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Hardwell Camp promontory fort

A Scheduled Monument in Compton Beauchamp, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.5787 / 51°34'43"N

Longitude: -1.5865 / 1°35'11"W

OS Eastings: 428752.567844

OS Northings: 186729.19618

OS Grid: SU287867

Mapcode National: GBR 5WN.V13

Mapcode Global: VHC0Z.GL54

Entry Name: Hardwell Camp promontory fort

Scheduled Date: 18 August 1958

Last Amended: 4 March 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017820

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28167

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Compton Beauchamp

Traditional County: Berkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Compton Beauchamp

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a hillfort known as Hardwell Camp, situated at the head
of several small valleys on a north facing promontory overlooking the Vale of
the White Horse from the edge of the Downs. It lies c.1km north west of
Uffington Castle hillfort and the White Horse and c.1km north east of
Wayland's Smithy Neolithic chambered tomb.
The promontory fort was built using a combination of rampart banks, ditches
and enhanced natural features to enclose an area roughly 200m square with two
enclosed spurs extending to the north.
The main rampart runs along the top edge of the valleys which lie immediately
east and west of the hillfort. It is built of stone rubble and turf and
measures c.10m wide, standing between 0.5m and 1.5m high above the interior.
The rampart runs east-west across the relatively level ground to the south
where it is interrupted by an original entrance. This open side is further
protected by a 16m wide ditch and a second outer bank of similar proportions
to the first.
The north side of the monument is defined by the top end of the cutting which
contains the track. Here, a slight internal rampart marks the edge of the
contour. However, below this two projecting spurs, formed by the two valleys
and separated by the cutting, have slight lipped ramparts along their top
edges to enhance their defensive use. They would also have provided views
across much of the vale below.
The inner slopes of the valleys either side of the monument have been
landscaped to enhance the defensive nature of the site and form an integral
part of its design and functional effectiveness.
There are believed to have been two original entrances, one to the south which
allowed access to the Ridgeway just under 1km to the south, and the other, to
the north, which ran down a steep and formidable cutting to allow access to
the Plain below.
Excluded from the scheduling are all post and wire fences, pheasant shelters
and other associated sheds and structures, although the ground beneath these
features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Promontory forts are a type of hillfort in which conspicuous naturally
defended sites are adapted as enclosures by the construction of one or more
earth or stone ramparts placed across the neck of a spur in order to divide it
from the surrounding land. Coastal situations, using headlands defined by
steep natural cliffs, are common while inland similar topographic settings
defined by natural cliffs are also used. The ramparts and accompanying ditches
formed the main artificial defence, but timber palisades may have been erected
along the cliff edges. Access to the interior was generally provided by an
entrance through the ramparts. The interior of the fort was used intensively
for settlement and related activities, and evidence for timber- and stone-
walled round houses can be expected, together with the remains of buildings
used for storage and enclosures for animals. Promontory forts are generally
Iron Age in date, most having been constructed and used between the sixth
century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are broadly contemporary with
other types of hillfort. They are regarded as settlements of high status,
probably occupied on a permanent basis, and recent interpretations suggest
that their construction and choice of location had as much to do with display
as defence. Promontory forts are rare nationally with less than 100 recorded
examples. In view of their rarity and their importance in the understanding of
the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period, all
examples with surviving archaeological remains are considered nationally

The promontory fort at Hardwell Camp combines elements of contour forts
and other techniques to produce what is a carefully planned defensive
structure. This makes it unusual in comparison to many of the other hillforts
along the Ridgeway which almost exclusively use artificial defences alone and
which often lie on unlikely defensive sites. Hardwell Camp survives well and
will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its
construction, function and the landscape in which it was built.
Its close proximity to the important group of monuments at White Horse Hill
may also provide evidence of wider landscape divisions during the Iron Age

Source: Historic England



Source: Historic England

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