Ancient Monuments

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Beacon mound on Beacon Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Morden, Dorset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.7573 / 50°45'26"N

Longitude: -2.1295 / 2°7'46"W

OS Eastings: 390963.016601

OS Northings: 95310.554071

OS Grid: SY909953

Mapcode National: GBR 20P.GFF

Mapcode Global: FRA 67F2.N7J

Entry Name: Beacon mound on Beacon Hill

Scheduled Date: 23 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016280

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29067

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Morden

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Morden St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

Details

The monument includes a beacon mound on Beacon Hill, a prominent natural knoll
of the Winterborne Valley, offering panoramic views.
The beacon, which is recorded on Isaac Taylor's map of 1773, has a mound
composed of clay, marl and turf, with maximum dimensions of 18m in diameter
and approximately 1.5m in height. The mound has steep sides and a flat top
which also supports a former military slit trench approximately 1m wide.
The mound is surrounded by a ditch from which material was quarried during
the construction of the monument. The ditch has become infilled over the
years, but will survive as a buried feature approximately 1.5m wide.

MAP EXTRACT
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

Beacons were fires deliberately lit to give a warning, by means of smoke by
day and flame by night, of the approach of hostile forces. They were always
sited in prominent positions, usually as part of a group, chain or line which
together made up a comprehensive early warning system covering most of the
country.
Beacons were extensively used during the medieval period. Their use was
formalised by 1325 and although some were used later, for example at the time
of Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685 or during the Napoleonic wars, the system was
in decay by the mid-17th century.
Beacons were initially bonfires of wood or furze, but later barrels of pitch
or iron fire baskets mounted on poles were used. The poles were occasionally
set on earthen mounds. Access to the fire basket was by way of rungs set in
the pole, or by a stone ladder set against the beacon. More unusual beacon
types include stone enclosures and towers, mainly found in the north and south
west of England. Some beacon sites utilised existing buildings such as church
towers.
Beacons were built throughout England, with the greatest density along the
south coast and the border with Scotland. Although approximately 500 are
recorded nationally, few survive in the form of visible remains. Many sites
are only known from place-name evidence. Given the rarity of recorded
examples, all positively identified beacons with significant surviving
archaeological remains are considered to be of national importance.

The beacon mound on Beacon Hill survives well and will contain archaeological
and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which
it was constructed. The monument represents a rare example of its class and is
one of few such sites known to have included an artificial mound.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 482
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 482

Source: Historic England

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