Hillfort on Banbury Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018873

Date first listed: 14-Jul-1933

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Hillfort on Banbury Hill
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Oct-2018 at 13:30:09.


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

County: Dorset

District: North Dorset (District Authority)

Parish: Okeford Fitzpaine

National Grid Reference: ST 78980 11931


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.

Despite having been disturbed in the past by ploughing, the hillfort on Banbury Hill, is a comparatively well preserved example of its class and will contain archaeological deposits providing information about Iron Age society, economy and environment.


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


The monument includes a univallate hillfort on the summit of a low but locally prominent hill 850m north east of Common Farm. The hillfort has a bank, 15m wide and 0.5m high above the interior, with an external ditch, 8m wide and up to 1.5m deep, enclosing a roughly circular area of approximately 1.2 ha. In places, on the northern and southern sides, the bank has been denuded and is no more than a scarp 1m high. The ditch is no longer visible on the surface along part of the circumference, particularly on the eastern side, but will survive as a buried feature. The entrance, on the western side, is protected by an external bank, 15m wide and 1m high, with traces of an external ditch. This branches out from the main rampart at the north western corner of the hillfort, running south west for a short length before curving back in towards the hillfort enclosure, creating a passage which narrows down to about 2m at one point. In 1986 the excavation of a trench for a water pipe was observed across the earthwork to the north of the entrance gap and across the outer bank on the western side. The rampart was found to be constructed of local limestone and occasional flint/chert fragments, 2.5m wide at the base, with a thick accumulation of gravels on the outer face, suggesting that the bank generally has been spread by ploughing. All fence and gate posts, and the water trough with feeder pipe 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: 31063

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
'Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Soc' in Observations at Banbury Hill Camp, Okeford Fitzpaine, , Vol. 108, (1986), 175-177

End of official listing