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Banjo enclosure, two barrows and associated field system in Blagden Copse

A Scheduled Monument in Hurstbourne Tarrant, Hampshire

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Latitude: 51.2689 / 51°16'7"N

Longitude: -1.4813 / 1°28'52"W

OS Eastings: 436282.980117

OS Northings: 152317.725393

OS Grid: SU362523

Mapcode National: GBR 71Z.B9V

Mapcode Global: VHC2L.8CRM

Entry Name: Banjo enclosure, two barrows and associated field system in Blagden Copse

Scheduled Date: 14 May 1962

Last Amended: 22 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009843

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21904

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: Hurstbourne Tarrant

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Hurstbourne Tarrant St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Winchester


The monument includes an Iron Age `banjo' enclosure, two barrows, and an
associated field system, surviving as earthworks situated in Blagden Copse on
level ground above the valley of the River Swift. The enclosure is one of a
number to the north of Devil's Ditch, including an unusual sub-square
enclosure some 250m to the north east, and is in an area where a number of
important Late Iron Age objects have been found.
`Banjo' enclosures are so-called because of the general shape of this type
of site, with earthworks leading out from the main part of the enclosure to
form the neck of the `banjo'. At this site, the main part of the enclosure
was defined by a ditch with internal and external banks. This can be seen
most clearly on the north side. The banks on the east and west sides only
remain in part and the inner bank is missing on the south side. The entrance
is on the south east corner but there also appears to be a break in the ditch
on the south west corner. The interior of the enclosure measures c.45m east-
west and c.40m north-south. The banks stand to a height of c.0.7m and survive
to a width of 5m. The ditch is c.1.5m wide and c.0.6m deep.
The earthworks which form the `neck' of the banjo are crossed and partly
obscured by a later trackway. They lead from the south east corner of the
enclosure, running south east for a distance of some 20m, before separating
and turning sharply to form antennae; together, the arms of the antennae,
formed by a ditch with a bank on its south east side, create a
north east-south west alignment covering a distance of some 220m. At its
south west end, the ditch turns sharply to the south east and continues for
c.50m with the bank now on the south west side.
Limited excavations of the banjo enclosure have taken place on at least two
separate occasions, in the 1920s and in 1961. In 1961, the ditch was shown
to be V-shaped and contained animal bones and quantities of Iron Age pottery
dating to between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC.
At a distance of c.110m to the south east of the enclosure are two round
barrows c.18m apart. The northern barrow is the largest and is c.10m in
diameter and c.0.8m high. The second barrow, to the south of the first, is
c.6m in diameter and c.0.2m high. The northern of the two barrows has been
partially excavated and recorded as containing an Iron Age cremation burial,
this giving the barrow a similar date to both the banjo enclosure and
associated field system. The southern barrow appears to overlie part of the
Iron Age field system and may therefore be of later date. Both barrows are
thought to have been surrounded by ditches from which mound material was
quarried. These are no longer visible at ground level, having been infilled
over the years, but survive as buried features.
The remains of a contemporary field system lie to the south east and
south west of the enclosure, surviving as lynchets and incorporating the two

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

`Banjo' enclosures are so-called because of their shape, with earthworks
leading out from the main enclosure to form the `neck' of the `banjo'.
The main enclosure is usually of curvilinear plan and less than 0.4ha in
extent. It is defined by a ditch and outer bank; an inner bank may also be
present. Parallel earthworks, defining a trackway, lead from the single
entrance. Away from the main enclosure, the earthworks often turn outwards to
form antennae. Paddocks may be attached to the enclosure and in some cases
the whole complex is enclosed within a surrounding compound.
Most banjo enclosures are thought to have been settlement sites and were
generally constructed in the Middle Iron Age, between 400 and 100 BC. They
appear to have been occupied for long periods of time and some examples
continued in use to the time of the Roman conquest.
The distribution of banjo enclosures is concentrated in Hampshire, Dorset and
Wiltshire, with a number of examples recorded in the surrounding counties and
a few isolated examples elsewhere. They occur as isolated sites or in pairs,
and occasionally as a group of three, generally on hilltops or valley slopes,
and often in association with other archaeological remains, such as linear
ditch systems. Only some 200 examples have been recorded, mostly as cropmark
or soilmark sites; very few survive as earthworks. As a relatively rare
monument class, all examples which survive with significant archaeological
remains are considered to be worthy of protection.
Blagden Copse is part of the remnant woodland of Chute Forest which once
stretched from Collingbourne Wood, inside the Wiltshire border, to Harewood
Forest in Hampshire. Though much of Blagden Copse has been planted by the
Forestry Commission, the condition of the banjo enclosure complex suggests
that little ground disturbance has occurred here since the Romano-British
Very few banjo enclosures survive as earthwork sites, most having been
levelled by ploughing. The survival of the Blagden Copse site, with two
contemporary burial mounds and part of its associated field system, is
remarkable. In addition, the monument is part of an important group of sites
in this area, including an unusual ritual enclosure to the north east.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dewar, H S L, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in The Field Archaeology of Doles, , Vol. 10 (2), (1929)
Stead, I M, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in Excavations in Blagden Copse, Hurstbourne Tarrant, Hants., 1961, , Vol. XXIII p3, (1968)
RCHME, (1977)

Source: Historic England

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