St Catherine's Hill hillfort
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1016489
Date first listed: 30-Nov-1925
Date of most recent amendment: 07-Jul-1999
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Winchester (District Authority)
National Park: SOUTH DOWNS
National Grid Reference: SU 48403 27683
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.
The large univallate hillfort on St Catherines Hill survives well, and part excavation has indicated that it retains archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument, its later use, and the landscape in which it was constructed. The chapel and mizmaze represent unusual associations, the maze being a rare example of its type.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes a large univallate hillfort situated on a steep sided
chalk hill overlooking the Itchen Navigation Canal to the west, the city of
Winchester to the north west and Twyford Down to the south east. The hillfort
defences completely enclose the rounded hilltop, forming a north-south
aligned, oval shaped interior area of approximately 9ha. The defences are
relatively uniform, surviving around the perimeter as a large rampart up to
7.5m high flanked by an outer ditch up to 2m deep and a low, ill-defined
counterscarp bank. They follow the natural contour of the hilltop and climb
in elevation to the north east where the hill forms a low saddle to Twyford
Down. At this point there is access to the interior by way of an original
entrance formed by a causewayed gap through the splayed ends of the
counterscarp bank and the inturned ends of the ramparts. Up to six additional
gaps in the defences are the result of more recent tracks and paths.
Part excavations in 1927 and 1928 indicated that the hilltop had originally
formed an unfortified Iron Age settlement, dated at 550-450 BC, before the
defences were constructed at around 250-200 BC. The original wide entrance
through the ramparts was revetted with timber and included guard houses set in
bays in the ramparts on either side. It was then altered during the second
century BC, narrowing the entrance passage and strengthening the revetment
with chalk blocks, before the site was abandoned at or shortly after 50 BC.
The excavations recovered pits, ditches and artefacts covering the whole range
of occupation of the site. A magnetometer survey conducted by English Heritage
in 1997 indicates that further buried remains associated with the original use
of the monument, including traces of round house dwellings, compounds,
granaries and pits, can be expected to survive within the interior of the
The excavations also recovered buried remains relating to the later use of the
monument including Roman pottery and coins, dated to the first to third
centuries AD, and a medieval, Norman style chapel built at the summit of the
hill prior to the middle of the 12th century. The location of the chapel
remains are surrounded by a number of associated medieval earthworks,
including boundary ditches, rubbish pits, chalk extraction pits and a possible
cemetery. Post-medieval use of the hillfort is represented by a small mizmaze
situated inside the entrance which is thought to have been originally cut
between 1647 and 1710 and then recut to a different pattern between 1830 and
1840. A ditched enclosure to the north of the hillfort and a probable
woodland enclosure to the east of the hillfort, both of probable medieval
date, are also included in the scheduling.
The modern fences, brushwood hurdles, footpaths and steps which cross the
monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is
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: 31165
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Hawkes, C F C, Stevens, C G, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Saint Catharine's Hill Winchester, , Vol. 11, (1930)
Hawkes, C F C, Stevens, C G, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Saint Catharine's Hill Winchester, , Vol. 11, (1930), 191-258
Hawkes, C F C, Stevens, C G, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Saint Catharine's Hill Winchester, , Vol. 11, (1930), 231
Hawkes, C F C, Stevens, C G, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Saint Catharine's Hill Winchester, , Vol. 11, (1930), 230-31
Hawkes, C F C, Stevens, C G, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Saint Catharine's Hill Winchester, , Vol. 11, (1930), 232-3
Hawkes, C F C, Stevens, C G, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Saint Catharine's Hill Winchester, , Vol. 11, (1930), 227-30
Hawkes, C F C, Stevens, C G, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Saint Catharine's Hill Winchester, , Vol. 11, (1930), 269-80
Hawkes, C F C, Stevens, C G, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Saint Catharine's Hill Winchester, , Vol. 11, (1930), 229-30
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