An unfinished hillfort, a saucer barrow, a disc barrow and sections of two linear earthworks on Ladle Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012038

Date first listed: 30-Nov-1925

Date of most recent amendment: 27-Sep-1995


Ordnance survey map of An unfinished hillfort, a saucer barrow, a disc barrow and sections of two linear earthworks on Ladle Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hampshire

District: Basingstoke and Deane (District Authority)

Parish: Burghclere

County: Hampshire

District: Basingstoke and Deane (District Authority)

Parish: Ecchinswell, Sydmonton and Bishops Green

County: Hampshire

District: Basingstoke and Deane (District Authority)

Parish: Litchfield and Woodcott

National Grid Reference: SU 47633 56628


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

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.

Saucer and disc barrows are both funerary monuments of the Early Bronze Age; most disc barrows date from the period 1400-1200 BC. Both types of barrow occur either in isolation or in round barrow cemeteries. Saucer barrows were constructed as a circular area of level ground defined by a bank and internal ditch and largely occupied by a single low, squat mound covering one or more burials, usually in a pit. The burials, either inhumations or cremations, are sometimes accompanied by pottery vessels, tools and personal ornaments. Disc barrows, the most fragile type of round barrow, were similarly constructed; they are circular or oval in plan, containing one or more central or eccentrically located small, low mounds, covering burials, again usually in pits. The burials, usually cremations, are frequently accompanied by pottery vessels, tools and personal ornaments. It has been suggested that disc barrows were normally used for the burial of women, although this remains unproven. However, it is likely that the individuals buried were of high status. Both saucer and disc barrows are rare nationally, the former being one of the rarest recognised forms of round barrow with about 60 examples nationally, the latter with about 250 examples; most of both types occur in Wessex. The presence of grave goods and, in disc barrows, their richness, provides important evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst prehistoric communities over a wide area of southern England, as well as providing an insight into their beliefs and social organisation. All examples are considered worthy of protection.

Much of the archaeological landscape of Ladle Hill and the surrounding area is preserved as earthworks or crop or soil marks, which together will provide a detailed understanding of the nature and development of agriculture and settlement on the north Hampshire downs. The unfinished Iron Age hillfort on Ladle Hill forms the outstanding visual focus of the area. In addition, the well preserved linear earthworks, one incorporated in the structure of the hillfort, and the disc and saucer barrows indicate a diversity of earlier activity. Together these represent a rare combination of monument classes of Bronze Age and later date constructed on the downs. Despite some disturbance to the barrows, all of these features will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to their construction and use. The unfinished hillfort will provide a rare insight into the setting out and construction of this type of site.


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


The monument includes an unfinished Early Iron Age hillfort, a disc barrow, a saucer barrow and sections of two linear earthworks of Bronze Age date situated on Ladle Hill. The longer of the two earthworks runs along the western edge of Great Litchfield Down and is incorporated in the ditch of the hillfort which occupies the summit of the hill; the second earthwork runs on a north to south alignment c.30m to its east. The saucer barrow lies within the hillfort and the disc barrow is outside it, c.30m to the north. Another upstanding section of the longer earthwork lies c.1.1km further to the south west and is the subject of a separate scheduling.

The hillfort, represented by an incomplete ditch and internal bank with an irregular inner circuit of soil dumps, has overall external dimensions of c.227m (east to west) by c.208m. The ditch consists of separate sections of varying size, of which the most complete, c.160m long and up to 1.6m deep, is at the western side of the hillfort; however, only c.50m of the accompanying bank has been constructed towards the southern end of the ditch. One of two probable entrances lies at the southern end of the long western ditch section, the other being at the eastern side of the hillfort. A slight ditch and bank can be traced across the unexcavated causeways between the ditch sections, except at the entrances, and are thought to have been used to mark out the extent of the hillfort. A low bank also runs along the outer edge of the north western and northern arc of the ditch from the point at which the earlier convergent linear earthwork disappears, and may be associated with this earlier feature rather than with the hillfort. The interior of the hillfort contains an irregular array of soil dumps set back from the line of the bank, and the earlier saucer barrow.

The saucer barrow is in the north eastern quadrant of the hillfort. The barrow, which is slight, has an overall diameter of c.9m, and neither the outer bank nor the undisturbed part of the central mound is more than 0.15m high; the mound has a 2m wide hollow in its centre, probably marking the site of antiquarian excavation.

The disc barrow lies north of the hillfort on the less steep, higher part of the slope above a section that falls sharply away. The barrow has an overall diameter of c.43m: the outer bank is 4m to 5m wide and 0.5m to 0.7m high; the ditch is c.4m wide and 0.8m to 1m deep, and the central platform holds a low mound c.12m in diameter and 0.5m high. A depression in the mound marks the probable site of antiquarian excavation.

The western linear earthwork runs north eastward for c.765m before being absorbed into the line of the hillfort ditch. For most of its course, the feature runs along the top of the scarp at the western edge of Great Litchfield Down, heading towards the summit of Ladle Hill where it converges with the western arc of the later and much larger hillfort ditch. A low bank, up to 0.15m high and c.3m wide, is visible to the west of the ditch on the more gentle slope west of the hillfort, but elsewhere the feature can be seen as a step up to 2m deep and between 2m to 3m wide at the edge of the arable fields on the top of the down. The earthwork has been levelled by ploughing to the south west.

The eastern linear earthwork extends for c.120m. Here also the bank lies to the west of the ditch, giving the feature an overall width of c.6m. The bank has a maximum height of 0.3m and the ditch is up to 0.25m deep. The earthwork peters out above the steep slope to the north and has been levelled by ploughing to the south.

All fencing and associated posts are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them 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: 25616

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Piggott, S, 'Antiquity' in Ladle Hill-an unfinished hillfort, (1931), 474-85
Piggott, S, 'Antiquity' in Ladle Hill-an unfinished hillfort, (1931), 474-85
Ordnance Survey, SU 45NE 24, (1956)

End of official listing