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Wandlebury Camp: a multivallate hillfort, earlier univallate hillfort, Iron Age cemetery and 17th century formal garden remains

A Scheduled Monument in Stapleford, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.1588 / 52°9'31"N

Longitude: 0.1828 / 0°10'57"E

OS Eastings: 549407.655879

OS Northings: 253414.699998

OS Grid: TL494534

Mapcode National: GBR M98.R07

Mapcode Global: VHHKB.3ZZY

Entry Name: Wandlebury Camp: a multivallate hillfort, earlier univallate hillfort, Iron Age cemetery and 17th century formal garden remains

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Last Amended: 1 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009395

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24406

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Stapleford

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Stapleford St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Ely


Wandlebury Camp occupies a commanding position on a plateau at the crest of
the Gog Magog Hills, about 600m south west of the Via Devana Roman road. The
monument includes an Early Iron Age slight univallate hillfort which was
altered in the later Iron Age into a large multivallate hillfort. Further
alterations to the site occurred in the late 17th and 18th centuries when a
mansion with stables and a formal garden was constructed within the defences
for Lord Godolphin.

The visible remains of the defensive earthworks are those of the later
multivallate hillfort, which is circular in plan, having a diameter of almost
320m. At their maximum extent the defences consisted of a pair of concentric
ditches separated by a bank, an outer or `counterscarp' bank, and a third bank
within the inner ditch. The counterscarp bank has been reduced in places over
the years but is generally 10m wide and 1m-2m in height. The outer ditch is
between 10m and 15m wide and up to 3m deep. The area enclosed by the outer
ditch was landscaped in the 17th century to form gardens and orchards; the
inner ditch was infilled at this stage and the banks reduced in height. The
intervening bank separating the ditches now stands to a height of
approximately 1m, and slight earthworks mark the line of the inner ditch and
bank on the northern side of the enclosure. Partial excavation has revealed
that below ground remains of Iron Age structures and storage pits survive in
the interior of the hillfort, and that the infilled ditch is preserved as a
buried feature retaining a V-shaped profile. Iron Age coins, brooches, beads
and weaving combs have been recovered from the interior of the monument at
various times since the 17th century.

The slight univallate hillfort was identified during excavations in 1955-6
when it was found that the surviving, outer, ditch had superseded an earlier
ditch, 4.6m deep and 2.4m wide at the base. The earlier ditch was accompanied
by an inner rampart consisting of a timber revetted bank 4.3m wide. Artefacts
found during the excavation date the earlier hillfort to the fourth century
BC, after which the site fell into disrepair followed by a long period of
abandonment. The site was reoccupied in the early first century AD, at which
time the defences were upgraded to form the multivallate hillfort.

Two inhumations, thought to be Iron Age in date, were discovered in 1967
during extension work to the cricket pitch some 25m outside the south east
entrance to the site. A further five inhumations of similar date were revealed
in 1976 when high winds uprooted trees in the same area. The narrow spur
containing these burials, which extends to the south east of the hillfort, is
therefore considered to be the location of a cemetery related to the
occupation of the hillfort.

In the late 17th and early 18th century a mansion with associated outbuildings
and stables was constructed by Lord Godolphin in the southern part of the
interior of the fort. The mansion was demolished in 1956, at which time the
stable building to the west was converted into houses (West House) and the
offices and shop of the Cambridge Preservation Society (Gog Magog House). The
foundations of the mansion are now indicated by low walls containing a raised
garden to the east of Gog Magog House. To the north of these foundations three
regular platforms descend towards a rectangular pond. The terraces are 36m in
length (approximately the same length as the southern aspect of the original
mansion), 12m wide, and descend in 0.5m intervals. The pond, which was
re-excavated in 1988 to reveal its former dimensions, measures approximately
30m north to south by 20m east to west and lies about 10m to the north of the
lowest terrace. The pond and terraces are thought to be part of the formal
garden designed in the late 17th century to complement Lord Godolphin's new

Four causeways give access to the hillfort, all of which are modern, as is the
bridge to the south east of Gog Magog House. The abutments of an earlier
post-medieval bridge lie near a modern pond to the south of East House.
Underground service tunnels, constructed in the post-medieval period to enable
the unobtrusive movement of servants, run south eastwards from the former
mansion and stables towards the outer ditch. These brick-lined abandoned
tunnels now serve as a bat sanctuary and a purpose-built entrance structure is
located on the inner side of the outer ditch. The 15th century, timber-framed
granary located to the east of Gog Magog House was brought to the site by the
Cambridge Preservation Society and re-erected in 1981.

