Large univallate hillfort and 14th century chapel at St Ann's Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016204

Date first listed: 20-Dec-1934

Date of most recent amendment: 17-Mar-1997


Ordnance survey map of Large univallate hillfort and 14th century chapel at St Ann's Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Surrey

District: Runnymede (District Authority)

National Grid Reference: TQ 02670 67620


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

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.

Despite some disturbance caused by gravel extraction to the south of the site and the construction of a reservoir in the centre, the large univallate hillfort at St Ann's Hill survives comparatively well. Part excavation of the site has demonstrated it to be rich in archaeological remains as well as being relatively unusual in the intensity of settlement evidence which survives.

In the 14th century the Chapel of St Ann, from which the hill takes its name, was constructed on the site. This is believed to have been associated with the nearby abbey at Chertsey and so has an important place in understanding the ecclesiastical history of the area.


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


The monument includes those parts of a large univallate hillfort of Iron Age date not removed by post-medieval quarrying, and a later 14th century chapel, situated on the crest of a hill in an area of sands and gravels with extensive views of the surrounding landscape. Roughly oval and aligned on a north west to south east axis, the hillfort has an enclosed area of approximately 5ha defined for the most part by a single line of defences comprising a main bank and external ditch with an outer counterscarp bank. The rampart is best preserved on the west side where the inner bank survives to a height of 1m and is 14m wide. The ditch has become partly infilled over the years but is visible as an earthwork feature 7m wide and up to 0.7m deep. The counterscarp bank beyond this survives up to 0.5m high and 10m wide. To the north the steep slope has been scarped to form an additional defence while to the east there is a second ditch and counterscarp bank beyond the main defences. The outer ditch is visible here as a terrace in the hill slope c.7m wide.

Situated within the north eastern part of the hillfort is the 14th century Chapel of St Ann from which the hill takes its name. This survives mainly as low earthworks and buried foundations although one wall remains standing to a height of 1.3m. The chapel may once have been associated with nearby Chertsey Abbey.

The hillfort was partly excavated in 1990 when trenches were dug to investigate the ramparts on the north west of the enclosure and an area in the south east of the interior. The ramparts showed two phases of construction: the original material dug from the ditch formed a dumped internal bank, with a later recut of the ditch used to heighten the bank. Excavations of the interior showed evidence of the intensive settlement with remains of houses surviving in the form of postholes, pits, beam slots and ditches. Sherds of Early and Middle Iron Age pottery provide further evidence for occupation. Excluded from the scheduling are the reservoir, Reservoir Cottage and its garage, the two shelters, concrete steps, viewing platform and all fences and fence posts but the ground beneath all these features, except the reservoir, is included in the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 20197

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The book of Chertsey through fourteen centuries, (1929)
Ogilvy, J S, A Pilgrimage in Surrey, (1914)
RCHM(E), , St Ann's Hill Chertsey
Jones P, Interim report on archaeological work at St Ann's Hill Chertsey, 1990,
Lansdowne M, (1992)

End of official listing