Ancient Monuments

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Balksbury hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Andover, Hampshire

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Latitude: 51.1983 / 51°11'53"N

Longitude: -1.4998 / 1°29'59"W

OS Eastings: 435048.758905

OS Northings: 144457.295511

OS Grid: SU350444

Mapcode National: GBR 72Q.ZJY

Mapcode Global: VHC2Y.Y4HR

Entry Name: Balksbury hillfort

Scheduled Date: 16 January 1998

Last Amended: 14 June 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018562

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31211

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: Andover

Built-Up Area: Andover

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Upper Clatford All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Winchester


The monument includes the surviving south western end of a large univallate
hillfort, dating from the Late Bronze Age (about 1100-900 BC) and occupied
until the Late Roman period (about AD 400), situated on a low chalk spur
overlooking the junction of the Rivers Anton and Anna (Pilhill Brook) in the
southern outskirts of Andover.
The original extent of the north east-south west aligned, roughly triangular
hillfort, about three quarters of which has now been destroyed by the
construction of the Andover Bypass and a major housing development, formerly
encompassed the summit of the spur and covered an area of about 18ha.
Extensive archaeological excavation of the interior and sections of the
defences was undertaken in several phases between the early 1970s and the late
1990s. These, and earlier investigations of 1939 and 1967, revealed that the
enclosure was defined by a single, timber revetted bank, approximately 2m high
and 6m wide, and a surrounding steep-sided ditch, about 5m wide and 3m deep.
Access to the interior was by way of a single, gated entrance in the south
east, reached by a causeway across the ditch. Analysis of carbon samples and
pottery fragments recovered during the 1970s and 1980s suggest that the
defences were constructed in at least three phases during the Late Bronze Age
and Early Iron Age (1100-900BC), and that the enclosure remained in use until
the Late Roman period, up to at least 400AD. The excavations also revealed
evidence for intensive occupation of the interior throughout its period of
use, in the form of the remains of houses and other wooden structures, pits,
hearths, burials of Late Bronze Age and Roman date, and a range of artefacts
including pottery and animal bone.
The surviving, south western section of the enclosure has been partly
disturbed by modern ploughing, the construction of the now disused Balksbury
Road and the erection of fences, gates and surface structures, although
remains of the southern circuit of the defences and further buried remains
connected with the original use of the hillfort, will survive.
All modern structures, fences, gates and road surfaces 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.
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.

The southernmost portion of Balksbury hillfort survives well, despite some
later disturbance, and will contain further archaeological remains and
environmental evidence relating to the construction and use of the monument.
Around 1km to the south west is the roughly contemporary hillfort at Bury Hill
and the close association of these monuments will provide evidence for
settlement in this region during the Late Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman
periods, and information about the landscape in which they were constructed.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hawkes, J, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club Archaeol. Society' in The Excavations at Balksbury, 1939, , Vol. 14, (1940), 291-337
Wainwright, G J, Davies, S M, 'English Heritage Archaeological Report' in Balksbury Camp, Hampshire: Excavations 1973 and 1981, , Vol. 4, (1995)
Wainwright, G J, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club Archaeol. Society' in The Excavation of Balksbury Camp, Andover, Hants, , Vol. 26, (1969), 21-55
Wessex Archaeology, Balksbury Camp, Andover, Hants: Assess. Rep. of the 1995-96 exc., (1996)
Wessex Archaeology, Balksbury Camp, Andover, Hants: Assess. Rep. of the 1997 excav., (1997)

Source: Historic England

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