Malwood Castle hillfort


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016493

Date first listed: 22-Jan-1969

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Malwood Castle hillfort
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1016493 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 16-Jan-2019 at 07:55:41.


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

County: Hampshire

District: New Forest (District Authority)

Parish: Minstead

National Park: NEW FOREST

National Grid Reference: SU 27699 12127


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 Malwood Castle survives comparatively well, despite some disturbance by its later use as the site of a modern country house. Part excavation has shown that it retains important archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the original construction of the monument and its later use. The use of the ridge as the route of a Roman road and the later reported siting of an Armada beacon within the hillfort illustrates the continued importance of Malwood Castle for Roman and post-medieval communication networks.


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


The monument includes a small multivallate hillfort of Iron Age date prominently situated at the north eastern end of the Stoney Cross ridge, a flat-topped ridge of plateau gravel which runs north east-south west alongside the A31 dual carriageway. The hillfort defences enclose a roughly square area of 1.5ha of relatively level ground. They are most impressive to the south west, where they were constructed across the neck of the ridge. They survive here as two large parallel banks, up to 12m wide and 2m high, separated by a shallow ditch and flanked by a second, outer ditch up to 9m wide and 1m deep. A possible original entrance on this side has now been widened and severely damaged by the construction of a modern road into the hillfort. The remaining defences are on a smaller scale. Natural springs rise to the north west and south east where the steeply sloping and boggy sides of the ridge are enclosed by a single bank standing up to 3.5m above a shallow outer ditch which has now become almost completey infilled to form a narrow berm and outer scarp. Part excavation during sewage works in 1972 indicated that the rampart on the north west side had been revetted with timber posts along the front. To the north east and east, the ridge-end defences are augmented by a low, parallel outer bank which has been partly levelled by the construction of a modern road. In addition to the western entrance, the ramparts have been breached by modern roads and paths in three further places, and have been disturbed by later garden landscaping on the south side and by the construction of a modern septic tank on the north west side. 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 disturbed by the later use of the monument as the site of a 16th century Spanish Armada beacon, recorded in John Norden's Map of Hampshire of 1595, and of a modern country house, Minstead Court, constructed in 1884 and Listed Grade II. Some original ornamental landscaping features associated with the house survive around the ramparts to the south and south east, including partial brick revetting of the rampart, a brick-framed vista to the south east and a garden path through the rampart at the southern corner. Traces of further ornamental landscaping extend beyond the ramparts to the south, outside the area of protection. Later use of the monument is also indicated by a section of Roman road which extends for approximately 110m in a north east-south west direction past the north west corner of the hillfort. It survives as a slightly raised agger of compacted gravel, 5m wide, flanked by shallow ditches, which extends from the A31 dual carriageway into a flat based hollow way as it climbs onto the top of the ridge. The road cannot be traced further along the ridge to the south east but aligns with a section of raised agger situated 150m north of the A31 and with part of a Roman road from Otterbourne to the New Forest (Stoney Cross) shown on 1969 Ordnance Survey antiquity maps. The areas occupied by Minstead Court and the concrete sewage tank and steps set into the north western rampart are totally excluded from the scheduling. The block of garages and paved area situated to the south west of Minstead Court, the modern fence which caps the rampart, all fences, gates, cattle stops, and all modern features associated with the house and its gardens 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: 32541

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Margary, I D, Roman Roads in Britain, (1955), 94-5
Sumner, H, The Ancient Earthworks of the New Forest, (1887), 26-9
'Hampshire Field Club New Forest Section Report' in Hampshire Field Club New Forest Section Report, , Vol. 13, (1973), 9-10
White, H T, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in The Beacon System in Hampshire, , Vol. 10, (1930), 252-278
Title: Map of Hampshire Source Date: 1595 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing