Hillfort, oval barrow, round barrows, field systems and earthwork enclosure on Old Winchester Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017899

Date first listed: 30-Nov-1925

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Mar-1998


Ordnance survey map of Hillfort, oval barrow, round barrows, field systems and earthwork enclosure on Old Winchester Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hampshire

District: Winchester (District Authority)

Parish: Corhampton and Meonstoke

County: Hampshire

District: Winchester (District Authority)

Parish: Exton

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: SU 64093 20505


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 and associated oval barrow, round barrows, field systems and earthwork enclosure on Old Winchester Hill survive well and will retain archaeological remains and environmental evidence. The close association of these features and related finds gives a detailed insight into the near continuous use of this hilltop from the early prehistoric to post- medieval periods.


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


The monument includes a large univallate hillfort, probably of Early Iron Age date, a Neolithic oval or long barrow, 11 Bronze Age round barrows, a possible pond barrow, a series of Celtic fields and associated trackways, a series of medieval or post-medieval plough furrows and banks and a suggested earthwork enclosure of unknown date. The hillfort is situated on a prominent, steep sided chalk spur, capped in places by clay-with-flints, which forms the westernmost extension of the Hampshire North Downs chalk escarpment. It commands extensive views in all directions. The defences of the hillfort completely enclose the spur, forming a roughly east-west aligned sub-trapezoidal interior area of about 4ha. They are of a relatively simple design, suggesting an Early Iron Age date, c.550-400 BC. The ramparts are most substantial adjacent to the two original entrances at the south east and west ends of the hillfort where they rise to about 3m above the interior and up to 10m above an exterior ditch and counterscarp bank. Elsewhere they stand between 0.5m and 1.5m above the interior and about 6m above the ditch bottom. A pronounced quarry scoop runs inside and parallel to the ramparts. The external ditch is shallow and flat-bottomed, 2m-8m wide and up to 1.8m deep on all sides except the north east where it is replaced by a 7m-12m wide ledge. The counterscarp bank, also absent to the north east, is 3m-16m wide and stands to an external height of about 2m. The ramparts are inturned at both entrances. The south east entrance survives as a 7m wide gap through the ramparts, flanked on the northern side by a low flint wall and strengthened by an external hornwork. The west entrance is simpler but appears to make use of the adjacent round barrows as an additional element in its defence. The main use of the interior of the hillfort is represented by the slight surface remains of approximately 70 depressions and associated pits believed to represent hut platforms. The remains of a Celtic field system survives to the west as a regular arrangement of slight scarps enclosing small rectangular fields with associated small flint clearance mounds. Further remains of Celtic fields and associated trackways are visible outside the defences on the south slope of the hillfort within the southern projection of the area of protection. At least two lynchets survive as slight banks runnng parallel to the ramparts about 25m and 50m below the counterscarp bank to the east. Two parallel double lynchet trackways extend across the base of the slope, both 7m-8m wide. The lower trackway is most substantial where it is preserved beneath a yew plantation to the west. It intersects with a third trackway which extends outside the area of protection to the south west as a public path known as Mile End Lane. The earlier use of the monument is represented by a suggested earthwork enclosure, three groups of barrows and by Mesolithic and Neolithic flintwork recorded immediately east of the monument. The enclosure is indicated by the infilled remains of a ditch across the interior of the hillfort at the eastern end, partly truncated by a later dewpond. The ditch may pass beneath the ramparts and turn to the north east where a ledge, 2m-7m wide, extends along the slope of the spur. A group of three substantial Bronze Age bowl barrows and a postulated pond barrow are arranged within the interior of the hillfort along the central spine of the spur. The largest, to the west, comprises a central mound 2m high and 26m across, surrounded by a ditch, 3m-5m wide and 0.5m deep. The second lies 12m to the east and comprises a central mound, 2m high and 18m across, enclosed by an infilled ditch, 0.3m deep and 2m wide. The mound has a slight depression in the centre indicative of past excavation. The third barrow, 13m further east, comprises a central mound, 1.5m high and 17m across, enclosed by an infilled