Hardwell Camp promontory fort


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2020. 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 - 1017820.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 04-Dec-2020 at 07:58:04.


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

Vale of White Horse (District Authority)
Compton Beauchamp
National Grid Reference:
SU 28756 86728

Reasons for Designation

Promontory forts are a type of hillfort in which conspicuous naturally defended sites are adapted as enclosures by the construction of one or more earth or stone ramparts placed across the neck of a spur in order to divide it from the surrounding land. Coastal situations, using headlands defined by steep natural cliffs, are common while inland similar topographic settings defined by natural cliffs are also used. The ramparts and accompanying ditches formed the main artificial defence, but timber palisades may have been erected along the cliff edges. Access to the interior was generally provided by an entrance through the ramparts. The interior of the fort was used intensively for settlement and related activities, and evidence for timber- and stone- walled round houses can be expected, together with the remains of buildings used for storage and enclosures for animals. Promontory forts are generally Iron Age in date, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are broadly contemporary with other types of hillfort. They are regarded as settlements of high status, probably occupied on a permanent basis, and recent interpretations suggest that their construction and choice of location had as much to do with display as defence. Promontory forts are rare nationally with less than 100 recorded examples. In view of their rarity and their importance in the understanding of the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are considered nationally important.

The promontory fort at Hardwell Camp combines elements of contour forts and other techniques to produce what is a carefully planned defensive structure. This makes it unusual in comparison to many of the other hillforts along the Ridgeway which almost exclusively use artificial defences alone and which often lie on unlikely defensive sites. Hardwell Camp survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, function and the landscape in which it was built. Its close proximity to the important group of monuments at White Horse Hill may also provide evidence of wider landscape divisions during the Iron Age period.


The monument includes a hillfort known as Hardwell Camp, situated at the head of several small valleys on a north facing promontory overlooking the Vale of the White Horse from the edge of the Downs. It lies c.1km north west of Uffington Castle hillfort and the White Horse and c.1km north east of Wayland's Smithy Neolithic chambered tomb. The promontory fort was built using a combination of rampart banks, ditches and enhanced natural features to enclose an area roughly 200m square with two enclosed spurs extending to the north. The main rampart runs along the top edge of the valleys which lie immediately east and west of the hillfort. It is built of stone rubble and turf and measures c.10m wide, standing between 0.5m and 1.5m high above the interior. The rampart runs east-west across the relatively level ground to the south where it is interrupted by an original entrance. This open side is further protected by a 16m wide ditch and a second outer bank of similar proportions to the first. The north side of the monument is defined by the top end of the cutting which contains the track. Here, a slight internal rampart marks the edge of the contour. However, below this two projecting spurs, formed by the two valleys and separated by the cutting, have slight lipped ramparts along their top edges to enhance their defensive use. They would also have provided views across much of the vale below. The inner slopes of the valleys either side of the monument have been landscaped to enhance the defensive nature of the site and form an integral part of its design and functional effectiveness. There are believed to have been two original entrances, one to the south which allowed access to the Ridgeway just under 1km to the south, and the other, to the north, which ran down a steep and formidable cutting to allow access to the Plain below. Excluded from the scheduling are all post and wire fences, pheasant shelters and other associated sheds and structures, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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:
Legacy System:




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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].