Hammer Wood hillfort


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015878

Date first listed: 04-Jul-1958

Date of most recent amendment: 03-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of Hammer Wood hillfort
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. 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.

County: West Sussex

District: Chichester (District Authority)

Parish: Stedham with Iping

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: SU 84603 24015


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

The small multivallate hillfort at Hammer Wood survives well and part excavation has indicated that it retains archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a small multivallate hillfort dating to the Iron Age (700 BC-AD 43), situated on a greensand spur which overlooks the River Rother c.1.2km to the south. The elaborate hillfort defences completely enclose the spur, forming a north west-south east aligned, roughly rectangular interior area of c.3.5sq.km. The most impressive defences are to the north east, where they were constructed across the gently sloping ground which forms the neck of the spur. They survive here as two large parallel banks up to 11m wide, flanked by outer ditches. Part excavation in 1957 indicated that the earthen and rubble banks are revetted with locally extracted ironstone slabs. Access to the interior is by way of a staggered entrance formed by simple, causewayed gaps through the central part of the ramparts. The remaining defences are on a smaller scale, with the steeply-sided north western and south eastern edges of the spur enclosed mainly by a single bank and ditch. To the south west, the spur-edge rampart is augmented by a parallel, outer bank and ditch constructed c.15m downslope. The ramparts have been disturbed in places by the subsequent construction and use of more recent tracks and paths.

Buried remains associated with the original use of the monument, including traces of round houses, compounds, granaries, pits, iron ore smelting hearths and outbuildings, can be expected to survive within the interior of the hillfort, although this area has been partly disturbed by modern tree planting. Later use of the monument is represented by at least six roughly circular platforms situated within the hillfort, shown by the archaeological investigations of 1957 to represent charcoal burning clamps dating to the post-medieval period.

Two modern timber huts situated within the hillfort interior are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 29269

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Boyden, J R, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Excavations at Hammer Wood, Iping, 1957, , Vol. 96, (1958), 149-163

End of official listing