THE BCH ARCHIVE
LOCAL HISTORY FOR
And The Surrounding District
Midsummer Hill Fort
Midsummer Hill Camp occupies the summit of Midsummer Hill (937 ft.) and Hollybush Hill, 1¾ m. E. of the church. It covers an area of about 30 acres and is of irregular form, generally following the contours.
It is entirely surrounded by a double rampart with a medial ditch, and there is a slight spoil-ditch within the inner rampart. There are two main entrances: that on the N. is approached by a curved trackway, while the inner rampart on the E. is turned inwards slightly at the gap.
The second entrance (Plate 2) is in the re-entrant angle formed by a small valley; the outer rampart is gapped, but the inner rampart is turned inwards on both sides. There are now three other entrances, where the Red Earl's Dyke, the Shire Ditch and a bank to the S.W. meet the main enclosure.
Within the enclosure are still to be seen a number of rounded hollows, generally about 6 yards in diameter, which represent hut-sites; the S.E. slope of the summit of Midsummer Hill is said to have had a series of eleven terraces on which over 200 hut-sites could be traced as late as 1875; a few of these are still visible, as are traces of the terracing. Immediately against the enclosure to the W. of the N. entrance is a raised platform, proved by excavation to be the site of a large hut; there are traces of a second platform E. of the entrance.
On Hollybush Hill, E. of the S. entrance, is a large pillowmound, 50 yards by 9 yards, and about 2½ ft. high; it has a surrounding ditch. About 64 yards to the N. is a circular mound about 14 yards in diameter and 1½ ft. high with traces of a ditch; there are faint remains of two smaller mounds to the W. and N.W. and a series of small banks to the N. To the S.W. of the main enclosure and embracing the small valley above referred to, are lines of entrenchment—the Red Earl's Dyke to the S. and a slight rampart towards the W. The former will be dealt with separately, the latter has traces of a ditch on the inner or E. side and curves round to the E. at the S. end. It is uncertain if this or both banks formed an outer enclosure, but in 1875, 40 hut-sites could be traced within the area.
The small stream running down the valley has been dammed at three points to form reservoirs, once at the spring just within the inner enclosure to the W. of the S. entrance and twice within the outer area just described.Excavations were made at several points within the main enclosure in 1924, and a certain amount of pottery was found which was held to indicate an occupation extending from late La Tène I, or early La Tène II, to La Tène III. Three superimposed stone pavings were found at one point in the ditch which presumably indicated as many consecutive occupations: the original ditch was formed by cutting the outer scarp of the inner rampart at its base to a nearly vertical slope with a revetment of dry stone walling, including Llandovery stone
The Red Earl's Dyke and Shire Ditch form the existing county boundary to the S. and N. of Midsummer Hill Camp. The Red Earl's Dyke is supposed to have been thrown up by Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, about 1287. It has a ditch on the W. side which has been destroyed by quarrying and is next seen on Ragged Stone Hill, where its lines are not so definite. As has been said in describing Midsummer Hill Camp, the first stretch may have formed part of the outer enclosure of that earthwork, perhaps altered and strengthened in the 13th century. The Shire Ditch (Plate 2), to the N. of Midsummer Hill Camp, consists of a slight bank with a ditch on the E. side. It extends northward to the camp on the Herefordshire Beacon and can be traced thence to the Worcestershire Beacon.
Camp on Midsummer & Hollybush Hills.