The following are excluded from the scheduling: Gog Magog House, West House
and the three cottages further to the south (all Listed Grade II); the Grade
II Listed Tadlow granary, the Farmery, the modern bridges, and all other
modern buildings (including the entrance to the bat roost); all fences and
garden walls and the made surfaces of all drives, paths and courtyards;
although the ground beneath all these features is included in order to
protect buried remains.

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

Large multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of between
5ha and 85ha in area, located on hills and defined by two or more lines of
concentric earthworks set at intervals of up to 15m. They date to the Iron
Age period, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC
and the mid-first century AD. They are generally regarded as centres of
permanent occupation, defended in response to increasing warfare, a reflection
of the power struggle between competing elites.
Earthworks usually consist of a rampart and ditch, although some only have
ramparts. Access to the interior is generally provided by two entrances
although examples with one and more than two have been noted. These may
comprise a single gap in the rampart, inturned or offset ramparts,
oblique approaches, guardrooms or outworks. Internal features generally
include evidence for intensive occupation, often in the form of oval or
circular houses. These display variations in size and are often clustered,
for example, along streets. Four- and six-post structures, interpreted as
raised granaries, also occur widely while a few sites appear to contain
evidence for temples. Other features associated with settlement include
platforms, paved areas, pits, gullies, fencelines, hearths and ovens.
Additional evidence, in the form of artefacts, suggests that industrial
activity such as bronze- and iron-working as well as pottery manufacture
occurred on many sites.
Large multivallate hillforts are rare with around 50 examples recorded
nationally. These occur mostly in two concentrations, in Wessex and the Welsh
Marches, although scattered examples occur elsewhere.
In view of the rarity of large multivallate hillforts and their importance in
understanding the nature of social organisation within the Iron Age period,
all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of
national importance.

The multivallate hillfort at Wandlebury Camp was preceded by a slight
univallate hillfort, a type of hillfort characterised by a single line of
defences that are usually relatively small in scale. Hillforts of this type
are rare with around 150 examples known nationally. The majority of slight
univallate hillforts were constructed in the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age and
may have served as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places of refuge
or permanent settlements.

Wandlebury Camp is one of only three large multivallate hillforts known to
survive in Cambridgeshire. Despite some alteration, the monument still retains
many of its original features, including an extramural cemetery to the south
east of the defences. Small scale excavation has demonstrated the survival of
below ground features in the interior, including evidence of Iron Age
buildings and buried rampart structures. Excavation, and the study of
artefacts retrieved since the late 17th century, have also shed significant
light on the development of the site from univallate to multivallate fort
between the Early and later Iron Age. The hillfort lies in relatively close
proximity to other monuments of similar period and function, such as the
hillfort at Arbury Camp to the north. Wandlebury Camp may also have formed
part of a series of defended sites including Borough Hill, Arbury Banks and
Ravensburgh Castle which extend across the chalk uplands to the south east.
The comparative study of chronological and morphological variations between
these monuments provides important evidence for the development of prehistoric
societies in the region.

Post-medieval formal gardens are usually found in direct association with the
dwellings of high status individuals in society and were created as an
expression of wealth and refinement, forming a setting for such residences.
Seventeenth and 18th century gardens tend to comprise a regular or symmetrical
pattern of flowerbeds, water features, paths, terraces or lawns forming a
vista related to the main building.

The garden at Wandlebury is a well preserved example, with terraces leading
down to a rectangular pond to the north of the former mansion. Later
developments wherein the garden formed the centre of a more `natural'
landscape of parkland and orchards are also evident. The presence of these
remains enhances the importance of the monument by illustrating an unusual
sequence of adaptations of the hillfort interior in later periods.

Wandlebury Camp is open to the public.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Camden, , Britannia, (1722)
Fox, C, Archaeology of the Cambridge Region, (1923), 135
Phillips, C W, The Victoria History of the County, (1948), 40
'The Gentleman's Magazine' in The Gentleman's Magazine, , Vol. xxxvi, (1883), 118
Denston, C B, Cra'ster, M D, 'PCAS' in , , Vol. 60, (1967), 108-109
Evans, C, 'CAU Excavation Report' in Excavations at Arbury Camp, Cambridgeshire, (1990)
Hartley, B R, 'PCAS' in Wandlebury Camp Iron Age Hillfort. Excavations of 1955-6, (1957), 1-27
Hartley, B R, 'PCAS' in Wandlebury Camp Iron Age Hillfort. Excavations of 1955-6, (1957), 1-27
Taylor, A, 'PCAS' in Wandlebury Camp, , Vol. 67, (1977), 118
Taylor, A, Denton, B, 'PCAS' in , , Vol. 67, (1977), 1
Cambs SMR 04636, (1990)
converstaion with the site warden, Clarke, W, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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