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Hillfort, oval barrow, round barrows, field systems and earthwork enclosure on Old Winchester Hill

A Scheduled Monument in West Meon, Hampshire

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Latitude: 50.9804 / 50°58'49"N

Longitude: -1.0883 / 1°5'18"W

OS Eastings: 464094.474811

OS Northings: 120504.255327

OS Grid: SU640205

Mapcode National: GBR B9Z.FN4

Mapcode Global: FRA 86LJ.CSF

Entry Name: Hillfort, oval barrow, round barrows, field systems and earthwork enclosure on Old Winchester Hill

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Last Amended: 18 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017899

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31159

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: West Meon

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Meonstoke with Corhampton

Church of England Diocese: Portsmouth


The monument includes a large univallate hillfort, probably of Early Iron Age
date, a Neolithic oval or long barrow, 11 Bronze Age round barrows, a possible
pond barrow, a series of Celtic fields and associated trackways, a series of
medieval or post-medieval plough furrows and banks and a suggested earthwork
enclosure of unknown date. The hillfort is situated on a prominent, steep
sided chalk spur, capped in places by clay-with-flints, which forms the
westernmost extension of the Hampshire North Downs chalk escarpment. It
commands extensive views in all directions.
The defences of the hillfort completely enclose the spur, forming a roughly
east-west aligned sub-trapezoidal interior area of about 4ha. They are of a
relatively simple design, suggesting an Early Iron Age date, c.550-400 BC. The
ramparts are most substantial adjacent to the two original entrances at the
south east and west ends of the hillfort where they rise to about 3m above the
interior and up to 10m above an exterior ditch and counterscarp bank.
Elsewhere they stand between 0.5m and 1.5m above the interior and about 6m
above the ditch bottom. A pronounced quarry scoop runs inside and parallel to
the ramparts. The external ditch is shallow and flat-bottomed, 2m-8m wide and
up to 1.8m deep on all sides except the north east where it is replaced by a
7m-12m wide ledge. The counterscarp bank, also absent to the north east, is
3m-16m wide and stands to an external height of about 2m.
The ramparts are inturned at both entrances. The south east entrance survives
as a 7m wide gap through the ramparts, flanked on the northern side by a low
flint wall and strengthened by an external hornwork. The west entrance is
simpler but appears to make use of the adjacent round barrows as an additional
element in its defence.
The main use of the interior of the hillfort is represented by the slight
surface remains of approximately 70 depressions and associated pits believed
to represent hut platforms. The remains of a Celtic field system survives to
the west as a regular arrangement of slight scarps enclosing small rectangular
fields with associated small flint clearance mounds.
Further remains of Celtic fields and associated trackways are visible outside
the defences on the south slope of the hillfort within the southern projection
of the area of protection. At least two lynchets survive as slight banks
runnng parallel to the ramparts about 25m and 50m below the counterscarp bank
to the east. Two parallel double lynchet trackways extend across the base of
the slope, both 7m-8m wide. The lower trackway is most substantial where it is
preserved beneath a yew plantation to the west. It intersects with a third
trackway which extends outside the area of protection to the south west as a
public path known as Mile End Lane.
The earlier use of the monument is represented by a suggested earthwork
enclosure, three groups of barrows and by Mesolithic and Neolithic flintwork
recorded immediately east of the monument. The enclosure is indicated by the
infilled remains of a ditch across the interior of the hillfort at the eastern
end, partly truncated by a later dewpond. The ditch may pass beneath the
ramparts and turn to the north east where a ledge, 2m-7m wide, extends along
the slope of the spur.
A group of three substantial Bronze Age bowl barrows and a postulated pond
barrow are arranged within the interior of the hillfort along the central
spine of the spur. The largest, to the west, comprises a central mound 2m high
and 26m across, surrounded by a ditch, 3m-5m wide and 0.5m deep. The second
lies 12m to the east and comprises a central mound, 2m high and 18m across,
enclosed by an infilled ditch, 0.3m deep and 2m wide. The mound has a slight
depression in the centre indicative of past excavation. The third barrow, 13m
further east, comprises a central mound, 1.5m high and 17m across, enclosed by
an infilled ditch, 2m-4m wide and up to 0.3m deep. The mound has a hollow
centre and appears lowered and spread. The pond barrow comprises a circular
depression, 1.5m deep and 13m across, surrounded by a slight bank, 0.2m high
and 3m-4m wide.
A Neolithic oval or long barrow and a Bronze Age round barrow cemetery lie as
