Large univallate hillfort at Felday


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.

Guildford (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 10844 44754

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.

The large univallate hillfort at Felday survives comparatively well with only slight disturbance to the interior caused by tree growth. Partial excavation has demonstrated that the site contains archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the surrounding landscape. The site is one of several hillforts surviving in the local area and is unusual in having visible surviving remains of a World War I prisoner of war camp.


The monument includes a large univallate hillfort of Iron Age date, situated on a north east facing spur of sandstone with views to the North Downs and across the Weald to the South Downs. The enclosure is defined to the west by a bank and external ditch which is C- shaped in plan and cuts off an area of the hilltop of approximately 7ha. On the north, west and south the defences comprise an inner bank 12m wide and up to 1m high, a ditch 5m wide and 0.7m deep and, in the south, traces of an outer counterscarp bank up to 8m wide and 0.3m high. To the east the natural slope is steep, but there is evidence of additional scarping. This survives as a slight terrace, in places visible up to 7m wide, which slopes from 1.7m to 2.2m below the top edge of the natural incline. Situated in the south western part of the enclosure are the remains of a World War I prisoner of war camp. It was a civilian internment camp, where the prisoners were employed for cutting timber, and covers an area of c.1ha. It includes post holes and beam slots now covered by vegetation although the concrete foundations of a kitchen block, with floor and drains, are still visible in the north eastern corner of the camp. The monument was first surveyed in 1984 and small trenches excavated across the bank and ditch in the south and north west during 1985 and 1986. These demonstrated a V-shaped rock-cut ditch with a rampart consisting of dumped rubble. A small number of worked flint artefacts were found, representing earlier occupation of the site, as well as sherds of Iron Age pottery from the first half of the first century A.D. These were recovered from the middle silts of the ditch, suggesting that the enclosure had at this point already fallen out of use. Excluded from the scheduling are the metalled surface of the fire break and the drainage ditch along its eastern edge, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Field, D, 'Surrey Archaeological Collections' in Felday, Holmbury St Mary: An Earthwork Enclosure of the 1st C AD, (1989)
Field, D, 'Surrey Archaeological Collections' in Felday, Holmbury St Mary: An Earthwork Enclosure of the 1st C AD, (1989), 99-116


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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