Holmbury Camp: a small multivallate hillfort north of Three Mile Road


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Holmbury Camp: a small multivallate hillfort north of Three Mile Road
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1013183 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 16-Sep-2019 at 01:35:19.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Guildford (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 10465 42970

Reasons for Designation

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Despite disturbance caused by quarrying in the north west section of the hillfort, Holmbury Camp survives comparatively well with the ramparts and interior largely undisturbed. Partial excavation has demonstrated the extent of the archaeological remains and environmental evidence surviving within the site relating to the hillfort, its inhabitants, their economy and the landscape in which they lived.


The monument includes a small multivallate hillfort of Iron Age date, situated on the southern tip of a long Greensand spur commanding extensive views over the Weald.

The hillfort is sub-rectangular in shape and aligned north-south with earthwork defences enclosing an area of approximately 3.6 ha sloping down to the east. A natural terrace runs north-south through the middle of the enclosure.

The defences to the north and west comprise a double bank and ditch, while to the south and east there is an internal bank with a ditch and counterscarp bank above the natural steep slope. The entrance is located in the north west and survives as a simple gap in the defences. The inner bank of the eastern defence is 15m wide and measures 0.5m high from the interior and 1m from the exterior. Between the bank and surrounding ditch is a terrace 5m wide. The ditch lies 3.5m below the terrace and, having become partially infilled over the years, survives 4.5m wide and 0.3m deep. The outer counterscarp bank is 3m wide and 0.4m high above the scarped natural slope. To the north and west the inner bank is up to 1.2m high and 10m wide, the middle ditch is 10m wide and 1.8m deep, the second bank is 10m wide and 0.4m high and the outer ditch 1.5m deep and 8m wide. Traces of an outer third bank are visible to the south west.

The hillfort was first excavated in 1930. It was noted that on the west side of the hillfort the banks and ditches had been placed in such a way as to utilise natural undulations. Numerous finds were made including flint tools representing earlier occupation of the site, sling-stones, quern fragments and Iron Age pottery. More recent excavations in 1974 showed that construction was undertaken in one phase and that the breadth of the ramparts was probably related to sling warfare. A number of temporary hearths were discovered within the interior, possibly associated with the construction of the hillfort.

The site was abandoned sometime within the first or second century BC when the general collapse or demolition of the stone revetment of the main rampart occurred. As at the nearby Iron Age hill fort of Hascombe, deliberately broken quern stones were discovered, possibly suggesting forced abandonment.

Excluded from the scheduling are the footpath marker posts and the circular stone viewing platform 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
Winbolt, S E, Holmbury Camp
Thompson, F H, 'The Journal of Antiquities' in Three Surrey Hillforts, , Vol. 59 pt2, (1979), 245-318


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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].