Ancient Monuments

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Danesborough Camp: a slight univallate hillfort 420m north of The Knoll

A Scheduled Monument in Aspley Heath, Central Bedfordshire

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Latitude: 52.0042 / 52°0'15"N

Longitude: -0.6597 / 0°39'34"W

OS Eastings: 492103.591818

OS Northings: 234824.990497

OS Grid: SP921348

Mapcode National: GBR F24.81R

Mapcode Global: VHFQQ.JW4F

Entry Name: Danesborough Camp: a slight univallate hillfort 420m north of The Knoll

Scheduled Date: 3 July 1933

Last Amended: 4 November 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011302

English Heritage Legacy ID: 19083

County: Central Bedfordshire

Civil Parish: Aspley Heath

Built-Up Area: Woburn Sands

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Woburn Sands

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes a slight univallate hillfort situated at the northern
end of a small steep-sided spur. The hillfort is oval in shape, measuring some
210m north-east to south-west by 130m transversely, and has an internal area
of about 2.4ha. The defences run roughly around the 150m contour using the
natural steepness of the hillslope which has been artificially scarped to
further steepen the slope and create an outer ditch, the spoil from which was
thrown outwards to form a parallel outer rampart. The latter averages 1.5m
high on its lower side and is 1.7m from its top to the ditch bottom on the
upper side. From the bottom of the ditch to the top of the main slope the
scarp rises steeply to a height of 3.8m.
The defences are strongest around the south-east side of the hillfort where
the main scarp is at its highest and a low inner rampart, varying between 0.5m
and 1m high, runs along its upper edge. The earthworks appear unfinished or
damaged at the north end of the enclosure where a series of forest paths
converge. The main pathway which enters here crosses the interior of the
hillfort to exit in the south-west corner of the enclosure. Excavations in
this south-western area have demonstrated that the original entrance lay at
this position, the causeway crossing the ditch here forming a part of the
original structure. Pottery from this excavation suggests that the hillfort is
earlier than the second century AD and that it probably dates somewhere
between the first century BC and the first century AD.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 10 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 between 150 and 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 include square or rectangular buildings supported
by four to six postholes and interpreted as raised granaries, timber or stone
round houses, large storage pits and hearths as well as scattered postholes,
stakeholes and gullies. 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.

Despite some disturbance to the interior caused by afforestation, Danesborough
Camp survives well and is a good example of its class. Partial excavation of
an area of the site demonstrated that archaeological remains will survive
relating to the occupation of the hillfort, the economy of its inhabitants and
the landscape in which they lived.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bradbrooke, W, Wyness, J, Berry, J, Danesborough Fort, (1924)

Source: Historic England

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