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Banjo enclosure, two barrows and associated field system in Blagden Copse

List Entry Summary

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.

Name: Banjo enclosure, two barrows and associated field system in Blagden Copse

List entry Number: 1009843


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hampshire

District: Test Valley

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Hurstbourne Tarrant

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 14-May-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 22-Dec-1995

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 21904

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

`Banjo' enclosures are so-called because of their shape, with earthworks leading out from the main enclosure to form the `neck' of the `banjo'. The main enclosure is usually of curvilinear plan and less than 0.4ha in extent. It is defined by a ditch and outer bank; an inner bank may also be present. Parallel earthworks, defining a trackway, lead from the single entrance. Away from the main enclosure, the earthworks often turn outwards to form antennae. Paddocks may be attached to the enclosure and in some cases the whole complex is enclosed within a surrounding compound. Most banjo enclosures are thought to have been settlement sites and were generally constructed in the Middle Iron Age, between 400 and 100 BC. They appear to have been occupied for long periods of time and some examples continued in use to the time of the Roman conquest. The distribution of banjo enclosures is concentrated in Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire, with a number of examples recorded in the surrounding counties and a few isolated examples elsewhere. They occur as isolated sites or in pairs, and occasionally as a group of three, generally on hilltops or valley slopes, and often in association with other archaeological remains, such as linear ditch systems. Only some 200 examples have been recorded, mostly as cropmark or soilmark sites; very few survive as earthworks. As a relatively rare monument class, all examples which survive with significant archaeological remains are considered to be worthy of protection. Blagden Copse is part of the remnant woodland of Chute Forest which once stretched from Collingbourne Wood, inside the Wiltshire border, to Harewood Forest in Hampshire. Though much of Blagden Copse has been planted by the Forestry Commission, the condition of the banjo enclosure complex suggests that little ground disturbance has occurred here since the Romano-British period. Very few banjo enclosures survive as earthwork sites, most having been levelled by ploughing. The survival of the Blagden Copse site, with two contemporary burial mounds and part of its associated field system, is remarkable. In addition, the monument is part of an important group of sites in this area, including an unusual ritual enclosure to the north east.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes an Iron Age `banjo' enclosure, two barrows, and an associated field system, surviving as earthworks situated in Blagden Copse on level ground above the valley of the River Swift. The enclosure is one of a number to the north of Devil's Ditch, including an unusual sub-square enclosure some 250m to the north east, and is in an area where a number of important Late Iron Age objects have been found. `Banjo' enclosures are so-called because of the general shape of this type of site, with earthworks leading out from the main part of the enclosure to form the neck of the `banjo'. At this site, the main part of the enclosure was defined by a ditch with internal and external banks. This can be seen most clearly on the north side. The banks on the east and west sides only remain in part and the inner bank is missing on the south side. The entrance is on the south east corner but there also appears to be a break in the ditch on the south west corner. The interior of the enclosure measures c.45m east- west and c.40m north-south. The banks stand to a height of c.0.7m and survive to a width of 5m. The ditch is c.1.5m wide and c.0.6m deep. The earthworks which form the `neck' of the banjo are crossed and partly obscured by a later trackway. They lead from the south east corner of the enclosure, running south east for a distance of some 20m, before separating and turning sharply to form antennae; together, the arms of the antennae, formed by a ditch with a bank on its south east side, create a north east-south west alignment covering a distance of some 220m. At its south west end, the ditch turns sharply to the south east and continues for c.50m with the bank now on the south west side. Limited excavations of the banjo enclosure have taken place on at least two separate occasions, in the 1920s and in 1961. In 1961, the ditch was shown to be V-shaped and contained animal bones and quantities of Iron Age pottery dating to between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC. At a distance of c.110m to the south east of the enclosure are two round barrows c.18m apart. The northern barrow is the largest and is c.10m in diameter and c.0.8m high. The second barrow, to the south of the first, is c.6m in diameter and c.0.2m high. The northern of the two barrows has been partially excavated and recorded as containing an Iron Age cremation burial, this giving the barrow a similar date to both the banjo enclosure and associated field system. The southern barrow appears to overlie part of the Iron Age field system and may therefore be of later date. Both barrows are thought to have been surrounded by ditches from which mound material was quarried. These are no longer visible at ground level, having been infilled over the years, but survive as buried features. The remains of a contemporary field system lie to the south east and south west of the enclosure, surviving as lynchets and incorporating the two barrows.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Dewar, H S L, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in The Field Archaeology of Doles, , Vol. 10 (2), (1929)
Stead, I M, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Excavations in Blagden Copse, Hurstbourne Tarrant, Hants., 1961, , Vol. XXIII p3, (1968)
RCHME, (1977)

National Grid Reference: SU 36291 52298


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End of official listing