Slight univallate hillfort at Seven Ways Plain, Burnham Beeches.


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Slight univallate hillfort at Seven Ways Plain, Burnham Beeches.
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Bucks (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SU 94719 84668

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.

Despite modification caused by quarrying and wartime use, the greater part of the Seven Ways Plain hillfort remains substantially intact. Over 75% of the perimeter defences remain visible, and the ditch contains deep deposits of silt in which artefacts and other evidence related to the period of occupation will be preserved. Environmental evidence from the ditch fills and beneath the banks will illustrate the appearance of the landscape during the lifetime of the site, perhaps indicating the contemporary use or clearance of the ancient woodland which is known to have existed in the area since the last Ice Age. The interior of the monument will retain buried features reflecting the function of the monument and containing further datable material. The topographical location of the site, on a broad plateau, enables comparisons with other monuments in the region which are highly significant for the study of Late Bronze Age and Iron Age settlement patterns and social structure. The proximity of a larger, low-lying hillfort at Gerrards Cross (some 5.5km to the north east) is particularly significant in this respect. The monument is accessible to the public, and provides the visitor with a graphic demonstration of the nature of early defended settlements.


Seven Ways Plain is situated in the southern part of Burnham Beeches, between Victoria Drive and Lord Mayors Drive, deriving its name from the junction of several tracks in a former woodland clearing. The hillfort stands in the centre of this area: a broad, level spur with slight gradients descending to the south and east, a narrow valley or coombe to the west, and higher ground rising to the north separated by a shallow, natural hollow. A wide ditch encircles the fort, which is roughly oval in plan measuring approximately 140m north to south by 100m east to west. The ditch is well-defined around the western side of the enclosure, averaging 10m in width and 0.7m in depth, and containing deep deposits of accumulated humus and silts. Piecemeal quarrying for gravel or brick earth has modified the north eastern part of the defences and disrupted part of the interior, although the ditch survives well along the southern half of the eastern side. The ditch becomes wider (12m-15m) and shallower around the southern side of the hillfort, terminating at a narrow causeway at the south western corner. This causeway (now crossed by a modern footpath) has been interpreted as an original entrance. A low bank, or rampart, c.5m wide and 0.4m high, survives along the inner edge of the ditch for approximately 40m to the west of the causeway, and for about 10m to the east. Similar remains of a bank survive along the northern section of the defences where the ditch is cut into the north facing slope of the shallow vale. The outer edge of the ditch provides a counterscarp to the slope, and is surmounted by slight traces of an external bank.

The interior, particularly the south eastern third of the site, contains numerous undulations, largely resulting from the construction and removal of War Department huts erected in the 1940s when the whole of the Beeches was fenced off for use by the army. A deep hollow way runs parallel to the eastern side of the hillfort, some 10m from the ditch, leading into the quarried area. Mature beeches growing along its length indicate that this route was abandoned several centuries ago, presumably when quarrying ceased on the site. The quarry at the northern end of the hollow way truncates a low boundary bank, orientated north east to south west, short sections of which are also visible crossing the eastern ditch and the interior of the fort. This feature, evidently earlier than the hollow way and later than the enclosure, is believed to form part of a 16th century woodland boundary leading northward towards the village of Egypt.

All fences and fenceposts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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
The Official Guide to Burnham Beeches, (1993)
conversation with Head Keeper, Frater, M, Seven Ways Plain: Tree Ages, (1995)
RCHME, Inventory of the Historic Monuments in Buckinghamshire, (1912)
Schedule entry: map and text, Countryside Commission, Burham Beeches Site of Special Scientific Interest, (1984)
Survey report held by SMR, Miller, D and Miller, D, The Camp, Seven Ways Plain, Burham, (1975)
Survey report held by SMR, Miller, D and Miller, D, The Camp, Seven Ways Plain, Burham, (1975)


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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