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Historic England Research Records

Beacon Hill

Hob Uid: 232559
Location :
Hampshire
Basingstoke And Deane
Burghclere
Grid Ref : SU4585057270
Summary : A prehistoric hillfort, probably of Iron Age date. The site was surveyed by RCHME in June 1978. The defences comprise a single ditch between two banks which, for much of their circuit, follow the shoulder of the hill. A single entrance exists on the south east side, and is flanked by parallel banks on each side, and accompanied by outer hornworks. A second entrance, now blocked, may have existed on the west side. The interior remains are generally slight, and comprise traces of about 30 hut circles, a similar number of platforms (not necessarily for buildings), and about 60 pits. Other features include a few low mounds, none recognizable as barrows, plus various unclassifiable banks and ditches. Two short, irregular stretches of bank and ditch on the highest part of the hill appear to predate the hillfort earthworks. If linked, they would have enclosed an area of less than 1.2 hectares. Their date is unknown, although it has been suggested that they may represent traces of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure. Material recovered from the surface in the hillfort interior during the survey included Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age potsherds. The tomb of the 5th Earl of Caernarvon stands on a platform in the south west corner of the hillfort. A feature in the south east corner can be plausibly interpreted as a pillow mound. Excavations in the hillfort in 1912 by Leonard Woolley seemed to confirm the identification of some of the interior features as hut circles. Pot sherds recovered by him were generally described as Bronze Age. One depression contained pottery and bottles of Medieval and later date and was presumably associated with the beacon (SU 45 NE 35).
More information : (SU 45855727) Camp British Huts (NR). (1)

Beacon Hill: a fine contour fort with rampart, ditch and
counterscarp extremely well preserved. On the S.E. there is an
inturned entrance with a single low tranverse on the outside.

Scattered irregularly about the interior are a number of small
depressions about 9' in diameter with the interiors raised
above the general ground level and the circumference marked by
shallow ditches. Excavation of one of the larger rings revealed
a level floor and evidence of collapsed flint walling; a
fragment of black B.A. pottery was the only find.

Woolley also excavated three of the small depressions. The
first was 9' in diameter and 7'4" in depth; the sides were
irregular but the floor was flat and smooth. The infilling of
chalk and soil contained much burnt wood and charcoal, animal
bones, and a quantity of sherds of "typical B.A.
pottery.... two fragments being from a large well-made vessel
with nearly vertical sides of similar type to burial urns".

The second depression produced similar results although there
was much less pottery and charcoal, but the third close to the
highest point of the hill, was found to have been the site of a
shelter for the men who tended a beacon (SU 45 NE 35) here in
Medieval and late times. It was equipped with a brick fireplace
and from the infilling came greenglazed pottery and sack
bottles. (2-3)

Recent air photographs show indications of an earlier
earthwork, either Early Iron Age or Neolithic. (4)

Photographs show the outer works at the SE entrance to be an
addition for they impinge on the original defences (No mention
of an earlier work.) (5)

Beacon Hill; an extremely well preserved contour fort,
untouched except for a later elaboration of the S.E. entrance.
Within the enclosed area are some 15 contemporary hut sites
comprising horseshoe - shape scoops and circular enclosures up
to 15.0m in diameter with banks up to 0.4m in height and faint
traces of an outer ditch.

An E or SE entrance gap is clearly visible on some. Some of the
smaller storage/rubbish pits, up to 4.0m in diameter, are also
visible.

Grinsell's reference to an earlier work here almost certainly
applies to the fragmentary remains of inner work, possibly a
Neolithic interrupted ditch system, clearly visible on RAF
photographs (b) and still traceable on the ground as broad,
shallow interrupted ditches with the inner face the dominant
feature. On the N they terminate on (and were probably
destroyed by) the hillfort quarry ditches, the same is probably
true of the S. side although there seems to be an original gap
at the SW corner.

Complex re-surveyed at 1:2500. (6)

Within the internal area of Beacon Hill camp are remains of
about 20 hut-circles.

At Beacon Hill the looping of the substantial counterscarp bank
on to the main rampart produces a passage between flanking
banks which is further prolonged by the inturned ramparts.
There are also symmetrical hornworks springing from the
counterscarp bank on either side of the entrance. The bank and
ditch forming the hornworks end about 9.0m in front of the main
defences. (7)

The Neolithic enclosure here is listed as a suspect or
uncharacteristic interrupted ditch enclosure.

The two short lengths of bank and ditch within the hillfort
ramparts may suggest a possible causewayed enclosure. (8)

SU 458 572. Beacon Hill, Hants. Listed in gazetteer as a univallate hillfort covering 4.4ha. (9)

Beacon Hill was surveyed by staff of RCHME during June 1978. The defences comprise a single ditch between two banks which, for much of their circuit, follow the shoulder of the hill. A single entrance exists on the south east side, and is flanked by parallel banks on each side, and accompanied by outer hornworks. A second entrance, now blocked, may have existed on the west side. The interior remains are generally slight, and comprise traces of about 30 hut circles, a similar number of platforms (not necessarily for buildings), and about 60 pits. Other features include a few low mounds, none recognizable as barrows, plus various unclassifiable banks and ditches.