a group outside the hillfort abutting and partly underlying the western
ramparts. All are below the crest of a slight slope. The Neolithic barrow is
the northernmost of the group. It comprises a pear-shaped mound, approximately
1.2m high, and approximately 25m long by 12m wide, enclosed on all sides
except the north by an infilled ditch, 1m-2m wide and about 0.2m deep. The
first (most northerly) of the round barrows comprises a heavily lowered and
spread bowl barrow, about 0.3m high and 14m across, enclosed within an
infilled ditch, about 0.15m deep. The second comprises a lowered bowl barrow
with a hollow centre, about 1.2m high and 17m across, enclosed on all sides
except the west by an infilled ditch approximately 0.3m deep. Both of these
barrows truncate a linear earthwork feature which underlies the hillfort's
counterscarp bank. The second barrow partly underlies the third, a possible
saucer barrow which comprises a central mound, at least 0.5m high, and 15m
across, with a narrow berm on the northern side.
It is enclosed on the west, north, and north east sides by a ditch,
approximately 0.3m deep and 3m wide, and an outer bank, 0.2m high and 5m wide,
which partly underlie the counterscarp bank of the hillfort and the most
northerly mound of a twin barrow to the south. This fourth barrow comprises
two low mounds, each about 0.5m high and 10m in diameter, occupying the full
width of an oval platform enclosed on the east and west sides by a ditch,
about 3m wide and 0.3m deep. Each of the mounds has a slight hollow in the
centre and the eastern ditch is slightly encroached upon by the counterscarp
bank of the hillfort. A fifth barrow lies about 10m west of this group. It is
a bowl barrow comprising a low central mound, about 0.4m high and 14m across,
surrounded by an infilled ditch, approximately 0.3m deep and 2m wide, which
is barely perceptible on the western side. All of the barrows appear lowered
and spread by ploughing and each is damaged by burrowing and associated
A third group or alignment includes at least three Bronze Age bowl barrows
protruding in a false-crest sighted position from the southern couterscarp
bank of the hillfort. The most westerly of these comprises a semi-circular
mound, about 0.7m high and 19m across. The second, 30m further east, comprises
a semicircular mound, about 0.6m high and 22m across. The third, 40m further
east, is a low mound about 0.3m high and 11m across. At least two further
possible bowl barrows protrude from the southern counterscarp bank to the
west. All are reduced by later ploughing. A saucer barrow previously recorded
on the same alignment immediately outside the south east corner of the
hillfort's ramparts has now been levelled without trace by ploughing, as has
a bowl barrow previously located beside it to the north east.
The later use of the monument is represented by Roman finds recorded within
the interior of the hillfort and by the remains of medieval or post-medieval
ploughing which survive within the hillfort as narrow furrows spaced 15m
apart. Further shallow furrows, 0.1m deep and spaced 10m apart, extend within
the protected area down the south slope of the hillfort where they overlie the
Celtic lynchets and trackways and encroach onto the hillfort's counterscarp.
Some furrows are overlain by later banks, 0.3m high, which may extend across
the ramparts into the hillfort interior and align with a parish boundary bank
that crosses the hillfort from east to west. Recent military use of the
monument is represented by several sharply cut holes along the crest of the
ramparts and within the interior and by circular areas of phosphorous
contamination in the field to the east.
An orientation plinth, a triangulation point and all benches, posts and water
troughs and associated fencing, gates, stiles and signs are excluded from the
scheduling 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

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.

The large univallate hillfort and associated oval barrow, round barrows, field
systems and earthwork enclosure on Old Winchester Hill survive well and will
retain archaeological remains and environmental evidence. The close
association of these features and related finds gives a detailed insight into
the near continuous use of this hilltop from the early prehistoric to post-
medieval periods.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Schadla-Hall, R T, Winchester District, the Archaeological Potential, (1977), 24 88-9
Williams-Freeman, JP, Introduction to field archaeology as illustrated by Hampshire, (1915), 270 391
Hall, L, 'EM 138. Landscapes of Prehistory' in An Archaeological Trail for Old Winchester Hill, (1996)
RCHME, A New Earthwork Survey of Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire, (1995)
RCHME, A New Earthwork Survey of Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire, (1995)
RCHME, A New Earthwork Survey of Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire, (1995)
RCHME, A New Earthwork Survey of Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire, (1995)
RCHME, A New Earthwork Survey of Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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