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Historic England Research Records

Uffington Castle

Hob Uid: 225401
Location :
Oxfordshire
Vale of White Horse
Uffington
Grid Ref : SU2994586326
Summary : The univallate Iron Age hillfort known as Uffington Castle. It is D-shaped, enclosing 3 hectares, with a rampart and ditch, counterscarp bank, and a single western entrance. Limited excavation in 1853-8 and in 1922, indicated that the inner bank appeared to be sarsen faced, and two rows of postholes suggest either a timber palisade or posts were incorporated in the facing. Excavations in 1989-90 identified two phases of rampart construction, the earliest, early Iron Age in date, comprising box rampart with a backing ditch. A blocked entrance was identified in the eastern rampart, and dated to the 8th to 7th centuries BC. It would have had a gatehouse, and the large post pits belonging to this structure were identified. This phase was succeeded, on almost the same alignment and after a period of abandonment, by a dump rampart with a large V-shaped ditch. A parapet wall was also present. Breaches in the ramparts on the northeast and southeast sides appear to be Roman in date. Geophysical surveys of the interior indicated the site was probably not densely occupied or long-lived. Possible posthole structures were located in the southwest corner of the hillfort but remain unexcavated. Other magnetic responses are thought to originate from the remains of post-medieval fairs. Excavations of further interior features (pits, gullies, and postholes) in 1994-5, identified late Bronze Age activity (8th century BC), but in the main the features were of early Iron Age date (7th century BC), with some middle Iron Age activity (4th century BC). Roman features included an oven or corn drier. During the Anglo-Saxon period the hillfort acted as a boundary marker for the Uffington and Woolstone estates. Some more ephemeral features in the interior may have been lost due to medieval and later ploughing, evidenced by ridge and furrow earthworks. It was cultivated as recently as 1956 until the Ministry of Works re-established grassland. The site is in the care of English Heritage.
More information : [Centred SU 29968633] Uffington Castle [T.I.] HILL
FORT [G.T.]. (1)

Uffington Castle, on White Horse Hill, is a univallate, Iron Age A hill-fort of circa 8 acres, with a counterscarp bank. There is a single entrance facing northwest [on O.S. 6" it faces due west] with the inner-rampart turning outwards to flank the causeway, and apparently then turning back round the ditch-ends to join the counterscarp bank.
Limited excavation by E.Martin-Atkins about 1850 showed that the inner bank appeared to be sarsen faced, and two rows of post-holes discovered suggest either a timber palisade or posts incorporated in the sarsen facing. (2-5)

Uffington Castle is as described with the only original entrance facing west.
Surveyed at 1/2500. (6)

SU 300863: An area of rampart which had been breached was investigated in 1989-90. Documentary evidence shows that the breach, together with one on the SE side was present in the ninth century AD. Roman pottery was recovered from layers above the breach. The rampart was a box rampart with a backing bank. This was succeeded by a dump rampart with a large V-shaped ditch. A parapet wall was also present. An early Iron Age date for the initial construction of the hillfort has been indicated. A geophysical survey of the interior also took place, the results indicated the site was not densely occupied, and probably not long-lived. (7-8)

SU 299 863. Uffington Castle. Listed in gazetteer as a univallate hillfort covering 3.4ha. (9)

Uffington Castle. Description with plan. Woolston Castle mentioned as former alternative name. (10)

Sherd of early Iron Age `A' ware from Uffington Castle presented by Patrick Grary to Ashmolean Museum. (11)

Inward curve of defences at Eastern end, together with heightening of counterscarp bank in this area, suggestive of the presence of a former eastern entrance, later blocked. (12)

Counterscarp bank on West side of main entrance much better developed than that to East of it. No mention of possible eastern entrance. (13)

Excavation and documentary research have shown that breaches in the ramparts on NE and SE sides are at least Roman in date. (14)

Recently surveyed topographically in detail, with geophysical investigation by Ancient Monuments Laboratory, but final results still awaited. (15)

Record card. (16)

The earthwork remains of the Iron Age hill-fort described by the previous authorities was mapped from aerial photographs as part of the Lambourn Downs NMP Project. Within the ramparts of the castle are the faint earthwork remains of cultivation marks of unknown date. (17)

British Archaeology news article. Excavations near the Uffington White Horse, led by Oxford University archaeologists Gary Lock and Chris Gosden, have shown that different hillforts were put to different uses, despite their similar appearance. Uffington Castle was built on a site with ancient sacred associations. Iron Age use of the hillfort was intermittent, but there was a concentrated re-use of the site in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries AD. Coins, pottery, animal bones, and a small oven were found inside the fort; an enclosure with burials was built outside the entrance, and the long barrow was re-used for burial. The impression, according to Dr Lock, is of 'a temple or shrine', where eating, drinking and ceremonial activities took place. (18)

