Ancient Monuments

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A slight univallate hillfort 600m south east of Home Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Foscott, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 52.0062 / 52°0'22"N

Longitude: -0.9463 / 0°56'46"W

OS Eastings: 472424.17156

OS Northings: 234716.498073

OS Grid: SP724347

Mapcode National: GBR BZ3.1LM

Mapcode Global: VHDT3.KT2Y

Entry Name: A slight univallate hillfort 600m south east of Home Farm

Scheduled Date: 4 February 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018453

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29420

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Foscott

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: North Buckingham

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes the buried and visible remains of a slight univallate
hillfort located on the northern side of the flood plain of the River Great
Ouse, some 2km to the east of Buckingham.

The hillfort occupies a low-lying position at the base of a gentle slope and
is nearly circular in plan, measuring approximately 200m in diameter. The
ramparts have long since been reduced by ploughing. They must however, have
remained clearly visible in the early 19th century as the (now dismantled)
Buckingham arm of the Grand Union Canal was built around the south eastern
part of the perimeter. Elsewhere, across the field to the north of the former
canal, the largely buried perimeter ditch remains visible as a broad
depression measuring some 10m-15m in width and 0.8m deep. The internal bank
can also be traced in places, either as a slight earthwork, or from scatters
of limestone rubble used in its construction. This tabular limestone occurs
locally at depths of between 1m-2m, and was doubtless derived from the ditch.
Cropmarks (variations in crop growth caused by buried features), reflecting
the layout of the defences have been recorded on several occasions since the
site was first photographed from the air in 1946. The position of the
entrance, however, has yet to be discovered.

In 1967 a socketed iron axe head was found on the ploughed surface within the
hillfort. It is thought to date from the Early or Middle Iron Age (600-100
BC), and is still one of only about 20 examples of this type of axe to have
been found in the British Isles.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes,
generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and
defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively
small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth -
fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to
their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have
generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places
of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a
rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access
to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple
gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation
indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate
features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few
examples. 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. Slight
univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally.
Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of
the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is
relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the
Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within
the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh
Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight
univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition
between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive
comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further
archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

The slight univallate hillfort 600m south east of Home Farm is notable for
its association with the discovery of an Iron Age socketed axe, and although
the site has been denuded by ploughing it will still retain significant and
valuable archaeological information.

The circuit of the ramparts is clearly marked and the perimeter ditch, in
particular, will remain well preserved beneath layers of accumulated and
dumped soil. Buried features related to the period of occupation will also
survive in the interior of the fort and these, together with the earlier fills
of the surrounding ditch, will contain artefactual evidence illustrating the
date of the hillfort's construction as well as the duration and character of
its use. Environmental evidence reflecting the appearance of the landscape in
which the monument was set may also survive in these deposits, as well as on
areas of old land surface sealed beneath surviving sections of the bank.

The fort's location in a low-lying area rather than on a summit or ridge is
somewhat unusual, although far from unique in the region. Comparisons between
this site and similar examples near Padbury to the south and Dunstable to the
south east will provide valuable information concerning the function of these
low-lying sites, especially in relation to the more strongly defended
hillforts which proliferated along the adjacent Chiltern Hills in the later
prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Manning, W H, Saunders, C, 'Antiquaries Journal' in A Socketed Iron Axe from Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire, , Vol. 52. 2, (1972), 276-85
Conversation with landowner, Pullin, J, Limestone outcrops in the vicinity of Home Farm, Maids Moreton, (1997)
Mention of A.Rivet's interest in site, Green, C W, Letter to Mr Gowling (Bucks Museum Curator), (1961)
Oblique monochrome, Farley, M, A 14/7/4, (1990)
Oblique monochrome, Farley, M, A 14/7/7, (1990)
Oblique monochrome, Foard, G, 2483/25, (1984)
References to Foscott villa, SMR: 0773,
SMR entry No.2837, Grand Union Canal (Buckingham arm),
Vertical (copy in Bucks SMR), RAF, Print 4320, run 21., (1946)
Went, D, Foscott Roman villa: MPP Alternative Action Report., (1998)

Source: Historic England

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