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SLWCH CAMP;SLWCH TUMP HILLFORT

Site Details



NPRN 92032

Map Reference SO02NE

Grid Reference SO05622840

Unitary (Local) Authority Powys

Old County Brecknockshire

Community Brecon

Type of Site DEFENDED ENCLOSURE, MULTIVALLATE HILLFORT

Broad Class DEFENCE

Period Early Medieval, Iron Age

Site Description Summary: Re-analysis of Slwch Tump hillfort in 2014, together with aerial discoveries in 2014, suggest Slwch Tump was a complex hillfort with and early phase, and potentially two annexes, with the strong liklihood of early medieval occupation.

1. 1986 Inventory Description: ‘A large, sub-oval, univallate enclosure incorporates the upper slopes of a prominent hill rising to 246m above O.D., 1.3 km E. Of the confluence of the rivers Usk and Honddu. The ground beyond the fort falls away steeply to the S and W but less markedly on the other sides. The highest part of the hill is towards the N.W. corner of the enclosure and the interior slopes upwards to this area from the rampart on the S. and E.

The main perimeter bank has been reduced for the most part to a single substantial scarp, the crest of which is now occupied in several places by lines of trees and bushes. Recent field banks and fences cross the earthwork and run around the circuit of the defences, set back from the crest of the scarp except on part of the W. Side where they coincide. There are derelict quarry hollows within the S.E. part of the interior and beyond the defences on the NW and NE. The rampart scarp immediately S of the entrance has been dug away. The interior has been ploughed.

Generally, the defences follow the natural contours of the hill and consist of a single bank and traces of a fronting ditch. Theophilus Jones mentions that the site had ‘a double foss, in some places nearly destroyed’ but there is no trace of a further bank or ditch. The site measures internally 187m N/S by 242m, enclosing 3.8ha. The greater part of the rampart survives as a single, outward-facing scarp of earth and stone between 3m and 4.6m high. A ten-metre length of the inner face of the bank, 0.6m high, is extant on the NE. On the N the site of the ditch is represented by a terrace up to 10m wide. On the E a 38m length of ditch, 0.9m deep, separates the foot of the rampart scarp from a small knoll and there is a vague hint of a low counterscarp bank at this point. There are no visible traces of the ditch on the S and W where it was probably unnecessary because of the steep fall of the ground. The entrance is on the NE where the rampart seems to have been inturned either side of a sloping approach. No ancient features are visible in the interior.
An estate map of 1780-81 records that the fort lay in a field named ‘Ginger Wall’.’

RCAHMW, 1986. An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Brecknock; The Prehistoric and Roman Monuments, Part ii: Hill-forts and Roman Remains. HMSO. 62-64

2. New appraisal of LiDAR data in 2014 has altered the character and likely extent of the hillfort on Slwch Tump.

Analysis of 2m LiDAR data flown by the Environment Agency suggests the 3.8ha hillfort as described by RCAHMW is only one component of a larger site. Readily apparent is a curving D-shaped annex, 260m E/W by 130m enclosing 3.09 ha, which adjoins the hillfort on the north side, and is fossilised within a system of medieval strip-fields which spring from the annex, suggesting it predates them. On the E side an area of quarrying sits at the west end of a distinct rectangular enclosure, 250m E/W by 90m enclosing 2.4ha, also fossilised in later hedge banks. This appears to be connected to the rampart of the hillfort at its west end. The siting of St Eluned’s Well and Chapel (NPRN 96679) on the north-east perimeter of the site suggests the potential of early medieval and/or medieval occupation on the site, perhaps explaining the additional enclosures beyond the limits of the hillfort.

3. Royal Commission aerial reconnaissance under drought conditions on 30th July 2014 (AP_2014_4104 & 4112) recorded parchmarks of a substantial plough-levelled defended enclosure offset within Slwch Tump, potentially an early phase enclosure. The new inner enclosure is pear-shaped, measuring 94m E/W by 82m enclosing 0.6 ha with a broad outer ditch and traces of a levelled rampart. It occupies the south-west angle of the hillfort. An inturned gateway passage is visible on the north-west side, matching a corresponding gap in the hillfort rampart, suggesting a second main gate was located at the NW angle of Slwch Tump. Other parchmarks on the hillslope beyond Slwch Tump to the east suggest further unrecorded phases of activity here. Taken together, Slwch Tump is a focus of prehistoric, and potential historic, settlement and activity of some importance and complexity.

T. Driver, RCAHMW, 16 December 2014

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