It is D-shaped, enclosing 3 hectares, with a rampart and ditch, counterscarp bank, and a single western entrance. A blocked entrance was identified in the eastern rampart, and dated to the 8th to 7th centuries BC. It would have had a gatehouse, and the large post pits belonging to this structure were identified. This phase was succeeded, on almost the same alignment and after a period of abandonment, by a dump rampart with a large V-shaped ditch.
Possible posthole structures were located in the southwest corner of the hillfort but remain unexcavated. Other magnetic responses are thought to originate from the remains of post-medieval fairs. Excavations of further interior features (pits, gullies, and postholes) in 1994-5, identified late Bronze Age activity (8th century BC), but in the main the features were of early Iron Age date (7th century BC), with some middle Iron Age activity (4th century BC). Roman features included an oven or corn drier. During the Anglo-Saxon period the hillfort acted as a boundary marker for the Uffington and Woolstone estates. Some more ephemeral features in the interior may have been lost due to medieval and later ploughing, evidenced by ridge and furrow earthworks. It was cultivated as recently as 1956 until the Ministry of Works re-established grassland. (19)

A brief history and description. It consists of a large enclosure measuring about 220 metres by 160 metres, surrounded by a chalk-stone bank or inner rampart, about 12 metres in width and 2.5 metres in height. Around this is a grass covered ditch about 3 metres deep, and a further smaller bank forming an outer rampart. (20)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1960
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : The Berkshire archaeological journal
Source details : (Mrs. M. Cotton)
Page(s) : 48
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 60, 1962
Source Number : 11
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Ashmolean Museum Report, 1960
Page(s) : 20
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : Oxoniensia
Source details : (O'Connor, Starstin)
Page(s) : 325
Figs. :
Plates : XIIA
Vol(s) : 40, 1975
Source Number : 13
Source : Hillforts of the Iron Age in England and Wales : a survey of the surface evidence
Source details :
Page(s) : 234
Figs. :
Plates : 52
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 14
Source : Oxfordshire Archaeological Unit : newsletter
Source details :
Page(s) : 20
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1990
Source Number : 15
Source : Oxfordshire Archaeological Unit : newsletter
Source details :
Page(s) : 01-Mar
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 17, 1989
Source Number : 16
Source : SU 28 NE 6 (Uffington Castle) (1964)
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 17
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 540/958/4295 01-DEC-1952
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 18
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Council for British Archaeology. Issue no 31, February 1998. 'News' <> [Accessed 19-JAN-2011]
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 19
Source : Uffington White Horse and its landscape
Source details : 'Chapter 6: The Hillfort', by G Lock, D Miles, S Palmer, and A M Cromarty, Thames Valley Landscapes Monograph No. 18
Page(s) : 79-126
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 20
Source : Heritage Unlocked: London and the South East
Source details :
Page(s) : 110
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Antiquity
Source details : (Hawkes)
Page(s) : 71-2
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 5, 1931
Source Number : 4
Source : A guide to prehistoric England
Source details : (N. Thomas)
Page(s) : 43
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Source Number : 5
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : St.Joseph A.Ps., AO/19, N/27, AO/18
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 JP 10-FEB-64
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : Council for British Archaeology Group 9: South Midlands archaeology newsletter
Source details : (S Palmer)
Page(s) : 78-80
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 20, 1990
Source Number : 8
Source : Council for British Archaeology Group 9: South Midlands archaeology newsletter
Source details : (S Palmer)
Page(s) : 96-97
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 21, 1991
Source Number : 9
Source : British Hillforts: an index
Source details :
Page(s) : 209
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 62
Source Number : 10
Source : The Victoria history of Berkshire, volume one
Source details :
Page(s) : 262
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Late Bronze Age
Display Date : Late Bronze Age
Monument End Date : -700
Monument Start Date : -900
Monument Type : Linear Feature, Pit, Post Hole
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Early Iron Age
Display Date : Early Iron Age
Monument End Date : -400
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Univallate Hillfort, Pit, Post Hole
Evidence : Earthwork, Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Findspot, Pit, Post Hole, Corn Drying Oven
Evidence : Stratified Find
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Early Medieval
Monument End Date : 1066
Monument Start Date : 410
Monument Type : Boundary
Evidence : Earthwork, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Medieval
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Ridge And Furrow
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Post Medieval
Monument End Date : 1901
Monument Start Date : 1540
Monument Type : Fair, Ridge And Furrow
Evidence : Earthwork, Documentary Evidence, Sub Surface Deposit

Components and Objects:
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Findspot, Pit, Post Hole, Corn Drying Oven
Object Type : VESSEL
Object Material : Pottery

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : OX 210
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 21778
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : NMR 4502/28
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 226
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : CC97/02492
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : CC97/02493
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : CC97/02630
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : HT08097
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : 4502/28
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : HT08099
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SU 28 NE 6
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 229205
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 229208
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, WHITE HORSE HILL
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1857-01-01
End Date : 1858-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, UFFINGTON CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1858-01-01
End Date : 1858-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SU 28 NE 6
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1964-02-10
End Date : 1964-02-10
Associated Activities : Primary, UFFINGTON CASTLE, WHITE HORSE HILL
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, UFFINGTON CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1989-01-01
End Date : 1989-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, WHITE HORSE HILL
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1989-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, UFFINGTON CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, WHITE HORSE HILL
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, WHITE HORSE HILL, UFFINGTON
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, WHITE HORSE HILL
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, UFFINGTON CASTLE, WHITE HORSE HILL
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, UFFINGTON WHITE HORSE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, UFFINGTON CASTLE, WHITEHORSE HILL
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, UFFINGTON CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, WHITE HORSE HILL
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: LAMBOURN DOWNS NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, WHITE HORSE HILL
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31