Ancient Monuments

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Beacon Hill hillfort, enclosure and linear boundary

A Scheduled Monument in Woodhouse, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.7278 / 52°43'39"N

Longitude: -1.2445 / 1°14'40"W

OS Eastings: 451115.420045

OS Northings: 314725.566806

OS Grid: SK511147

Mapcode National: GBR 8L4.XVY

Mapcode Global: WHDHW.VPKP

Entry Name: Beacon Hill hillfort, enclosure and linear boundary

Scheduled Date: 20 August 1935

Last Amended: 19 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008835

English Heritage Legacy ID: 17111

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Woodhouse

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Woodhouse Eaves St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Leicester


The monument at Beacon Hill is situated on the Charnwood uplands north west of
Leicester and includes a slight univallate hillfort, a linear boundary, and an
enclosure which is contained in a second area. The site occupies a large area
extending for more than 500m north of Beacon road. The defended area is
enclosed for about three quarters of the circuit of the hill by a ditch up to
1.5m deep and 8m wide and an outer bank surviving up to 1.5m high on the
southern side of the monument. An outer ditch, which is up to 1.5m deep,
encloses an additional area up to 70m wide on the south side. The faint
remains of outworks lie on the south west side of the hillfort and are
contained by a ditch, measuring less than 0.5m deep, and stretches of a bank
which is up to 1.5m high and 8m wide. Running north east from the main
defences for a distance of 300m is a ditch up to 0.75m deep which divides at
the north end and has a low bank on the south side. It is identified as part
of a contemporary linear boundary dividing up the landscape for pastoral
purposes. Part of an enclosure measuring at least 90m x 30m is situated within
the second area 70m from the hillfort outworks on the south west side. It is
defined by a ditch 5m wide and 1.5m deep with a slight inner bank. There is
now no indication of a continuation of the enclosure in the adjacent field to
the west.

No excavations have ever taken place on Beacon Hill but some chance finds have
been made, the most significant of which is a Late Bronze Age founder's hoard,
found in a pit in 1858, which included two spearheads and a socketed axe. A
bronze axe mould has also been found on the hill, together with a bronze
bracelet found nearby, also of Late Bronze Age date. These finds may suggest
that the site was a production centre for bronze implements, or alternatively
that it was used as a place of refuge or a centre for trade. The name `Beacon
Hill' recalls the use of the hill as a signalling post, although no trace now
remains of the beacon.

Excluded from the scheduling are the surfaces of Beacon Road, all made up
trackways and that part of the car park which lies within the area of the
scheduling. The ground beneath these features is included in the scheduling.

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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes,
generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and
defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively
small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth -
fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to
their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have
generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places
of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a
rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access
to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple
gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation
indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate
features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few
examples. 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. Slight
univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally.
Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of
the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is
relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the
Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within
the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh
Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight
univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition
between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive
comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further
archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

The site at Beacon Hill is the only surviving example of this class of
monument in the county. Finds from the site, including a founder's hoard,
indicate its use as a centre for production, refuge or trade.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Liddle, P, A Guide to 20 Archaeological Sites in Leicestershire, (1983), 42-3

Source: Historic England

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