Hambledon Hill Multivallate Iron Age Hillfort

Record ID:  110913 / MNA180726
Record type:  Monument
Protected Status: Scheduled Monument
NT Property:  Hambledon Hill; South West
Civil Parish:  Child Okeford; North Dorset; Dorset
Grid Reference:  ST 843 128
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Summary

Hambledon Hill Iron Age hillfort is one of the most impressive earthworks in southern England. Its triple ramparts in nearly all of its circuit enclosing an an area of 31 acres (12.5 hectares) and the earthworks of 365 round houses have been surveyed (RCHME 1996, 36) across the interior. Only one archaeologically recorded excavation has taken place inside the ramparts by Roger Mercer in 1986 (Mercer and Healey 2008, 366-377). Edward Cunnington (1895, 157) carried out poorly recorded digging near the long barrow and mentions badly burnt soft pottery and Roman finds.

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Monument Types

  • MULTIVALLATE HILLFORT (Early Bronze Age to Roman - 2350 BC to 409 AD (between))

Description

'For beauty of position and interest in detail the great camp of Hambledon Hill, six miles north-west of Blandford is unsurpassed by any other earthwork in Dorset' (Crawford and Keiller 1928, 44).

Hambledon Hill Iron Age hillfort is one of the most impressive earthworks in southern England. Its double ramparts enclosing an an area of 31 acres (12.5 hectares) and the earthworks of 365 round houses have been surveyed (RCHME 1996, 77) across the interior. Only one archaeologically recorded excavation has taken place inside the ramparts by Roger Mercer in 1986 (Mercer and Healey 2008, 366-377). Edward Cunnington (1895, 157) carried out poorly recorded digging near the long barrow and mentions badly burnt soft pottery and Roman finds.

The fort is defined by two main ramparts with external ditches and further scarping bewlow the outer ditch for the greater part of its length. There are three entrances differing in siting and form. The northern largely destroyed by a quarry sited on a steep slope. At the southeren end of the fort are two opposing entrances. The south-western producing a funneled approach similar to the NE entrance of nearby Hod Hill and the south-eastern facing onto a steep slope with a narrow approach along the narrow more level neck of land protected by a bulwark double rampart.

The hillfort is thought to have developed over time, first the northern third of the hill divided by a ditch (the site of the 1986 excavation), then the central highest third including the long barrow (110914) and lastly the southern lower lobe of ground enclosed where many of the round houses and remains of 4 Bronze Age burial mounds have been surveyed (RCHME 1996, 36).

Pottery from the 1986 excavation and found at various times in rabbit scrapes and erosion dates settlement activity to the Early Iron Age 6th-5th centuries BC but the earthwork development indicates a long period of occupation many of the round houses may be contemporary with Hod Hill and date to the Middle and Late Iron Age.

The National Trust acquired the hill and took over management from Natural England on 31st March 2014. David Stewart completed a fluxgate gradiometer survey of the entire hillfort interior in June 2014.

The internationally important complex of Neolithic causewayed enclosures excavated under the direction of Roger Mercer 1974-1986 lie south and east of the National Trust property boundary although the hillfort may be built over part of the complex. Only the long barrow provides evidence of this earlier activity within the hillfort.

References

  • SNA65851 - Unpublished document: 2011. Hambledon Hill - A Plan for the Clearance and Management of a Section of the North-Eastern Ramparts.
  • SNA66419 - Unpublished document: Papworth Martin. 2015. Hambledon Hill: watching brief on post-hole for new National Trust omega sign.
  • SNA66497 - Unpublished document: Stewart Dave. 2014. Hambledon Hill Camp, Dorset A Geophysical Survey.

Status

  • Nature Reserve
  • Site of Special Scientific Interest

Associated Events

  • ENA7461 - Field Survey, A Plan for the Clearance and Management of a Section of the North-Eastern Ramparts
  • ENA7462 - Field Survey, Hambledon Hill Conservation Plan June 1999
  • ENA7954 - Non Archaeological Intervention, Watching brief during installation of omega sign SE edge of property January 2015
  • ENA8005 - Field Survey, Magnetometry Survey of Hambledon Hill May 2014

Associated Finds

None Recorded

Related Records

None Recorded