Loughton camp slight univallate hillfort


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


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. 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 - 1013518.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 23-Jan-2021 at 05:36:43.


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

Epping Forest (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 41873 97520

Reasons for Designation

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes, generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth - fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few examples. 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. Slight univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally. Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

The earthwork ramparts and below ground features of Loughton camp slight univallate hillfort survive well. Partial excavation has confirmed the date and extent of surviving archaeological deposits and the survival of evidence relating to the construction and use of the monument. The silts around the internal spring have been shown to preserve environmental evidence which can greatly add to our understanding of the landscape in which the monument was constructed as well as preserving organic artefactual information which will be of value in understanding the lifestyle of its inhabitants.


The monument includes Loughton camp, a slight univallate hillfort situated on a south west facing slope just below the crest of the ridge of sands and gravels which runs north east to south west through Epping Forest. Ambresbury Banks, a slight univallate hillfort very similar to Loughton camp in size and construction, lies c.3kms to the NNE and is scheduled separately.

The hillfort comprises a single bank and ditch earthwork rampart with slight traces of an outer counterscarp bank. A spring lies within the enclosure which issues from the south west having caused a large gap in the defences. A marshy area in this vicinity may originally have been a dammed pool. Several gaps now exist in the defences but it is not known which is the original entrance, although that in the north east rampart appears the most likely candidate. Also within the interior are areas of later quarrying.

The bank survives up to a height of c.1m above the interior of the enclosure and is between 8m and 18m wide. The visible traces of the surrounding, partially infilled ditch are up to 8m wide and 1.4m deep. Where no longer visible at ground level the ditch survives as a buried feature. Traces of a counterscarp bank are visible in the northern corner of the site although it is believed to have originally encompassed the whole site.

The site was first noted in 1872 by a Mr Cowper after whom the site was known as Cowper's Camp for some years. Partial excavations were undertaken in 1882 by a committee from Essex Field Club which included General Pitt-Rivers and Worthington Smith, in 1926-27 by Hazzeldine Warren, and again in 1954, 1959 and 1971. These investigations revealed evidence of Mesolithic occupation at the site as well as later prehistoric activity associated with the hillfort. The more recent excavations in the 1950s and 1970s have concentrated on earlier Mesolithic remains and large quantities of flint tools relating to Mesolithic occupation of the area have been recovered in the vicinity of the hillfort.

Excluded from the scheduling are all signs and posts although 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Hazzledine Warren, S, 'Essex Naturalist' in Report on Excavations at Loughton Camp, in Epping Forest, , Vol. XXII, (1930), 117-136
Pitt-Rivers, Gen et al, 'Transactions of the Essex Field Club' in Report on Loughton or Cowper's Camp, , Vol. III, (1884), 212-230
ECC, Essex Sites and Monuments Record 131, 132, (1984)


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].