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Meon Hill stands in the southwest corner of Warwickshire, close to the border with Gloucestershire, and forms the northern boundary of the Cotswolds. It is the most northerly of chain of small hills, one of which - Ebrington - is the highest point in all Warwickshire, at 853 ft (about 260m) above sea level. At an elevation of 194m on the flat top of a hill conspicuous for miles around, Meon Hill has great views across the County, especially west across the Vale of Evesham towards Bredon Hill and the Malverns, and north and west towards Stratford and Coventry.
This strategic viewpoint was doubtless one of the reasons why the hill was chosen as the site of an Iron Age hillfort, the remains of which are visible as earthworks (above and blow). As one of only two known examples of
large multivallate hillforts (hillforts with two or more ditches) in Warwickshire, Meon hillfort is an example of a rare class of monument in the county. View from the western ramparts of Meon Hill looking North
Excavating the Hillfort
Meon hillfort was described as a fortification of treble earthworks as far back as the 17th century. The history of archaeological finds at Meon Hill goes back at least to 1824 when a large hoard of 394 iron currency bars was found 1.2m below the surface on the hill possibly just behind the northern rampart. These currency bars were perhaps originally packed into a chest.They appear to be primarily spit-shaped bars (see photo below).The term ‘iron currency bar’ has long been in use to describe these elongated iron objects found in late iron age sites in Britain, and this find on Meon Hill are the earliest finds on record. Some of these are now to be found in Market Hall Museum in Warwick, Oxford, Gloucester, Stratford, Reading, Hereford and Cheltenham.
Iron 'currency bar' from Meon Hill
Excavations and site surveys - beginning in 1906 - recorded the layout of the ramparts and internal features as well as producing a variety of finds. Originally the hill was encircled by a double line of defences which in 1906 were best preserved on the SW and SE. On the E the rampart had been levelled by ploughing and a gap in the W was probably the result of a landslip. These excavations were published in by Hodges in the Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society Vol. 32, (1906), 101-15 as 'Meon Hill And Its Treasures'.
Plan of Meon Hillfort showing landslip (?) gap on the west and flattened/ploughed rampart to the east
In 1906 the interior was divided up into a northern ploughed field and a southern unploughed field. Excavation by the archaeologist T. R. Hodges uncovered six or so slightly saucer-shaped depressions 4.3m to 6m in diameter on the summit of the hill in undisturbed grassland. One of these was excavated and proved to be a hut. The area of these huts is shown in the photo below, though nothing of the depressions now remains to be seen.
Area of huts on the top of Meon Hill
Further excavations were undertaken in 1922 which uncovered Romano-British and earlier pottery, and one or two pieces of bronze and flint. Many artefacts were found in the ploughed interior including Neolithic/Bronze Age finds and fragments of probably Iron Age pottery with three possibly Iron Age whetstones.
View to the west towards Mickleton from the western ramparts
There were two possible entrances on the E and NW, though the latter could be modern. Field walking of the interior produced a sparse scatter of Iron Age pottery, animal bone, fired clay/daub, fire-cracked pebbles and possible sling stones.
In 1957 an Anglo-Saxon inhumation was found within the hillfort. The finds associated with this burial include a shield boss, spearhead and a ferrule (a metal band or ring).