Two short, irregular stretches of bank and ditch on the highest part of the hill appear to predate the hillfort earthworks. If linked, they would have enclosed an area of less than 1.2 hectares. Their date is unknown, though it has been suggested that they may represent traces of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure. Material recovered from the surface during the survey included Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age potsherds.

The tomb of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon (1866-1923) stands on a platform in the south west corner of the hillfort interior (11a). Another feature in the south east corner has been plausibly interpreted as a pillow mound.

For further information, see the archive report (10). A summary account has also been published (11).

The alleged Neolithic causewayed enclosure mentioned above was investigated at Level 1 as part of the RCHME's project to record industry and enclosure in the Neolithic (Event record 923509) (12). A geophysical survey by English Heritage (AML) in 1997 has not traced any continuation of the circuit beyond the two lengths that survive as earthworks. There is therefore insufficient evidence to confirm or deny the suggestion that it is a causewayed enclosure, although the form of the earthworks would be very unusual. (12)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 25" 1911
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Man, a monthly record of anthropological science
Source details : Woolley, CL. Article 5
Page(s) : 08-Sep
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 13, 1913
Source Number : 9
Source : British Hillforts: an index
Source details :
Page(s) : 211
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 62
Source Number : 10
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : RCHME Field Investigation JUN-1978 JCJP & CW Butler
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 11
Source : The Antiquaries journal : journal of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Source details : Eagles, BN. A New Survey of the Hillfort on Beacon Hill, Burghclere, Hampshire
Page(s) : 98-103
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 148, 1991
Source Number : 11a
Source : Who's buried where in England
Source details :
Page(s) : 316
Figs. :
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Source Number : 12
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : RCHME: Industry and enclosure in the Neolithic
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Source : Beacon Hill/contour survey
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Source : Beacon Hill/pencil survey
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Source : Beacon Hill Hillfort/ink reconstruction drawing
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Source : Beacon Hill/pencil survey
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Source : SU 45 NE 39 (Beaacon Hill) (1967)
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Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Williams-Freeman, JP. 1915. Field Archaeology as illustrated by Hampshire pp85, 356
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Source : Beacon Hill/pencil survey
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Source : Beacon Hill/survey
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Source : Beacon Hill/pencil survey
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Source : Beacon Hill, addition to sheet 1/survey
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Source : Beacon Hill/survey
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Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Grinsell, LV. 1958. Archaeology of Wessex, p175
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Source Number : 5
Source : Antiquity
Source details : JK St Joseph
Page(s) : 223
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 39, 1965
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 CFW 02-MAR-67
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Source Number : 6a
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : (St Joseph CN 006)
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Source Number : 6b
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : (RAF/CPE/UK 1931 3042 Jan 1947)
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Source Number : 7
Source : Hillforts of the Iron Age in England and Wales : a survey of the surface evidence
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 8
Source : Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Source details : Palmer, R. Interrupted Ditch Enclosures in Britain: the use of aerial photography for comparative studies.
Page(s) : 161-186
Figs. : 19, 35
Plates : 20
Vol(s) : 42, 1976

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Neolithic
Display Date : Neolithic
Monument End Date : -2200
Monument Start Date : -4000
Monument Type : Causewayed Enclosure, Findspot
Evidence : Conjectural Evidence, Find, Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Bronze Age
Display Date : Bronze Age
Monument End Date : -700
Monument Start Date : -2600
Monument Type : Findspot, Pit, Hut Circle
Evidence : Find, Sub Surface Deposit, Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Univallate Hillfort, Hut Circle, Building Platform, Pit, Findspot
Evidence : Earthwork, Find
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Post Medieval
Monument End Date : 1901
Monument Start Date : 1540
Monument Type : Pillow Mound
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Tomb constructed 1926
Monument End Date : 1926
Monument Start Date : 1926
Monument Type : Commemorative Monument, Tomb
Evidence : Structure

Components and Objects:
Period : Neolithic
Component Monument Type : Causewayed Enclosure, Findspot
Object Type : VESSEL
Object Material : Pottery
Period : Bronze Age
Component Monument Type : Findspot, Pit, Hut Circle
Object Type : ANIMAL REMAINS, VESSEL
Object Material : Pottery
Period : Iron Age
Component Monument Type : Univallate Hillfort, Hut Circle, Building Platform, Pit, Findspot
Object Type : VESSEL
Object Material : Pottery

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 24318
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : HA 65
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SU 45 NE 39
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 232391
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 232549
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 232539
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 232544
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 232565
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 232577
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : BEACON HILL
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1912-01-01
End Date : 1912-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SU 45 NE 39
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1967-03-02
End Date : 1967-03-02
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SU 54 NE 39
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1978-06-01
End Date : 1978-06-01
Associated Activities : BEACON HILL CAMP (WESSEX HILLFORTS PROJECT)
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31