Scheduled Monument: Hillfort on Grabbist Hill, 275m south west of St Leonard's Well
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
11 August 2003
Date last amended
The monument includes a univallate hillfort considered to be of Iron Age date located on Grabbist Hill on the north eastern edge of Exmoor. The hillfort is ovate in plan and aligned from north west to south east following the contour of the steep narrow ridge which forms the eastern end of Grabbist Hill. It is strategically positioned to take advantage of the natural defences offered by the precipitous contours of the ridge and is in a commanding position overlooking the Avill Valley to the south and west, Gallox Hill to the south, and the Minehead coast to the north and east.
The hillfort is believed to be unfinished and is defined on the north side by a single earthwork bank which ranges from between 1.3m to 1.9m in height at the western end and gradually diminishing to 0.5m in height towards the eastern end. It has been suggested that this low bank represents a marker line laid out for the unfinished defences. The western end of the hillfort, where the defences are strongest, is formed by a ditch which has a counterscarp bank. The base of the ditch is between 2.2m and 3m deep below the top of the bank and the defensive earthworks have an overall width of 10m. The south side of the hillfort is defined by the steep scarp of the hill which provides a natural defence and which is particularly precipitous above the base of a hollowed area, formed by a geological land slip, known as the `Giants Chair'. No artificial earthworks are visible in this sector. A gap in the earthworks at the western end of the hillfort is believed to be an original entrance, (a common form of hillfort entrance) and it would originally have had a corresponding causeway. The profile of the earthworks at the western end has been partially obscured by the addition of a later field boundary which extends around much of the inner edge of hillfort and which has also disturbed an inner rampart which may represent part of the original defensive circuit. This field boundary may be associated with an area of medieval or post-medieval cultivation represented by traces of narrow ridge and furrow located within the interior of the hillfort on the eastern and south eastern side. A 30m length of bank aligned from north to south and about 5m wide is visible in the centre of the hillfort and probably forms part of this later cultivation activity.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: the wooden bench located adjacent to the footpath on the east side of the hillfort, together with the small area of hard-standing on which it is set; and the small wood post and rail fenced enclosure on the north east side of the hillfort together with all other fencing; the ground beneath these features is, however, included.
Book Reference - Title: National Monument Record - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: SS 94 SE 2
Book Reference - Author: Riley, H., Wilson-North, R. - Title: The Field Archaeology of Exmoor - Date: 2001 - Page References: 58-60 - Type: DESC TEXT
Article Reference - Author: Dennison, E - Title: Somerset Archaeology 1986 - Date: 1986 - Journal Title: Proceedings Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society - Volume: 130 - Page References: 145-6 - Type: DESC TEXT