Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

EN0097: Walbury Camp  

Sources: Esri, DigitalGlobe, Earthstar Geographics, CNES/Airbus DS, GeoEye, USDA FSA, USGS, Getmapping, Aerogrid, IGN, IGP, and the GIS User Community

HER:  West Berkshire MWB1578

NMR:  SU 36 SE 5 (228800)

SM:  1005387

NGR:  SU 37408 61800

X:  437408  Y:  161800  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

On the highest part of the Downs between West Berkshire and Hampshire and to the E of Combe Gibbet, a large, trapezoidal, univallate hillfort of 33ha. It is located at the widening of an EW chalk ridge and is the largest hillfort in the former county of Berkshire. An outer bank cuts across the spur in the NE and traces of counterscarp banks occur in places. Slight banks extend from the NW entrance as 'barbican-like' features (Payne 2006:45). The main entrance lies in the N-W with a further entrance in the SE which is considered to be original based on the widening of the ditches. A gap with staggered entrance in the outer bank might also be original. Beyond these In the W, a further 120m length of ditch cuts across the ridge. Both are associated with a hollow way. The presence of internal features is unknown and no excavation has taken place. A magnetometry survey produced a large number of anomalies, only a small number of which were possibly archaeological but would require excavation to confirm (Payne 2006: 47). Because of the large area enclosed, slight enclosing works and lack of evidence for intensive activity it has been classified by Cunliffe (2002: 380) as an 'early hill-top enclosure' with a pastoral function. The monument survives in good condition but is undated other than by morphology. The earliest known reference is in Camden's Britannia c.1586. Recorded on Ordnance Survey drawing of Hungerford 1808.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -162994  Y:  6684152  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -1.464201  Latitude:  51.353996  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  England

Current County or Unitary Authority:  West Berkshire

Historic County:   Berkshire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Combe

Condition

Extant:  
Cropmark:  
Likely Destroyed:  

Land Use

Grassland with semi-improved grassland in the northern sector

Woodland:  
Commercial Forestry Plantation:  
Parkland:  
Pasture (Grazing):  
Arable:  
Scrub/Bracken:  
Bare Outcrop:  
Heather/Moorland:  
Heath:  
Built-up:  
Coastal Grassland:  
Other:  

Landscape

Hillfort Type

A univallate contour hiilfort lying on Cretaceous Upper Chalk overlain by calcareous silty soils of the Andover 1 series. The hillfort lies at 295m OD on the highest point on the chalk in Britain. The hillforts of Fosbury, Beacon Hill and Ladle Hill can be seen. Farther afield, both Danebury and Quarley Hill are visible to the S. Under optimum conditions Uffington Castle, Rams Hill and Segsbury can be made out on the northern horizon

Contour Fort:  
Partial Contour Fort:  
Promontory Fort:  
Hillslope Fort:  
Level Terrain Fort:  
Marsh Fort:  
Multiple Enclosure Fort:  

Topographic Position

Hilltop:  
Coastal Promontory:  
Inland Promontory:  
Valley Bottom:  
Knoll/Hillock/Outcrop:  
Ridge:  
Cliff/Plateau-edge/Scarp:  
Hillslope:  
Lowland:  
Spur:  

Dominant Topographic Feature:  Situated at the widening of an EW chalk ridge with extensive views in all directions

Aspect

North:  
Northeast:  
East:  
Southeast:  
South:  
Southwest:  
West:  
Northwest:  
Level:  

Elevation

Altitude:  295.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  Parish/Townland:  Formerly bisected by the historic counties of Berkshire and Hampshire. Now in West Berkshire, it crosses two parishes, Combe and Inkpen, although the scheduling record mentions a third parish, that of West Woodhay. The Inkpen or North Hampshire Ridgeway follows the same line, bisecting the hillfort.

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  Hampshire

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Inkpen

Dating Evidence

Undated. The site has been classified by Cunliffe (2002: 380) as an early hilltop enclosure owing to the size of enclosed area and slightness of the defences.

Reliability:  C - Low

Pre 1200BC:  
1200BC - 800BC:  
800BC - 400BC:  
400BC - AD50:  
AD50 - AD400:  
AD400 - AD 800:  
Post AD800:  
Unknown:  

Pre Hillfort Activity:  ✓  Neolithic flint implements (scraper, cores, flakes, arrowheads and a spearhead) discovered on ground surface in 1871 (Stevens 1888). A Late Bronze Age globular urn has also been found.

Post Hillfort Activity:  ✓  Triangulation pillar; concrete posts possibly for communications or air defence. Two sceattas were found in 1972 and 1974 (Metcalf 1974)

Morphology/Earthwork/Typology:  No details.

