Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

EN3580: Badbury Rings  

(Badbury Camp)

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HER:  Dorset MDO5994

NMR:  ST 90 SE 45 (209560)

SM:  1002679

NGR:  ST964030

X:  396414  Y:  102992  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

Commanding, multivallate, contour hillfort, sited in prominent position on a chalk knoll and commanding wide views in all directions. Above River Stour SE-NW and on its interfluve with the River Allen. Moderate surrounding slopes. Round and domed site of c. 6.9ha. Defined by two, massive, concentric ramparts and ditches, with lesser outer rampart and ditch, surrounding knoll. Possibly, at least, two phased construction, the outer circuit less imposing and may be later and Romano-British date in origin, but unclear. Wide berm, averaging 15m across, separates outer defence from inner two, averaging c. 15m across, except where swings out to enclose a barbican formed by the middle rampart outside the WNW entrance. Interesting entrances on ENE and WNW, both having long passageways through all three circuits. Former has a simple, oblique and curving, passageway through the ramparts, that through the inner bank having inturned ends. The WNW is more complex. Access through the barbican was originally by means of a gap at SW corner, now considered modern, as is the break in the centre of its W side giving a direct approach to the inturned gap through the inner rampart. Visited by Colt Hoare 1822. Sited on Roman crossroads close to site, with adjacent Romano-British settlement on SW, identified with Vindocladia of the Antonine Itinerary, and also with Mons Badonicus of Gildas. Possible later activity by army under Ethelwold, c. AD 899, and by the `Clubmen' 1645. Group of prominent barrows close to site on NW. Geophysics and small-scale trench excavations from 1965 to 2005 found evidence of range of interior features, including possible Bronze Age ring ditches, Iron Age occupation and possible Roman shrine or temple within walled enclosure. Finds included early Neolithic flint scatter on summit and and late Iron Age pottery associated with two roundhouse sites as well as evidence of reoccupation of hillfort in 5th and 6th century AD. Spring in interior. Site largely tree covered, 'Badbury Clump', in interior with grassy banks with some scrub. Summit already planted when Colt Hoare visited site 1822. Fine condition and well-managed National Trust site. On 1st Ed. OS map (1888). Undated.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -228461  Y:  6590642  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -2.052303  Latitude:  50.826391  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  England

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Dorset

Historic County:   Dorset

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Shapwick

Condition

Fine condition and well-managed National Trust site (since 1982) and now part of the Kingston Lacy House estate. Very popular public access site, with continuing management works, including access walkways on ramparts.

Extant:  
Cropmark:  
Likely Destroyed:  

Land Use

Domed site largely tree covered, 'Badbury Clump', in interior with grassy banks with some scrub. Summit already planted when Colt Hoare visited site 1822. SSSI.

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

Landscape

Hillfort Type

Multivallate, contour hillfort, sited in prominent position on Upper Chalk knoll, capped with Reading Beds inside fort, and commanding wide views in all directions. Above River Stour SE-NW and on its interfluve with the River Allen. Moderate surrounding slopes.

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:  Chalk knoll

Aspect

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

Elevation

Altitude:  97.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  Parish/Townland

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Pamphill

Dating Evidence

Late Iron Age pottery associated with two roundhouse sites as well as evidence of reoccupation of hillfort in 5th and 6th century AD. Morphology suggests hillfort probably Iron Age to Romano-British date.

Reliability:  B - Medium

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

Pre Hillfort Activity:  ✓  Early Neolithic flint scatter on summit. Group of ten very prominent and well-preserved round barrows, despite possible antiquarian diggings, close to site on NW, with at least three more detected by geophysical survey. Possible early Bronze Age date.

Post Hillfort Activity:  ✓  Sited on Roman crossroads close to site and site of Roman shrine or temple, together with immense adjacent Romano-British settlement (ST 90 SE 37) on SW, identified with Vindocladia of the Antonine Itinerary, and also with Mons Badonicus of Gildas. Ballista projectile heads found under temple and nearby to SW suggest Roman military activity. Also possible later activity by army under Ethelwold, c. AD 899, and by the `Clubmen' 1645.

Artefactual:  Late Iron Age pottery. Roundhouse sites.
Morphology/Earthwork/Typology:  Morphology suggests probably Iron Age to Romano-British date.

Investigations

Visited by John Leland in his Itinerary 1538-43. In Aubrey's Monumenta Britannica (1665-1693). Visited by Colt Hoare 1822. On 1st Ed. OS map (1888). Excavation Faith Vatcher 1965. Measured survey RCHME 1998, ref. no. 918785. Geophysical surveys 1993, 1998. Geophysical survey M. Papworth 2000. Small excavations M. Papworth 2000 and 2005. Geophysical survey Stewart 2006. Visits by Hillfort Study Group 1966, 2016.

