Chisbury Camp and St Martin's Chapel


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


Ordnance survey map of Chisbury Camp and St Martin's Chapel
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Little Bedwyn
National Grid Reference:
SU 27892 65991

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 national importance.

Chisbury Camp is a well preserved example of its class. Evidence from within the interior of the fort suggests that traces of occupation dating to the Late Iron Age and Roman periods are both extensive and well-preserved. Lying within the hillfort is a medieval chapel. This survives well as a rare example of a relatively intact 13th century chapel which retains original fabric and features. Its presence provides evidence for the use of the fort during the historic period.


The monument includes Chisbury Camp, the remains of an Iron Age hillfort situated on a low hill immediately south of the village of Chisbury, together with the remains of the medieval Chapel of St Martin which lies on the east side of the fort on the line of its defences. The Iron Age hillfort is multivallate, possessing two, and in some places three circuits of defences which in places are over 50m in overall width. These together enclose an irregular oval area of approximately 5.6ha. The external dimensions of the hillfort are approximately 450m north west-south east by 325m north east-south west. The hillfort is bisected by a modern road utilising gaps in the north west and south east sides of the defences which may represent the original entrances. The defences are broken by several other gaps through which access has been provided to the buildings which currently lie within the fort; the majority of these gaps are on the east side of the modern road, including the widest which contains St Martin's Chapel. Although no formal excavations have been carried out within the hillfort, observation of 20th century disturbances has produced evidence of urns, bronze swords and of storage pits containing Late Iron Age and Romano- British pottery. Recent finds from immediately outside the fort include coins and other objects of Roman date. The late 13th century chapel is a rectangular building of flint with stone quoins, 17.7m long, 7.9m wide and 10.6m to the apex of the thatched roof. Six windows which retain their stone dressings survive in addition to one medieval doorway. The building, which has an 18th century roof, was formerly used as a barn and comprises a chancel and nave, formerly divided by a screen. It appears to have been out of use for at least two centuries. The chapel has been interpreted as either the chapel of ease to the parish church of Great Bedwyn or a free chapel of the Hampshire abbey of St Denys. Excluded from the scheduling are all buildings including Chisbury Manor which is Listed Grade II (with the exception of St Martin's Chapel), roads, areas of hard standing, fence posts, telegraph and electricity poles, reservoir, swimming pool and sculptures, although the ground beneath these features is included. St Martins Chapel is in the care of the Secretary of State.

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.

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Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire, (1957), 83, 267
Colt Hoare, R, Ancient Wiltshire: Volume II, (1819), 13-14
Colt Hoare, R, Ancient Wiltshire: Volume II, (1819), 14
Passmore, A D, Diary of Wiltshire 1903-1942
'Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine' in Wiltshire archaeological register for 1981, , Vol. Vol 77, (1982), 158,160
'Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine' in Excavation and Fieldwork in Wiltshire 1987, , Vol. Vol 82, (1988), 176
'Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine' in Wiltshire Archaeological Register for 1981, , Vol. Vol 77, (1983), 158
Ponting, C E, 'Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine' in The Chapel of St Martin, Chisbury, , Vol. Vol 28, (1896), 125
Ponting, C E, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in The Chapel of St Martin, Chisbury, , Vol. 28, (1894), 125-128


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

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