone roadway in the east entrance of Fort I the Wimbolt report is of little or no value and the finds from his excavation are now lost. Worked flints and waste material, mainly Mesolithic, and three Neolithic sherds were found but there were no concentrations to suggest occupation in these periods. Fort I, Radiocarbon dated to c.315 BC, enclosed an area of 2-9 acres. The north-eastern defences are intact and the entrance was positioned centrally on the east side. South of the entrance the earthwork has been badly mutilated. The OS map (see Illus 2) includes some features which look modern and they have been omitted from the Field Survey (Illus 3). The south-eastern defences have been demolished but there are definite signs on air photographs (a and b). Two trenches have been dug: site K - through to northern defences and site L - at the east entrance. What was left of the inner rampart was 12 ft wide and had a maximum height of 33 ins. Originally it was 15 ft or perhaps 18ft wide. Between the inner and outer ramparts was a steep-sided V-shaped ditch, 27 ft wide and 12 ft deep. Fort II, carbon dated to c.228BC, enclosed an area of 2.5 acres. Two-thirds of the earthwork still survives, consisting of a single bank and a ditch except in the north-west corner where there is a counter-scarp bank. The north-east defences have been demolished but it is still visible as a slight ground swelling. Excavations have taken place, sites D and F, into the north-west defences. The inner rampart was 19ft wide at the base and had survived to a maximum height of 4ft. Site E, of an excavation into the entrance suggested by Geary but work proved that no entrance existed here. It is suggested that an entrances may exist to the south-east, marked ?entrance on illus, as there are slight indications on the round. Site J was an attempt to find evidence of a causeway under the modern track. None was found.

A large hill top camp of an ovoid shape defended by a double intrenchment. Entrance is on E side and is uncurved. This camp has a curious feature on SW side: a loop is formed with a single vallum and fosse and a slight outside bank, this is probably of later date. This camp was dug by Mr.Winboit in 1929 and results were practically negative except for a few flints. As on AM7 except that southern side of ramparts have been obliterated, I should imagine some time ago, by cultivation. The ramparts are impressive. The inner bank at NE section is 6m wide, 3.5m high going down to 6m in the ditch. (22)



Ordnance Survey: Portfolios (Collection). SKE6541.

Ordnance Survey: Portfolios (Collection). SKE6541.

<1> OS 6" 1961 (OS Card Reference). SKE48369.

<2> Arch Cant 41 1929 193-195 plan (S E Winbolt) (OS Card Reference). SKE35098.

<3> OS Iron Age S Britain Map 1962 (OS Card Reference). SKE48419.

<4> F1 EG 21-MAY-59 (OS Card Reference). SKE42868.

<5> F2 ASP 29-JAN-63 (OS Card Reference). SKE43187.

<6> Arch Cant 91 1975 61-85 figs photos (J H Money) (OS Card Reference). SKE36062.

<7> AP Aerofilms P6-0924 (OS Card Reference). SKE34156.

<8> HSL/?/Kent/07/2 (OS Card Reference). SKE44184.

<9> Letter J H Money 30 1 72 (in Corres file) (OS Card Reference). SKE46109.

<10> Kent Arch Rev 31 Spr 1975 48-51 photos (OS Card Reference). SKE45761.

<11> Arch Cant 86 1971 233-4 (OS Card Reference). SKE35860.

<12> DOE (IAM) AMs Eng 2 1978 109 (OS Card Reference). SKE40685.

<13> OS 1:10000 1974 (OS Card Reference). SKE48159.

<14> Arch Cant 84 1969 233-4 (A P Detsicas) (OS Card Reference). SKE35782.

<15> Arch Cant 87 1972 219 (J H Money) (OS Card Reference). SKE35889.

<16> CBA Cal of Excavs 1969 4 (OS Card Reference). SKE38763.

<17> Suss Arch Soc Newl 2 Mar 1971 4 (OS Card Reference). SKE49764.

<18> CBA Res Rep 48 1982 Arch in Kent to AD 1500 40-50 Fig (Peter E Leach) (OS Card Reference). SKE38900.

<19> Field report for monument TQ 64 SW 1 - May, 1959 (Bibliographic reference). SKE3264.

<20> Field report for monument TQ 64 SW 1 - January, 1963 (Bibliographic reference). SKE3265.

<21> R2 FH 16-MAY-79 (OS Card Reference). SKE48942.

<22> English Heritage, Register of Scheduled Monuments (Scheduling record). SKE16191.

<23> Kent Archaeological Society, 1979, Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 94, p 268-270 (Article in serial). SKE53755.

<24> Historic England, Historic England Archive: Castle Hill, Tonbridge (Archive). SKE53756.

Sources and further reading

Cross-ref. Source description
---Photograph: CONTOUR FORT, CASTLE HILL, CAPEL. OS59/F310/2. Black and White. Negative.
---Collection: Ordnance Survey: Portfolios.
<1>OS Card Reference: OS 6" 1961.
<2>OS Card Reference: Arch Cant 41 1929 193-195 plan (S E Winbolt).
<3>OS Card Reference: OS Iron Age S Britain Map 1962.
<4>OS Card Reference: F1 EG 21-MAY-59.
<5>OS Card Reference: F2 ASP 29-JAN-63.
<6>OS Card Reference: Arch Cant 91 1975 61-85 figs photos (J H Money).
<7>OS Card Reference: AP Aerofilms P6-0924.
<8>OS Card Reference: HSL/?/Kent/07/2.
<9>OS Card Reference: Letter J H Money 30 1 72 (in Corres file).
<10>OS Card Reference: Kent Arch Rev 31 Spr 1975 48-51 photos.
<11>OS Card Reference: Arch Cant 86 1971 233-4.
<12>OS Card Reference: DOE (IAM) AMs Eng 2 1978 109.
<13>OS Card Reference: OS 1:10000 1974.
<14>OS Card Reference: Arch Cant 84 1969 233-4 (A P Detsicas).
<15>OS Card Reference: Arch Cant 87 1972 219 (J H Money).
<16>OS Card Reference: CBA Cal of Excavs 1969 4.
<17>OS Card Reference: Suss Arch Soc Newl 2 Mar 1971 4.
<18>OS Card Reference: CBA Res Rep 48 1982 Arch in Kent to AD 1500 40-50 Fig (Peter E Leach).
<19>Bibliographic reference: Field report for monument TQ 64 SW 1 - May, 1959.
<20>Bibliographic reference: Field report for monument TQ 64 SW 1 - January, 1963.
<21>OS Card Reference: R2 FH 16-MAY-79.
<22>Scheduling record: English Heritage. Register of Scheduled Monuments.
<23>Article in serial: Kent Archaeological Society. 1979. Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 94, p 268-270. 94, pp 268-270.
<24>Archive: Historic England. Historic England Archive: Castle Hill, Tonbridge.