Ancient Monuments

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An unfinished hillfort, a saucer barrow, a disc barrow and sections of two linear earthworks on Ladle Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Ecchinswell, Sydmonton and Bishops Green, Hampshire

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Latitude: 51.3084 / 51°18'30"N

Longitude: -1.315 / 1°18'53"W

OS Eastings: 447846.357295

OS Northings: 156811.477802

OS Grid: SU478568

Mapcode National: GBR 82Y.Y3B

Mapcode Global: VHCZY.5C5T

Entry Name: An unfinished hillfort, a saucer barrow, a disc barrow and sections of two linear earthworks on Ladle Hill

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Last Amended: 27 September 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012038

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25616

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: Ecchinswell, Sydmonton and Bishops Green

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Whitchurch with Tufton with Litchfield

Church of England Diocese: Winchester


The monument includes an unfinished Early Iron Age hillfort, a disc barrow, a
saucer barrow and sections of two linear earthworks of Bronze Age date
situated on Ladle Hill. The longer of the two earthworks runs along the
western edge of Great Litchfield Down and is incorporated in the ditch of the
hillfort which occupies the summit of the hill; the second earthwork runs on a
north to south alignment c.30m to its east. The saucer barrow lies within the
hillfort and the disc barrow is outside it, c.30m to the north. Another
upstanding section of the longer earthwork lies c.1.1km further to the south
west and is the subject of a separate scheduling.

The hillfort, represented by an incomplete ditch and internal bank with an
irregular inner circuit of soil dumps, has overall external dimensions of
c.227m (east to west) by c.208m. The ditch consists of separate sections of
varying size, of which the most complete, c.160m long and up to 1.6m deep, is
at the western side of the hillfort; however, only c.50m of the accompanying
bank has been constructed towards the southern end of the ditch. One of two
probable entrances lies at the southern end of the long western ditch section,
the other being at the eastern side of the hillfort. A slight ditch and bank
can be traced across the unexcavated causeways between the ditch sections,
except at the entrances, and are thought to have been used to mark out the
extent of the hillfort. A low bank also runs along the outer edge of the north
western and northern arc of the ditch from the point at which the earlier
convergent linear earthwork disappears, and may be associated with this
earlier feature rather than with the hillfort. The interior of the hillfort
contains an irregular array of soil dumps set back from the line of the bank,
and the earlier saucer barrow.

The saucer barrow is in the north eastern quadrant of the hillfort. The
barrow, which is slight, has an overall diameter of c.9m, and neither the
outer bank nor the undisturbed part of the central mound is more than 0.15m
high; the mound has a 2m wide hollow in its centre, probably marking the site
of antiquarian excavation.

The disc barrow lies north of the hillfort on the less steep, higher part of
the slope above a section that falls sharply away. The barrow has an overall
diameter of c.43m: the outer bank is 4m to 5m wide and 0.5m to 0.7m high; the
ditch is c.4m wide and 0.8m to 1m deep, and the central platform holds a low
mound c.12m in diameter and 0.5m high. A depression in the mound marks the
probable site of antiquarian excavation.

The western linear earthwork runs north eastward for c.765m before being
absorbed into the line of the hillfort ditch. For most of its course, the
feature runs along the top of the scarp at the western edge of Great
Litchfield Down, heading towards the summit of Ladle Hill where it converges
with the western arc of the later and much larger hillfort ditch. A low bank,
up to 0.15m high and c.3m wide, is visible to the west of the ditch on the
more gentle slope west of the hillfort, but elsewhere the feature can be seen
as a step up to 2m deep and between 2m to 3m wide at the edge of the arable
fields on the top of the down. The earthwork has been levelled by ploughing to
the south west.

The eastern linear earthwork extends for c.120m. Here also the bank lies to
the west of the ditch, giving the feature an overall width of c.6m. The bank
has a maximum height of 0.3m and the ditch is up to 0.25m deep. The earthwork
peters out above the steep slope to the north and has been levelled by
ploughing to the south.

All fencing and associated posts are excluded from the scheduling but the
ground beneath them is included.

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 univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and
surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions.
They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used
between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for
earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the
ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on
such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with
display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of
redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen.
The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of
slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may
survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and
between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or
two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned
ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the
passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by
outworks. 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. Large
univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded
nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the
chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is
marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further
examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north.
Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in
their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual
components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their
importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron
Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed
to be of national importance.

Saucer and disc barrows are both funerary monuments of the Early Bronze Age;
most disc barrows date from the period 1400-1200 BC. Both types of barrow
occur either in isolation or in round barrow cemeteries. Saucer barrows were
constructed as a circular area of level ground defined by a bank and internal
ditch and largely occupied by a single low, squat mound covering one or more
burials, usually in a pit. The burials, either inhumations or cremations, are
sometimes accompanied by pottery vessels, tools and personal ornaments. Disc
barrows, the most fragile type of round barrow, were similarly constructed;
they are circular or oval in plan, containing one or more central or
eccentrically located small, low mounds, covering burials, again usually in
pits. The burials, usually cremations, are frequently accompanied by pottery
vessels, tools and personal ornaments. It has been suggested that disc barrows
were normally used for the burial of women, although this remains unproven.
However, it is likely that the individuals buried were of high status. Both
saucer and disc barrows are rare nationally, the former being one of the
rarest recognised forms of round barrow with about 60 examples nationally, the
latter with about 250 examples; most of both types occur in Wessex. The
presence of grave goods and, in disc barrows, their richness, provides
important evidence for chronological and cultural links amongst prehistoric
communities over a wide area of southern England, as well as providing an
insight into their beliefs and social organisation. All examples are
considered worthy of protection.

Much of the archaeological landscape of Ladle Hill and the surrounding area is
preserved as earthworks or crop or soil marks, which together will provide a
detailed understanding of the nature and development of agriculture and
settlement on the north Hampshire downs. The unfinished Iron Age hillfort on
Ladle Hill forms the outstanding visual focus of the area. In addition, the
well preserved linear earthworks, one incorporated in the structure of the
hillfort, and the disc and saucer barrows indicate a diversity of earlier
activity. Together these represent a rare combination of monument classes of
Bronze Age and later date constructed on the downs. Despite some disturbance
to the barrows, all of these features will contain archaeological and
environmental information relating to their construction and use. The
unfinished hillfort will provide a rare insight into the setting out and
construction of this type of site.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Piggott, S, 'Antiquity' in Ladle Hill-an unfinished hillfort, (1931), 474-85
Piggott, S, 'Antiquity' in Ladle Hill-an unfinished hillfort, (1931), 474-85
Ordnance Survey, SU 45NE 24, (1956)

Source: Historic England

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