ditch, 2m-4m wide and up to 0.3m deep. The mound has a hollow centre and appears lowered and spread. The pond barrow comprises a circular depression, 1.5m deep and 13m across, surrounded by a slight bank, 0.2m high and 3m-4m wide. A Neolithic oval or long barrow and a Bronze Age round barrow cemetery lie as a group outside the hillfort abutting and partly underlying the western ramparts. All are below the crest of a slight slope. The Neolithic barrow is the northernmost of the group. It comprises a pear-shaped mound, approximately 1.2m high, and approximately 25m long by 12m wide, enclosed on all sides except the north by an infilled ditch, 1m-2m wide and about 0.2m deep. The first (most northerly) of the round barrows comprises a heavily lowered and spread bowl barrow, about 0.3m high and 14m across, enclosed within an infilled ditch, about 0.15m deep. The second comprises a lowered bowl barrow with a hollow centre, about 1.2m high and 17m across, enclosed on all sides except the west by an infilled ditch approximately 0.3m deep. Both of these barrows truncate a linear earthwork feature which underlies the hillfort's counterscarp bank. The second barrow partly underlies the third, a possible saucer barrow which comprises a central mound, at least 0.5m high, and 15m across, with a narrow berm on the northern side. It is enclosed on the west, north, and north east sides by a ditch, approximately 0.3m deep and 3m wide, and an outer bank, 0.2m high and 5m wide, which partly underlie the counterscarp bank of the hillfort and the most northerly mound of a twin barrow to the south. This fourth barrow comprises two low mounds, each about 0.5m high and 10m in diameter, occupying the full width of an oval platform enclosed on the east and west sides by a ditch, about 3m wide and 0.3m deep. Each of the mounds has a slight hollow in the centre and the eastern ditch is slightly encroached upon by the counterscarp bank of the hillfort. A fifth barrow lies about 10m west of this group. It is a bowl barrow comprising a low central mound, about 0.4m high and 14m across, surrounded by an infilled ditch, approximately 0.3m deep and 2m wide, which is barely perceptible on the western side. All of the barrows appear lowered and spread by ploughing and each is damaged by burrowing and associated erosion. A third group or alignment includes at least three Bronze Age bowl barrows protruding in a false-crest sighted position from the southern couterscarp bank of the hillfort. The most westerly of these comprises a semi-circular mound, about 0.7m high and 19m across. The second, 30m further east, comprises a semicircular mound, about 0.6m high and 22m across. The third, 40m further east, is a low mound about 0.3m high and 11m across. At least two further possible bowl barrows protrude from the southern counterscarp bank to the west. All are reduced by later ploughing. A saucer barrow previously recorded on the same alignment immediately outside the south east corner of the hillfort's ramparts has now been levelled without trace by ploughing, as has a bowl barrow previously located beside it to the north east. The later use of the monument is represented by Roman finds recorded within the interior of the hillfort and by the remains of medieval or post-medieval ploughing which survive within the hillfort as narrow furrows spaced 15m apart. Further shallow furrows, 0.1m deep and spaced 10m apart, extend within the protected area down the south slope of the hillfort where they overlie the Celtic lynchets and trackways and encroach onto the hillfort's counterscarp. Some furrows are overlain by later banks, 0.3m high, which may extend across the ramparts into the hillfort interior and align with a parish boundary bank that crosses the hillfort from east to west. Recent military use of the monument is represented by several sharply cut holes along the crest of the ramparts and within the interior and by circular areas of phosphorous contamination in the field to the east. An orientation plinth, a triangulation point and all benches, posts and water troughs and associated fencing, gates, stiles and 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 31159

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Schadla-Hall, R T, Winchester District, the Archaeological Potential, (1977), 24 88-9
Williams-Freeman, JP, Introduction to field archaeology as illustrated by Hampshire, (1915), 270 391
Hall, L, 'EM 138. Landscapes of Prehistory' in An Archaeological Trail for Old Winchester Hill, (1996)
RCHME, A New Earthwork Survey of Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire, (1995)
RCHME, A New Earthwork Survey of Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire, (1995)
RCHME, A New Earthwork Survey of Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire, (1995)
RCHME, A New Earthwork Survey of Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire, (1995)
RCHME, A New Earthwork Survey of Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire, (1995)

End of official listing