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


Ordnance survey map of Ashley Wood camp
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hampshire

District: Test Valley (District Authority)

Parish: Ashley

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 hillfort. 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

End of official listing