Investigations

No authorised excavation has been carried out. A short-lived unauthorised schoolboy excavation of a pit was made by O.G.S. Crawford where charcoal, animal bones and two teeth were recovered. A sketch plan of a survey appears in Williams-Freeman (1915: 114). Field investigation in 1963. Geophysical survey (18.8ha) within the interior as part of the Wessex Hillfort Project (Payne et al. 2006) found no obvious archaeological features and the hillfort possibly saw only low level activity. The site is mentioned in Camden's Britannia c.1586 and Aubrey's Monumenta Britannica (1665-1693). Scheduled

Other (Uncertain):  Scheduled
1st Identified Written Reference (1586):  Camden's Britannia
1st Identified Map Depiction (1808):  Ordnance Survey Drawing of Hungerford; BL OSD, Two inch to the mile
Excavation (12/01/1907):  O.G.S Crawford pit inside 'north' entrance
Other (1963):  Field investigation
Geophysical Survey (1997):  Wessex Hillforts Project

Interior Features

No surface features are visible although a pit was briefly excavated by Crawford in 1907

Water Source

Alleged dew pond within the interior, possibly originating from a chalk pit, said to never run dry

None:  
Spring:  
Stream:  
Pool:  
Flush:  
Well:  
Other:  

Surface

Pits in the western sector appear to be the result of chalk digging. The interior of the hillfort has been extensively cultivated.

No Known Features:  
Round Stone Structures:  
Rectangular Stone Structures:  
Curvilinear Platforms:  
Other Roundhouse Evidence:  
Pits:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  

Excavation

Small pit briefly excavated by O.G.S. Crawford

No Known Excavation:  
Pits:  
Postholes:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  
Nothing Found:  

Geophysics

In the region of 60 percent of the hillfort interior has been surveyed (Payne, 2006: 44-7). Very few archaeological features could be identified and it is thought that the underlying geology rendered the survey difficult to analyse, although it was also suggested that the hillfort saw only low-level activity.

No Known Geophysics:  
Pits:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  
Nothing Found:  

Finds

Neolithic flint implements have been found on the surface. A Late Bronze Age globular urn is recorded as coming from the site. Charcoal, animal bones and teeth from pit.

No Known Finds:  
Pottery:  
Metal:  
Metalworking:  
Human Bones:  
Animal Bones:  
Lithics:  
Environmental:  
Other:  

Aerial

APs Not Checked:  
None:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Pits:  
Postholes:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Other:  

Entrances

Seven breaks, two original. In-turned to NW and simple gap to SE

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  7:  Based on earthwork plan in the Wessex Hillforts Project report (2006).

Number of Possible Original Entrances:   

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (Northwest):  In-turned:  Possible 'Barbican' outwork. Holloway runs from this entrance crossing two outworks. A length of ditch outside the entrance resembles a cross ridge dyke
Entrance 2 (Southeast):  Simple Gap:  Possible entrance - simple off-set gap and earthworks are wider either side

Enclosing Works

Univallate with a steep outward facing scarp and slight outer ditch. Traces of a counterscarp bank in places. The top of the rampart in the N is approximately 5m above the ditch bottom. Slight banks extend from the NW entrance as 'barbican-like' features (Payne 2006:45). Beyond these In the W a further 120m length of ditch cuts across the ridge. Both are associated with a hollow way.

Enclosed Area 1:  33.0ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  33.0ha.

Total Footprint Area:  33.2ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  

Number of Ramparts:  1:  Univallate with a steep outward facing scarp and slight outer ditch. In places there are traces of a counterscarp bank. The top of the rampart on the north side is approximately 5m above the ditch bottom. Slight banks extend from the north-west entrance as 'barbican-like' features (Payne 2006:45). Beyond these In the west a further 120 m length of ditch cuts across the ridge. Both are associated with a holloway.

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  1
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  1
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  1
Number of Ramparts NW Quadrant:  1

Current Morphology

Partial Univallate:  
Univallate:  
Partial Bivallate:  
Bivallate:
Partial Multivallate:  
Multivallate:  
Unknown:  

Multi-period Morphology

Partial Univallate:  
Univallate:  
Partial Bivallate:  
Bivallate:  
Partial Multivallate:  
Multivallate:  

Surface Evidence

Counterscarp visible in places.

None:  
Earthen Bank:  
Stone Wall:  
Rubble:  
Wall-walk:  
Evidence of Timber:  
Vitrification:  
Other Burning:  
Palisade:  
Counter Scarp Bank:  
Berm:  
Unfinished:  
Other:  

Excavated Evidence

None:  
Earthen Bank:  
Stone Wall:  
Murus Duplex:  
Timber-framed:  
Timber-laced:  
Vitrification:  
Other Burning:  
Palisade:  
Counter Scarp Bank:  
Berm:  
Unfinished:  
No Known Excavation:  
Other:  

Gang Working

Gang Working:  ✗ 

Ditches

Ditches:  

Number of Ditches:  1

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

Cunliffe, B. 2002. Iron Age Communities in Britain. 4th edition. Routledge

Metcalf, D. M. 1974. Sceattas Found at the Iron-Age Hill Fort of Walbury Camp, Berkshire. British Numis J 44, 1-12

Payne, A., Corney, M. and Cunliffe B 2006: The Wessex Hillforts Project. Extensive Survey of Hillforts in Central Southern England. English Heritage, 44-47.

Stevens, J. 1888. A Parochial History of St. Mary Bourne. Whiting & Company

William-Freeman J.P. 1915: An Introduction to Field Archaeology as Illustrated by Hampshire. Monograph

Terms of Use

The online version of the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland should be cited as:

Lock, G. and Ralston, I. 2017.  Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland. [ONLINE] Available at: https://hillforts.arch.ox.ac.uk.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.