The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust
Historic Environment Record
 

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Piercefield Camp

Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 00772g
Trust : Glamorgan Gwent
Community : St Arvans
NGR : ST53639596
Site Type (preferred type first) : Iron Age Hillfort
Legal Protection : scheduled ancient monument

Summary :
The easterly of two camps, the earthwork is situated on a promontory on the West bank of the river Wye. It utilises the steep natural slopes on the North West, North East and South East for its defences, and three banks with medial ditches constructed on the South West. The site is heavily wooded.

Description :
The easterly of two camps, the earthwork is situated on a promontory on the West bank of the river Wye. It utilises the steep natural slopes on the North West, North East and South East for its defences, and three banks with medial ditches constructed on the South West. The site is heavily wooded.

One of two defended enclosures on the left bank of the River Wye at the top of the precipitous slope above the river. The Field Monument Warden Report describes it thus: PRN 772g (SAM Mm 20b) is the more easterly of the two camps. It is much larger than 773g and occupies a long stretch of ground at the top of the scarp above the river. The ground slopes away steeply on the northwest, northeast and southeast sides. On the northwest side it is defended by the natural scarp alone. The main defences are on the southwest side, where the ground slopes away less steeply. The banks are composed of large stones, now somewhat spread and tumbled, but still massive and clearly defined. Running from the scarp on the northwest in a south-easterly direction is a large bank 1-1.5m high on the inside and 5-6m high on the outside. This ends in a wider promontory. east of this are two hollows, c1m deep, in the bank, which is wider and more spread here. The bank then continues around the end and along the southeast side, the same height. Enclosing the southwest end of the camp is a low stone bank which runs northwards from the bank and the southeast side. This peters out before it reaches the northwest side. The stone bank continues along the southeast side and round the northeast side to the scarp. Below it is a berm which narrows and stops at the southwest end by the hollow. At this end it becomes a shallow ditch with slight external bank (earth). Below this, along the southern end of the southeast side is a near-vertical drop to a large ditch c1.5m deep on the outside. This cliff continues around the northern end, but without the ditch.
Outside the bank on the southwest side the shallow ditch (c1m deep on the outside) continues round the end, becoming narrower and peters out before the scarp. Outside it is a further bank (earth), with a very slight internal height and an external height of 2.5m. Outside it is a ditch c2m wide and 1.5m deep on the outside. These continue almost to the edge of the scarp but stop, leaving a narrow neck.
There are no visible features in the interior, which slopes gently northwest-southeast and southwest-northeast. The accompanying plan shows an internal bank, which was not visible on the ground in a visit for GGAT 1.
This report fails to mention the entrance, which is situated in the south corner, and has an entrance passage formed by the return of the bank to the east and west. A causeway leads through the ditch, followed by a recent but now largely disused path (shown on the OS 25" map), which appears as a slight hollow way inside the camp. The outer bank also breaks at this point, leaving a relatively small mound to the east, but the general configuration looks as though the outer bank should have formed a barbican protecting the entrance in the inner bank, and that the outer bank may have been dug away at this point subsequently (?during landscaping Piercefield Park) to allow for the path. The defences are very impressive round the south-western end, but on the long (southeast) side, they have been reduced to a low band of tumbled stone c5-6m wide.
The site lies a little distance away from the Wye Valley Path, and is currently very little visited. The Wye Valley AONB is considering providing some interpretation material, and if this is done, it could have the effect of increasing visitor erosion, potentially leading to the destabilisation of the stones of the rampart. (Wiggins 2006)

Sources :
Wiggins, H , 2006 , Prehistoric defended enclosures in Gwent ( © GGAT)
01/PM List/Cadw/1996/Revised SAM List

Events :
E001502 : Field visit to Piercefield camp (year : 2006)
E001550 : Prehistoric defended enclosures Gwent (year : 2006)

Related PRNs : 772G


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