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:
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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 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
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 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