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Segsbury Camp or Letcombe Castle hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Letcombe Regis, Oxfordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5578 / 51°33'28"N

Longitude: -1.4461 / 1°26'46"W

OS Eastings: 438494.325738

OS Northings: 184468.88265

OS Grid: SU384844

Mapcode National: GBR 6YK.772

Mapcode Global: VHC17.W3CM

Entry Name: Segsbury Camp or Letcombe Castle hillfort

Scheduled Date: 9 May 1935

Last Amended: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017717

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28183

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Letcombe Regis

Traditional County: Berkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Details

The monument includes an Iron Age univallate hillfort known as Segsbury Camp,
or alternatively as Letcombe Castle. It lies on a chalk plateau which runs
east-west, roughly 20m north of the Ridgeway track, and has a commanding view
of the plains stretching below it to the north.
The monument includes a univallate rampart bank standing 3m above the interior
beyond which lies an external ditch approximately 20m wide and up to 7m deep.
Beyond this is a counter-scarp bank which would originally have extended as an
upstanding earthwork around the entire circuit. This is now only visible above
the present ground level for approximately 250m on the north west side of
the monument.
Part excavation in the 19th century demonstrated that the main rampart was
sarsen-faced like the Ridgeway hillforts at Uffington and Alfred's Castle.
The discovery of a burial cist on the south side of the rampart suggests that
the hillfort was reused in the Saxon period. Recent excavation has revealed
evidence of round houses, pits, tracks and other features previously
identified by geophysical survey.
Excluded from the scheduling are the tarmac surface of the road and all fences
and gate posts, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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

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.

Segsbury Camp survives well as an extant monument. Extensive geophysical
survey and limited excavation have demonstrated the survival of archaeological
and environmental evidence relating to its construction, occupation and the
landscape in which it was built, while leaving the majority of deposits
intact.
The monument is one of an important chain of hillforts associated with the
ancient Ridgeway track which would have been used to control movement along
this route in the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age periods. Evidence for the
re-occupation of the hillfort during the period following the end of Roman
rule will provide valuable information about the political and military
importance of the Ridgeway and its defensive prehistoric monuments during the
early medieval period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
PRN 7200, C.A.O., Letcombe Castle, (1996)

Source: Historic England

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