St Catherine's Hill camp and round barrows


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.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (Unitary Authority)
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SZ 13657 95834, SZ 13711 96168, SZ 14194 95438, SZ 14331 95920, SZ 14396 95272, SZ 14437 95755, SZ 14513 95657, SZ 14530 95422, SZ 14613 95253


Round barrow cemetery, Roman camp, linear boundary and medieval chapel at St Catherine’s Hill, Christchurch.

Reasons for Designation

Roman camps are rectangular or sub-rectangular enclosures which were constructed and used by Roman soldiers when out on campaign or as practice camps; most campaign camps were only temporary overnight bases and few were used for longer periods. They were bounded by a single earthen rampart and outer ditch and in plan are always straight-sided with rounded corners. Normally they have between one and four entrances, although as many as eleven have been recorded. Such entrances were usually centrally placed in the sides of the camp and were often protected by additional defensive outworks. Roman camps are found throughout much of England, although most known examples lie in the midlands and north. Around 140 examples have been identified and, as one of the various types of defensive enclosure built by the Roman Army, particularly in hostile upland and frontier areas, they provide an important insight into Roman military strategy and organisation. A medieval chapel is a building, usually rectangular, containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate for Christian worship in the pre-Reformation period. Around 4000 parochial chapels were built between the 12th and 17th centuries as subsidiary places of worship built for the convenience of parishioners who lived at a distance from the main parish church. Chantry chapels were built and maintained by endowment and were established for the singing of masses for the soul of the founder. Some chapels possessed burial grounds. Unlike parish churches, the majority of which remain in ecclesiastical use, chapels were often abandoned as their communities and supporting finances declined or disappeared. Many chantry chapels disappeared after the dissolution of their supporting communities in the 1540s. The sites of abandoned chapels are particularly important since they often were left largely undisturbed and thus retain important information about the nature and date of their use up to their abandonment. Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period. Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or multiple ditches and banks which may extend over distances varying from less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs or as a combination of both. The evidence of excavation and study of associated monuments demonstrate that their construction spans the millennium from the Middle Bronze Age, although they may have been reused later. The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries in the landscape; their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance for the analysis of settlement and land use in the Bronze Age. The multi period landscape features of St Catherine’s Hill camp and round barrows bear witness to the continuing territorial, spiritual and strategic importance of the hill through time. Despite some partial excavation and quarrying the round barrow cemetery, Roman camp, linear boundary and medieval chapel at St Catherine’s Hill, Christchurch survive well and will contain archaeological and environmental relating to their construction, longevity, possible re-use, territorial and strategic significance, ritual, spiritual and funerary practices, adaptive re-use and overall landscape context.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 February 2016. This 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.

This monument, which falls into nine separate areas, includes a Roman camp, medieval chapel, linear boundary and eight bowl barrows situated on the prominent ridge of St Catherine’s Hill between the valleys of the Rivers Avon and Stour. The Roman camp survives as a square enclosure defined by double banks and triple ditches which excavations in 1921 showed to be of Roman origin and re-used during the medieval period as an enclosure for St Catherine’s chapel A series of excavations revealed a number of chapels had occupied the site from the 11th to 16th centuries (documents attested to the link with Christchurch Priory in 1331) although any traces of the chapel are now only buried remains pottery, painted glass, worked stone and glazed tiles were amongst the medieval finds recovered. Attached to the camp ‘enclosure’ is another small bank linking it to a double ditched linear boundary of up to 10.5m wide and 1m high and of unknown date. This is in turn also connected to a bowl barrow at its western end. The eight bowl barrows across the hill survive as circular mounds with largely buried surrounding quarry ditches from which the construction material was derived. The mounds vary in size from 11m up to 23m in diameter and from 0.6m up to 3m high and where ditches are visible these are up to 2m wide and 0.2m deep. Some of the barrows have been subject to gravel quarrying, one has had a brick built structure constructed on top of it and one was excavated in 1921 and produced a cremation in an urn and some flint flakes and subsequently a second urn and small pot were eroded out of it in 1974. One large mound originally included as a barrow may have been misidentified although it does contain a hollow used for storing ammunition.

Other archaeological remains survive in the vicinity, some are scheduled separately but others are not included because they have not been formally assessed.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
DO 822
Legacy System:


PastScape 458428, 458434, 458439, 458444, 458477, 458449, 458454, 458472, 1009355 and 1009357


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

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