Ashley Wood camp
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1014815
Date first listed: 30-Nov-1925
Date of most recent amendment: 27-Aug-1996
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Test Valley (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SU 39400 30122
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.
Ashley Wood camp is a comparatively well preserved example of a large univallate hillfort. Despite the erosion of part of the defences their complete circuit can still be defined enclosing an area within which buried archaeological remains will survive. Limited excavation of these remains has confirmed a construction date for the hillfort in the Late Iron Age and has provided evidence of a period of substantial reuse during the Roman period. The hillfort is passed by a public right of way.
The monument includes a univallate hillfort lying on a south facing slope on
Ashley Down to the south of Ashley Wood. The hillfort defences enclose a
subrectangular area of c.4.5ha (10.7 acres) measuring internally over 300m
(east-west) by 150m. Where best preserved, on the north west and north sides
of their circuit, the defences include a substantial bank, up to 9m wide and
2m high, together with an external ditch up to 8m wide and 1m deep. The
profile of the defences varies considerably due to their position relative to
the hill slope and to the effects of cultivation. On the east and extreme
south sides of the hillfort, although the bank here is of comparable size to
that on the north and north west sides, no trace of an external ditch is
visible. On parts of both the west and south sides the defences have been
almost completely levelled by cultivation and are now visible only as slight
undulations in the field surface. There are well marked gaps on each side of
the defences although it is uncertain which of these may represent original
entrances. In the 1860s a `tank', said to have steps leading into it and most
probably a bath of Romano-British date, was found in the south west corner of
the hillfort. Excavations carried out by Mr F M Hicks in 1931 on the line of
the ditch on the north side showed it to be 9 feet (2.7m) deep and sharply V
profiled with a narrow base only 1 foot (0.3m) wide. Late Iron Age pottery
recovered from the ditch provides dating evidence for the construction of the
hillfort. Evidence for reoccupation of the site during the Roman period is
provided by finds of pottery and other objects both from the higher levels
of the ditch where excavated and spread widely over the interior of the
Traces of field systems are visible on aerial photographs lying on all sides
of the hillfort. Although they are likely to be of a similar date to the
hillfort they have been largely levelled by cultivation and are not included
within the scheduling.
All farm buildings and fences are excluded from the scheduling, 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: 26741
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Williams-Freeman, JP, Introduction to field archaeology as illustrated by Hampshire, (1915), 229-233
Williams Freeman, J P, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Ashley Roman Camp, , Vol. Vol 12, (1933), 109-110
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