Ilbury Camp hillfort


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


Ordnance survey map of Ilbury Camp hillfort
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 12-Nov-2019 at 16:27:00.


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

Cherwell (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 43777 30549

Reasons for Designation

Promontory forts are a type of hillfort in which conspicuous naturally defended sites are adapted as enclosures by the construction of one or more earth or stone ramparts placed across the neck of a spur in order to divide it from the surrounding land. Coastal situations, using headlands defined by steep natural cliffs, are common while inland similar topographic settings defined by natural cliffs are also used. The ramparts and accompanying ditches formed the main artificial defence, but timber palisades may have been erected along the cliff edges. Access to the interior was generally provided by an entrance through the ramparts. The interior of the fort was used intensively for settlement and related activities, and evidence for timber- and stone- walled round houses can be expected, together with the remains of buildings used for storage and enclosures for animals. Promontory forts are generally Iron Age in date, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are broadly contemporary with other types of hillfort. They are regarded as settlements of high status, probably occupied on a permanent basis, and recent interpretations suggest that their construction and choice of location had as much to do with display as defence. Promontory forts are rare nationally with less than 100 recorded examples. In view of their rarity and their importance in the understanding of the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are considered nationally important.

Despite an area of ramparts having been reduced by cultivation, Ilbury Camp survives as a good example of its class. Aerial photographs confirm that its infilled ditch will retain buried remains and surface finds have demonstrated that the monument will contain archaeological evidence relating to the lives of its occupants. Ilbury Camp is unusual in this part of Oxfordshire where the builders of most univallate hillforts did not make effective use of the terrain in the siting of their defences.


The monument includes a univallate hillfort known as Ilbury Camp. It is situated on a prominent ridge aligned roughly north west-south east and located c.1km ENE of Nether Worton. The site commands clear views of the surrounding terrain in all directions.

The defences include a single rampart and outer ditch which enclose a kidney-shaped area, with its narrow end to the north west. This is due to the builders of the fort having taken advantage of the natural defences provided by the contours which helped create a steep sided and well defended site. The area enclosed by the defences measures 310m from north west-south east and up to 160m from south west-north east. The western half of the earthworks survive as upstanding earthworks while the eastern half have been reduced in height by cultivation over the years.

The rampart is constructed of stone and turf and stands up to 4m high above the present ground level to the north west and 3m above the interior. It measures c.10m across and was originally continuous except for a c.8m wide gap at the entrance at the south east corner. Two modern gaps on the southern and western sides are not thought to be original.

The surrounding ditch served the dual function of enhancing the defences and providing material for the construction of the rampart. It has become largely infilled due to cultivation and deposition of soil from the banks over time. However, aerial photographs show that it survives around the circuit of the hillfort with one break of c.8m at the original entrance, and that it measures c.12m wide. It is still visible as a slight depression at a number of points around the monument, especially to the north west.

Finds of pottery from the ploughsoil on the eastern half of the monument include both Iron Age and early Romano-British material.

Excluded from the scheduling are the boundary fences which divide it into a number of fields, 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:


PRN 2320 note 2, C.A.O., HILL FORT, (1994)
PRN 2320, C.A.O., HILL FORT, (1994)
SP 43 SW 11, R.C.H.M.(E), Hillfort, (1970)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: SP 43 SW


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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