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A hilltop enclosed by Iron Age cross dykes, an associated field system and Bronze Age barrows at Butser Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Buriton, Hampshire

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Latitude: 50.976 / 50°58'33"N

Longitude: -0.9852 / 0°59'6"W

OS Eastings: 471344.922

OS Northings: 120107.5186

OS Grid: SU713201

Mapcode National: GBR BB3.PRX

Mapcode Global: FRA 86TJ.Q01

Entry Name: A hilltop enclosed by Iron Age cross dykes, an associated field system and Bronze Age barrows at Butser Hill

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Last Amended: 22 December 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008692

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24319

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: Buriton

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Buriton St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Portsmouth


The monument includes a hilltop which was partly enclosed by cross dykes in
the Iron Age, an associated field system, also of Iron Age date, three Bronze
Age barrows, two of which have been levelled, a number of intercutting hollow
ways which cross the eastern hillside, and two hollow ways traversing the
north eastern spur. The hollow ways are dated to the post-medieval period but
may have earlier origins.
The earliest occupation of the hill is represented by a scatter of Mesolithic
and Neolithic flintwork. Subsequently, in the Bronze Age, three round barrows
were built. Two of these have been levelled but the ditches and burial pits
will survive as buried features. The third, a bell barrow is visible as a
irregular mound c.30m in diameter and up to 1.5m high. The ditch, from which
material was quarried during the construction of the barrow, has become
infilled but will survive as a buried feature and its position is possibly
represented by an 8m long and 4m wide depression of the barrow mound.
In the Iron Age period approximately 30ha of the hilltop were partly enclosed
by cross dykes built across the ridge between Butser and Hilhampton Down and
on three of the hill's six spurs. The cross dykes, which vary in length
between 320m and c.75m, consist usually of a ditch and single low bank,
although the two earthworks on the Hilhampton ridge, the easiest access to the
hilltop, are more substantial. Here, the outer cross dyke is 90m long and
comprises a ditch up to 8m wide and 1m deep, flanked on either side by banks
up to 6m wide. Some 90m to the north east, the second, inner, earthwork
consists of a 320m long bank and ditch set in a segmented, south west facing
arc. The 13m wide bank lies on the uphill side of a ditch up to 11m wide. Both
earthworks terminate above steep coombes.
Two cross dykes on the west flank of the north western spur are 265m and 128m
long respectively, the longer one 80m upslope of the shorter. The higher
earthwork has a short right-angled offset section at its southern end. Both
features consist of a ditch and single bank on the downslope side, both
ditches being up to 4m wide. The bank of the longer earthwork is up to 7.5m
wide; the bank of the shorter cross dyke is 6m wide. Both features stop at a
steep coombe to the north; to the south, they cease on less steep ground north
of Limekiln Lane.
The cross dyke on the southern spur of the hill has an overall length of
c.100m, but is in two interrupted sections, 25m (western) and 50m (eastern)
long respectively. The feature comprises an irregular low bank up to 6m wide
on the upslope side of a 5m wide shallow ditch.
The cross dyke on the north eastern spur of the hill is 98m long and consists
of a 3m wide bank on the downslope side of a 4m wide ditch. The earthwork cuts
across one hollow way and is cut by another.
The field system, represented by lynchets marking former field boundaries,
extends over c.29ha on the lower south eastern slopes of the hill. The
lynchets, which form a generally sub-rectangular field pattern, are up to 450m
long and survive to a maximum height of 2m.
A series of intercutting post-medieval hollow ways crosses the eastern slope
of the hill north of the field system. Now truncated by the deep cutting for
the A3 road, the hollow ways would originally have climbed the hillside from
the Petersfield-Horndean road. The northernmost and deepest track cuts c.5m
into the hillside on the upslope side. The bases of tracks are up to
1.75m wide and, in some, traces of shallow ruts are preserved.
Excluded from the scheduling are the radio station buildings and mast; toilet
block; metalled roads and car parks; fences, steps, gates, stiles, ramps and
associated posts; bridleway, and footpath, marker and sign posts; beacon post;
above-ground water tanks and reservoirs; telegraph poles and cables,
although the ground beneath all these feaures is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Cross dykes occur in upland areas throughout England, running across ridges
and spurs, and consisting of one or more banks. The earliest date to the
Bronze Age and are normally interpreted as boundary markers, probably
demarcating land allotment within communities, although they may also have
been used as trackways, cattle droveways or defensive earthworks. The monument
at Butser Hill is unusual in that a set of cross dykes enclose an area of land
similar in scale to that of some of the larger Iron Age hillforts.
Hillforts and similar sites such as Butser are generally regarded as having
functioned as centres of occupation, stock enclosures, redistribution centres
or places of refuge. As such they may contain evidence of a variety of
internal features including buildings supported by an arrangement of posts and
interpreted as granaries, timber or stone round houses, storage pits and
hearths as well as scattered post holes, stakeholes and gullies.
Despite cultivation of much of the summit plateau, the cross dykes which
partly enclose the hilltop survive well, as do the lynchets of the associated
field system on the lower slopes. The establishment of an experimental Iron
Age farm on Little Butser in the 1970s has greatly increased our
understanding of these remains as well as providing a broad overview of land
use and subsistence in the Iron Age. The bell barrow and hollow ways to the
east and north east are also well-preserved while the levelled bowl barrows
will contain archaeological remains in buried features such as the encircling
ditches. Partial excavations on Butser Hill have demonstrated that
archaeological evidence survives relating to the construction and use of the
visible earthworks as well as to contemporary land use and earlier occupation.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bradley, R, 'Hants Newsletter' in The trial excavation of two earthworks on Butser Hill, (1974), 83-84
Bradley, R, 'Hants Newsletter' in The trial excavation of two earthworks on Butser Hill, (1974), 83-84
Bradley, R, 'CBA Groups 12 and 13 Archaeol Review' in Buriton, Little Butser, , Vol. 6, (1971), 22
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Hampshire Barrows, , Vol. 14, (1940), 358
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Hampshire Barrows, , Vol. 14, (1939), 210
Piggott, S, 'Antiquity' in Butser Hill, , Vol. 4, (1930), 197-198
Piggott, S, 'Antiquity' in Butser Hill, , Vol. 4, (1930), 199
Piggott, S, 'Antiquity' in Butser Hill, , Vol. 4, (1930), 193-196
Piggott, S, 'Antiquity' in Butser Hill, , Vol. 4, (1930), 192
Ordnance Survey, SU 72 SW 6, (1963)

Source: Historic England

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