Ancient Monuments

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Telegraph Woods beacon, 170m north of Fir Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in West End, Hampshire

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Latitude: 50.921 / 50°55'15"N

Longitude: -1.3315 / 1°19'53"W

OS Eastings: 447086.329577

OS Northings: 113716.60419

OS Grid: SU470137

Mapcode National: GBR 87S.07L

Mapcode Global: FRA 863N.T9R

Entry Name: Telegraph Woods beacon, 170m north of Fir Cottage

Scheduled Date: 10 June 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017893

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31157

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: West End

Built-Up Area: Southampton

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: West End St James

Church of England Diocese: Winchester


The monument includes an Armada beacon dating from at least 1595, situated on
flat land at the highest point of a gravel plateau known as Moorhill or
Telegraph Hill, overlooking lower lying land to the west, north and east. It
comprises a low mound, approximately 0.1m high and 6m in diameter, lying at
the centre of a flat area surrounded by a shallow circular ditch and low inner
bank, approximately 31m in diameter. The bank rises about 0.6m above the base
of the ditch and 0.3m above the interior of the beacon. The monument has been
disturbed in places by tree roots and by erosion along the ditch edges. The
beacon is mentioned in John Norden's map of 1595.

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
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
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 at Telegraph Woods survives well as a rarely preserved example of
this type of monument and is likely to retain archaeological remains and
environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it
was constructed.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
White, H T, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club' in The Beacon System in Hampshire, , Vol. Vol 10, (1930), 271

Source: Historic England

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