Ancient Monuments

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Loughton camp slight univallate hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Loughton, Essex

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Latitude: 51.6586 / 51°39'30"N

Longitude: 0.0498 / 0°2'59"E

OS Eastings: 541880.66714

OS Northings: 197518.636763

OS Grid: TQ418975

Mapcode National: GBR MC.57B

Mapcode Global: VHHMR.TK5X

Entry Name: Loughton camp slight univallate hillfort

Scheduled Date: 10 August 1923

Last Amended: 4 August 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013518

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24880

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Loughton

Built-Up Area: Loughton

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Loughton, St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument includes Loughton camp, a slight univallate hillfort situated on
a south west facing slope just below the crest of the ridge of sands and
gravels which runs north east to south west through Epping Forest. Ambresbury
Banks, a slight univallate hillfort very similar to Loughton camp in size and
construction, lies c.3kms to the NNE and is scheduled separately.

The hillfort comprises a single bank and ditch earthwork rampart with slight
traces of an outer counterscarp bank. A spring lies within the enclosure which
issues from the south west having caused a large gap in the defences. A marshy
area in this vicinity may originally have been a dammed pool. Several gaps now
exist in the defences but it is not known which is the original entrance,
although that in the north east rampart appears the most likely candidate.
Also within the interior are areas of later quarrying.

The bank survives up to a height of c.1m above the interior of the enclosure
and is between 8m and 18m wide. The visible traces of the surrounding,
partially infilled ditch are up to 8m wide and 1.4m deep. Where no longer
visible at ground level the ditch survives as a buried feature. Traces of a
counterscarp bank are visible in the northern corner of the site although it
is believed to have originally encompassed the whole site.

The site was first noted in 1872 by a Mr Cowper after whom the site was known
as Cowper's Camp for some years. Partial excavations were undertaken in 1882
by a committee from Essex Field Club which included General Pitt-Rivers and
Worthington Smith, in 1926-27 by Hazzeldine Warren, and again in 1954, 1959
and 1971. These investigations revealed evidence of Mesolithic occupation at
the site as well as later prehistoric activity associated with the hillfort.
The more recent excavations in the 1950s and 1970s have concentrated on
earlier Mesolithic remains and large quantities of flint tools relating to
Mesolithic occupation of the area have been recovered in the vicinity of the

Excluded from the scheduling are all signs and posts although 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

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 earthwork ramparts and below ground features of Loughton camp slight
univallate hillfort survive well. Partial excavation has confirmed the date
and extent of surviving archaeological deposits and the survival of evidence
relating to the construction and use of the monument. The silts around the
internal spring have been shown to preserve environmental evidence which can
greatly add to our understanding of the landscape in which the monument was
constructed as well as preserving organic artefactual information which will
be of value in understanding the lifestyle of its inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hazzledine Warren, S, 'Essex Naturalist' in Report on Excavations at Loughton Camp, in Epping Forest, , Vol. XXII, (1930), 117-136
Pitt-Rivers, Gen et al, 'Transactions of the Essex Field Club' in Report on Loughton or Cowper's Camp, , Vol. III, (1884), 212-230
ECC, Essex Sites and Monuments Record 131, 132, (1984)

Source: Historic England

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