Caesar's Camp, Wimbledon Common
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Greater London Authority
- Merton (London Borough)
- National Grid Reference:
- TQ 22397 71088
A large univallate hillfort known as Caesar’s Camp, 524m east of Warren Farm.
Reasons for Designation
Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen. The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by outworks. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Large univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north. Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.
Despite alterations and landscaping that have diminished the profile of the earthworks, the large univallate hillfort known as Caesar’s Camp on Wimbledon Common survives well. It has only been partially excavated and holds potential for further archaeological investigation using modern techniques. It will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the hillfort and the landscape in which it was constructed.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 11 September 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes a large univallate hillfort surviving as earthworks and archaeological remains. It is situated on a blunt spur of land overlooking Beverley Brook to the west, within the grounds of a golf course on Wimbledon Common.
The hillfort is roughly circular in plan except on the NNW side where it is flattened to follow the edge of the spur. The ground slopes steeply towards Farm Ravine on this side and would have provided some degree of natural defence. The hillfort is approximately 300m in diameter with an entrance on the west side about 20m wide. The earthworks are denoted by a single bank and ditch but have been diminished by landscaping. The ditch has become part infilled in places where it survives as a buried feature. There are traces of a counterscarp bank on the southern half of the hillfort, which is originally thought to have continued on all sides except to the NNW. The entrance on the western side is denoted by weakening of the bank and interruption of the ditch, which is shown as a cropmark or parch-mark in dry weather. On the north side of the entrance the outline of a rectangular building, possibly a 19th century gamekeepers dwelling, has also been identified as a cropmark. It is about 5.5m wide by 6m long and shows evidence of an entrance to the west and a possible hearth in the centre. The large univallate hillfort is known as ‘Caesar’s Camp’ but was also variously referred to by antiquarians as ‘Bensbury’, ‘Warren Bulwarks’ and ‘The Rounds’. The ramparts were apparently slighted in 1875 by an owner who intended building on the site. Partial excavation was carried out in 1937, during the digging of a water mains trench. This showed the ditch, which survived partly as a buried feature, to be 9m wide and about 3.5m deep. The excavations indicated that timber posts had been used in the construction of the rampart, probably as a revetment to both inner and outer faces. The hillfort was dated to the Iron Age, having been built in about the 3rd century BC. Pottery recovered from the site has since provided possible evidence for occupation into the Late Iron Age. An urn containing a Roman coin hoard, possibly dating to the 1st century AD, has also been found. In 1997 an archaeological watching brief on the site recorded a small pit, a probable posthole and a possible prehistoric metalled surface on the western approach to the hillfort.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- LO 89
- Legacy System:
- RSM - OCN
Books and journals
Malden, H, Parishes: Wimbledon, A History of the County of Surrey Vol 4, (1912)
NMR TQ27SW6. PastScape 401301.,
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing