Segsbury Camp or Letcombe Castle hillfort


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017717

Date first listed: 09-May-1935

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Sep-1997


Ordnance survey map of Segsbury Camp or Letcombe Castle hillfort
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. 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: Oxfordshire

District: Vale of White Horse (District Authority)

Parish: Letcombe Regis

National Grid Reference: SU 38497 84478


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.

Segsbury Camp survives well as an extant monument. Extensive geophysical survey and limited excavation have demonstrated the survival of archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, occupation and the landscape in which it was built, while leaving the majority of deposits intact. The monument is one of an important chain of hillforts associated with the ancient Ridgeway track which would have been used to control movement along this route in the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age periods. Evidence for the re-occupation of the hillfort during the period following the end of Roman rule will provide valuable information about the political and military importance of the Ridgeway and its defensive prehistoric monuments during the early medieval period.


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


The monument includes an Iron Age univallate hillfort known as Segsbury Camp, or alternatively as Letcombe Castle. It lies on a chalk plateau which runs east-west, roughly 20m north of the Ridgeway track, and has a commanding view of the plains stretching below it to the north. The monument includes a univallate rampart bank standing 3m above the interior beyond which lies an external ditch approximately 20m wide and up to 7m deep. Beyond this is a counter-scarp bank which would originally have extended as an upstanding earthwork around the entire circuit. This is now only visible above the present ground level for approximately 250m on the north west side of the monument. Part excavation in the 19th century demonstrated that the main rampart was sarsen-faced like the Ridgeway hillforts at Uffington and Alfred's Castle. The discovery of a burial cist on the south side of the rampart suggests that the hillfort was reused in the Saxon period. Recent excavation has revealed evidence of round houses, pits, tracks and other features previously identified by geophysical survey. Excluded from the scheduling are the tarmac surface of the road and all fences and gate posts, 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: 28183

Legacy System: RSM


PRN 7200, C.A.O., Letcombe Castle, (1996)

End of official listing