1st Identified Written Reference (1538-43):  Visted by John Leland in his Itinerary.
1st Identified Written Reference (1665-1693):  In Aubrey’s Monumenta Britannica.
Other (1822):  Visited by Colt Hoare.
1st Identified Map Depiction (1888):  OS map.
Excavation (1965):  F. Vatcher.
Other (1966):  Visit by the Hillfort Study Group
Geophysical Survey (1993, 1998):  For National Trust.
Earthwork Survey (1998):  Measured survey RCHME.
Geophysical Survey (2000):  M. Papworth.
Excavation (2000, 2005):  M. Papworth.
Geophysical Survey (2006):  Stewart.
Other (2016):  Visit by the Hillfort Study Group

Interior Features

Geophysics and small-scale excavations, 1965 to 2005, 2006 found evidence of range of interior features, including possible Bronze Age ring ditches, Iron Age occupation with roundhouse sites and possible Roman shrine or temple within walled enclosure. Finds included early Neolithic flint scatter on summit and and late Iron Age pottery associated with two roundhouse sites as well as evidence of reoccupation of hillfort in 5th and 6th century AD. Evidence of shallow quarrying immediately inside inner rampart, probably to provide additional material for defences.

Water Source

Spring in interior.

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

Surface

Evidence of shallow quarrying immediately inside inner rampart, probably to provide additional material for defences.

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

Excavation

Geophysics and small-scale excavations, 1965 to 2005, found evidence of range of interior features, including possible Bronze Age ring ditches, Iron Age occupation with roundhouse sites and possible Roman shrine or temple within walled enclosure.

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

Geophysics

Geophysics and scale excavations, 1965 to 2005, 2006 found evidence of range of interior features, including possible Bronze Age ring ditches, Iron Age occupation and roundhouse sites and possible Roman shrine or temple within walled enclosure.

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

Finds

Finds included early Neolithic flint scatter on summit and and late Iron Age pottery associated with two roundhouse sites as well as evidence of reoccupation of hillfort in 5th and 6th century.

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

Interesting entrances on ENE and WNW, both having long passageways through all three circuits. Former has a simple, oblique and curving, passageway through the ramparts, that through the inner bank having inturned ends. The WNW is more complex. Access through the barbican was originally by means of a gap at SW corner, now considered modern, as is the break in the centre of its W side giving a direct approach to the inturned gap through the inner rampart.

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  3:  SW breach in ramparts may not be original.

Number of Possible Original Entrances:   

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (Northeast):  In-turned:  On ENE simple, oblique and curving, passageway through the ramparts, that through the inner bank having inturned ends.
Entrance 1 (Northeast):  Oblique:  Oblique and curving, passageway through the ramparts.
Entrance 1 (Northeast):  Passage-way/Corridor:  Long passageway.
Entrance 2 (Northwest):  Barbican:  On WNW. Complex, with access through the barbican originally by means of a gap at SW corner, now considered modern, as is the break in the centre of its W side giving a direct approach to the inturned gap through the inner rampart.
Entrance 2 (Northwest):  In-turned:  Inturned gap through inner rampart.
Entrance 2 (Northwest):  Passage-way/Corridor:  Long passageway.

Enclosing Works

Defined by two concentric ramparts and ditches, with lesser outer rampart and ditch, surrounding knoll. Possibly at east two phases of construction. Berm separates outer defence from inner two, averaging c. 15m across, except where swings out to enclose a barbican formed by the middle rampart outside the W entrance.

Enclosed Area 1:  6.9ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  6.9ha.

Total Footprint Area:  20.0ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✓  At least two phases of construction.

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  

Number of Ramparts:  3

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts NW Quadrant:  3

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

Probable earthen banks. Berm separates outer defence from inner two, averaging c. 15m across, except where swings out to enclose a barbican formed by the middle rampart outside the W entrance.

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

Excavated Evidence

Evidence of shallow quarrying immediately inside inner rampart, probably to provide additional material for defences.

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:  3

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

Fowler, P.J. 1965. A Roman barrow at Knob's Crook, Woodlands, Dorset. Ant J, XLV, 22-52.

Gale, J. 2003. Prehistoric Dorset, Stroud: Tempus Publishing.

Hearne, T.1768. The Itinerary of John Leland the Antiquary: Publish'd from the Original MS. in the Bodleian Library by Thomas Hearne M.A., Oxford.

National Trust 2000-2001. Note, The National Trust annual archaeological review 9, 2000-2001.

Ovenden-Wilson, S. 1998. Badbury Rings Dorset: geophysical survey, Report Geophysical Surveys of Bradford.

Papworth, M. 2001. Evaluation excavation, Badbury Romano-Celtic temple, Proc Dorset Natur Hist Archaeol Soc, 122, 148-150.

Papworth, M. 2005. Excavation and geophysical survey at Badbury Rings 2005: interim report, National Trust archaeological reports.

Papworth, M. 2011. The Search for the Durotriges: Dorset and the West Country in the Late Iron Age, The History Press.

RCHME 1972. An inventory of historical monuments in the County of Dorset, Vol 4, North Dorset, London: RCHME.

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.

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