Large multivallate hillfort on St George's Hill
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Elmbridge (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- TQ 08530 61801
Reasons for Designation
Large multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of between
5ha and 85ha in area, located on hills and defined by two or more lines of
concentric earthworks set at intervals of up to 15m. They date to the Iron
Age period, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC
and the mid-first century AD. They are generally regarded as centres of
permanent occupation, defended in response to increasing warfare, a reflection
of the power struggle between competing elites.
Earthworks usually consist of a rampart and ditch, although some only have
ramparts. Access to the interior is generally provided by two entrances
although examples with one and more than two have been noted. These may
comprise a single gap in the rampart, inturned or offset ramparts,
oblique approaches, guardrooms or outworks. Internal features generally
include evidence for intensive occupation, often in the form of oval or
circular houses. These display variations in size and are often clustered,
for example, along streets. Four- and six-post structures, interpreted as
raised granaries, also occur widely while a few sites appear to contain
evidence for temples. Other features associated with settlement include
platforms, paved areas, pits, gullies, fencelines, hearths and ovens.
Additional evidence, in the form of artefacts, suggests that industrial
activity such as bronze- and iron-working as well as pottery manufacture
occurred on many sites.
Large multivallate hillforts are rare with around 50 examples recorded
nationally. These occur mostly in two concentrations, in Wessex and the Welsh
Marches, although scattered examples occur elsewhere.
In view of the rarity of large multivallate hillforts and their importance in
understanding the nature of social organisation within the Iron Age period,
all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of
Despite some disturbance caused by the construction of houses, the large multivallate hillfort on St George's Hill survives comparatively well with extensive parts of the interior remaining largely undisturbed. The monument is of an unusual form and rare in the south east of England in having an additional defended area. Partial excavation has demonstrated that the monument contains archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to its construction, its inhabitants, their economy and the nature of the landscape in which they lived.
The monument includes a large multivallate hillfort of Iron Age date, situated
on the crest of a hill on the Bagshot gravels which overlooks the valleys of
the Thames, Wey and Mole rivers.
The earthwork ramparts, which enclose an area of the hilltop of c.5.5ha,
follow the 75m contour and generally take the form of an inner bank with an
external ditch and outer counterscarp bank. To the west, however, the ramparts
were constructed with three banks and two ditches across an area of the
hilltop which was more vulnerable to attack. To the north east an additional
D-shaped rampart encloses an area in which a stream formerly ran, protecting
the water source. This was also constructed as an additional defence for an
entrance way into the main enclosure.
The inner bank of the main rampart survives up to 10m wide and 2.2m high. The
surrounding ditch, which has become partially infilled over the years,
measures between 4m and 7m wide and is up to 4m below the crest of the inner
bank. In places the erosion of the rampart has caused the ditch to become
completely infilled. Here it survives as a buried feature, visible as a
terrace, between 2.5m and 3.5m below the level of the hilltop. Beyond the
ditch is the counterscarp bank which survives to 1m in height and 10m wide.
The additional defences to the west include a second, internal ditch, now
completely infilled and surviving as a buried feature c.3m wide, with an inner
bank, up to 0.3m high and 7m wide. The ditch of the main rampart has also
become infilled in this area and survives as a buried feature, with an
additional external earthwork bank beyond it, up to 2.2m high and 12m wide.
Two sections of this, to the north and south of Camp End Road, survive to 35m
and 32m long respectively.
The rampart surrounding the D-shaped earthwork has an inner bank up to 1.8m
high and between 5m and 8m wide. The outer ditch survives up to 7m wide and 2m
deep. The entrance way is a gap in the inner rampart with the terminals of the
bank increased in height and width. A short section of bank, 7m wide, 0.3m
high and 30m long, runs into the interior from the northern terminal at right
angles to the main rampart. Aligned with this, running out from the D-shaped
addition, is a length of bank 7.5m wide and 0.9m high with a ditch to the
north 6m wide and 0.3m deep; both are 45m long. These follow the line of an
Previously considered to be a Roman camp, an investigation in 1911 recognised
the site as an Iron Age defended enclosure, pre-dating Caesar's invasion. A
short time after this work, during the building of houses in the south west of
the monument, Early and Late Iron Age pottery was found, as well as iron slag,
a by-product of iron smelting. A small area of the defences was excavated in
1981 demonstrating that there had been two phases of construction: the first
relating to the original construction of the main enclosure, with the second
possibly occurring at the same time as the addition of the D-shaped rampart.
Excluded from the scheduling are all houses and modern structures, but the
ground beneath all 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
Gardner, E, The British Stronghold of St George's Hill, Weybridge, (1911)
Manning, , Bray, , The History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey, (1804), 581
Bird, D G, 'Surrey Archaeological Society Bulletin' in Note, , Vol. 100, (1973)
Lowther A W G, , 'Surrey Archaeological Collections' in Surrey Archaeological Collections, , Vol. 51, (1950), 144-7
Poulton, R, O'Connell, M, 'Surrey Archaeological Collection' in St George's Hill Fort: Excavations in 1981, , Vol. 83, (1982)
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