Idbury Camp hillfort
- 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.
- West Oxfordshire (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SP 22874 19543
Reasons for Designation
Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and
surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions.
They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used
between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for
earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the
ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on
such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with
display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of
redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen.
The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of
slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may
survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and
between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or
two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned
ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the
passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by
outworks. 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. Large
univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded
nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the
chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is
marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further
examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north.
Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in
their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual
components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their
importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron
Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed
to be of national importance.
The hillfort known as Idbury Camp survives as a visible earthwork, despite the ramparts having been partly levelled into the ditches by cultivation. It is known from stray finds recovered after ploughing to contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction. Further buried remains sealed in the primary ditch fills will provide evidence of the environment in which it was built.
The monument includes a hillfort situated on the east side of Westcote Hill,
c.500m south west of the present village of Idbury. Its ramparts have been
reduced in height by cultivation but survive as low earthworks. The infilled
ditch is clearly visible on aerial photographs.
The defences include a roughly oval rampart aligned north east-south west
which encloses an area of about 3.5ha. It measures c.10m wide and stands up
to 0.4m high.
It was revetted with limestone dry walling and originally stood much higher.
Beyond the rampart lies a deep defensive quarry ditch from which material was
obtained to construct it. This has become infilled with levelled rampart
material but is clearly visible as a darker band of soil 15m wide. To the
south it can be seen as a hollow feature through which the road to the village
At least one entrance is known to have broken the circuit of defences. It lies
on the northern side.
Many finds of Iron Age and Romano-British pottery, metalwork and bone have
been made both inside and around the monument, usually after ploughing. Human
skeletons dated to either the Romano-British or the early Anglo-Saxon period
were also found in a disused stone quarry situated just outside the hillfort,
immediately south of the later road. The extent of this cemetery is, however,
The hillfort's Anglo-Saxon place name suggests that it still stood as an
obvious bury or fortified place in the immediate pre-Norman period.
Excluded from the scheduling is the boundary fence between the field in which
the monument lies and the road; also excluded is the road surface itself,
although the land beneath both of 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
Witts, G B, Archaeology handbook for Gloucestershire, (1883), 28
PRN 1448, C.A.O., IA FORT, (1978)
PRN 1449, C.A.O., Anglo-Saxon cemetery (remains of ?), (1978)
Several photographs of site, Ordnance Survey, Ordnance Survey, (1900)
Title: Ordnance Survey 6" Series Source Date: 1923 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
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