Ancient Monuments

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Hillfort on Banbury Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Sturminster Newton, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.9065 / 50°54'23"N

Longitude: -2.3002 / 2°18'0"W

OS Eastings: 378984.645981

OS Northings: 111932.589528

OS Grid: ST789119

Mapcode National: GBR 0XD.186

Mapcode Global: FRA 662Q.1P3

Entry Name: Hillfort on Banbury Hill

Scheduled Date: 14 July 1933

Last Amended: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018873

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31063

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Sturminster Newton

Built-Up Area: Broad Oak

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Okeford Fitzpaine St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a univallate hillfort on the summit of a low but locally
prominent hill 850m north east of Common Farm.
The hillfort has a bank, 15m wide and 0.5m high above the interior, with an
external ditch, 8m wide and up to 1.5m deep, enclosing a roughly circular area
of approximately 1.2 ha. In places, on the northern and southern sides, the
bank has been denuded and is no more than a scarp 1m high. The ditch is no
longer visible on the surface along part of the circumference, particularly on
the eastern side, but will survive as a buried feature. The entrance, on the
western side, is protected by an external bank, 15m wide and 1m high, with
traces of an external ditch. This branches out from the main rampart at the
north western corner of the hillfort, running south west for a short length
before curving back in towards the hillfort enclosure, creating a passage
which narrows down to about 2m at one point. In 1986 the excavation of a
trench for a water pipe was observed across the earthwork to the north of the
entrance gap and across the outer bank on the western side. The rampart was
found to be constructed of local limestone and occasional flint/chert
fragments, 2.5m wide at the base, with a thick accumulation of gravels on the
outer face, suggesting that the bank generally has been spread by ploughing.
All fence and gate posts, and the water trough with feeder pipe 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.

Despite having been disturbed in the past by ploughing, the hillfort on
Banbury Hill, is a comparatively well preserved example of its class and will
contain archaeological deposits providing information about Iron Age society,
economy and environment.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Soc' in Observations at Banbury Hill Camp, Okeford Fitzpaine, , Vol. 108, (1986), 175-177

Source: Historic England

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