Caesar's Camp hillfort and the remains of a Napoleonic redoubt
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Oct-2019 at 08:10:50.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Bracknell Forest (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SU 86376 65719
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.
Caesar's Camp is unusual in that it is a well preserved example of a carefully planned and constructed contour hillfort which also served as the focus for later reuse including both enhancements to the hillfort and separate earthworks such as the Napoleonic redoubt.
As a result of recent geophysical survey the level of survival of the buried remains is known to be good; these will provide archaeological and environmental evidence for the monument's construction, occupation and later reuse, and the landscape on which it was originally built.
The presence of the later redoubt within Caesar's Camp demonstrates the continued importance of the hillfort as a landscape feature, and preserves part of a unique series of practice redoubts on Easthamstead Plain.
The monument includes a large hillfort which follows the contours of the
northward projecting spur on which it stands. The site is known as Caesar's
Camp, an antiquarian name applied to the earthworks in the mistaken belief
that it was a Roman camp left by Julius Caesar after his campaign of 55-54 BC.
The earthworks are in fact the remains of a large hillfort which took advantage of the natural hill slopes and included banks and ditches to enhance the defensive capability of the site. The main circuit consists of a single massive rampart bank enclosing over 10ha. It stands up to 4m high in places and measures up to 15m wide. There is a further bank and ditch along the eastern side of the monument as well as in several others at different points around the perimeter. The defences at the southern end, where the fort faces the plateau from which its promontory projects, have been altered by modern earth levelling which has infilled a substantial ditch which formerly ran in front of the rampart and now survives as a buried feature.
Entrances would have been located at this southern end of the monument where the original causeway is believed to survive as a buried feature, and also on the north eastern side where an entrance can still be seen. The entrance from the north is probably not original but is likely to be a later cutting made to facilitate access across the site.
The site has been partly surveyed using non-destructive geophysical survey, and this has shown a number of pits, tracks and possible building structures below the present ground level. Although not excavated, the site has produced occasional finds including a coin of the early 1st century British leader Cunobelin.
Also present within the area of the hillfort is a sub-square redoubt roughly 40m across which appears to form part of the defence line created for military exercise purposes in 1792. There are also other earthworks associated with a number of periods of military activity within the hillfort which has been used as a camp and training area over the last 200 years.
All fences and information signs 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:
- Legacy System:
00376.00.000, S.M.R.O., CAESAR'S CAMP, (1991)
00378.08.000, S.M.R.O., Redoubt, (1991)
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