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Herefordshire Beacon Camp, or British Camp, Colwall

SMR Number
: 932
Grid Reference
: SO 76 39

The hillfort occupies the summit of that portion of the Malvern Hills immediately south of the pass through the hills at Wynds Point. It covers an area of c. 32 acres and is of irregular form, generally following the contours. It is entirely surrounded by a ditch with outer rampart, formed by the spoil thrown downhill from the ditch, and an inner scarp of great height which, in some places, is further strengthened by a slight inner rampart. Above the inner scarp the natural hillside has been cut, where necessary, to form a berm or walk. There are four entrances. The one to the west side of the southern part of the camp is approached by a curving trackway with an outer rampart, while the inner rampart is slightly inturned on either side of the entrance. The second entrance is at the re-entrant of the angle formed by the enclosure on the east side, where there are traces of an inner rampart, immediately south of the causeway over the ditch. The third entrance is at the most southerly part of the camp, where there is a causeway and inner rampart. The fourth entrance is some 70 yards SSE of the most northerly point, and, though this has been much destroyed, there are traces of a slight inner ditch immediately north of this entrance along which approach probably led, and not, as now, directly into the camp. Within the enclosure, an inner stronghold has been formed (HER 7155), which is defended in part by the outer camp defences. Within the camp are a number of sinkings. There is one immediately NE of the W entrance, two SW of the N entrance, and a small one 50 yards NE of the S entrance. These, from their position, may possibly be the sites of guard huts. There is also a group of small roughly circular sinkings around the hill-top in the southern portion of the camp, and a single sinking just within the NE entrance to the inner enclosure. The steepness of the scarping and a general similarity in the construction of this camp to that of Midsummer Hill Camp would suggest that this work belongs to the same period. (1)
2900' x 700'. Average width of fosse from crest to vallum is 70'; greatest height of vallum is 8-9'. (7)
Four phases of construction, two Iron Age, two medieval.
i: enclosure upwards of 8 acres protected by slight bank above artificially steepened scarp, at foot of which ditch across level ridge on NE is a counterscarp bank. Entrances on NW and SE.
ii: enclosure enlarged x 4, by a "magnificent line of defence" along the 1000' contour. Upper edge of escarpment bears slight and intermittent traces of bank backed by quarry ditch. Four entrances of overlapping type. (8)
Excavations in 1879 revealed Iron Age and Romano-British pottery. (9)
Phase 1 of hillfort: 3ha with ditch and rampart surrounding main summit. On W and NW the circuit has been heavily modified, on NE it survives well and on E and S it can be traced. A large part of the interior is occupied by a medieval ringwork and bailey (HER 7155). On the E 29 hollows and platforms are interpreted as hut circles. Phase II hillfort: expanded to 13.5ha by enclosing the spurs to the S and NE of the hill. This obliterated the Phase I ditches on the W and NW and to a lesser extent, on the east. Phase IIa: abandoned scarping. Phase IIB enlarged rampart terminal on S side. 118 hut circles identified, many of these may prove not to be hut circles though it is also probable that many more remain to be discovered. Size of circles from 4.5m to 12m in diameter. A possible spring located within the Phase II rampart. (10)
Members of the Woolhope Club visited the site on May 28th, 1867. A description of the visit and site, with comments, are given by Mr Edwin Lees. (15)
Undergraduate dissertation. (16)
Postgraduate Visualisation project. (17) (18)
Evaluation carried out in advance of a proposed new footpath, followed by a watching brief during construction. Nothing of archaeological significance found. (19) (20)

Monument Type(s)

  1. HILLFORT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)

Associated Files

    Sources and Further Reading

    1. <1>SHE132 - Bibliographic reference: Royal Commission on Historical Monuments. 1932. Inventory of Monuments, Herefordshire East, Vol II. Herefordshire East, Volume II. II,56.
    2. <2>SHE5796 - Bibliographic reference: 1901. Worcestershire. VCH. I,187.
    3. <3>SHE2235 - Bibliographic reference: Walters, H B. 1908. Romano-British Herefordshire (pp 167-199). The Victoria History of the County of Hereford edited by William Page, Vol I. I,205.
    4. <4>SHE6180 - Aerial Photograph: Baker, A. 1957. SO7359.12-20; SO7639.1-2.
    5. <5>SHE531 - Bibliographic reference: The Antiquaries Journal. XXXIX,241.
    6. <6>SHE532 - Bibliographic reference: 1965. Antiquity. XLI,224.
    7. <7>SHE9787 - Graphic material: Lines, H H. 1869.
    8. <8>SHE13260 - Bibliographic reference: Wheeler, R. 1952. The Archaeological Journal. 109,146.
    9. <9>SHE11197 - Bibliographic reference: Price, F. 1880. Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club. 214.
    10. <10>SHE14016 - Unpublished Report: Bowden, M. 2000. British Camp or Herefordshire Beacon. English Heritage Investigation Report. English Heritage.
    11. <11>SHE3363 - Scheduling record: 02/1985. Schedule. Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (English Heritage).
    12. <12>SHE12644 - Bibliographic reference: Stanford, S C. 1973. The Malvern Hillforts.
    13. <13>SHE9165 - Bibliographic reference: Hilton Price. 1880. J Royal Anthrop Instit. X,319.
    14. <14>SHE15419 - Serial: Anon. 1996. Herefordshire Archaeological News No. 66. Woolhope Club Archaeological Research Section. 66. Pages 40.
    15. <15>SHE16030 - Bibliographic reference: Lees, Edwin. 1867. Remarks on the Herefordshire Beacon. Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club. 1867. 6-11. Pages 6.
    16. <16>SHE18356 - Unpublished Report: Vaughan, Thomas Morris. 1993. The Herefordshire Beacon Hillfort: a Critical Reassessment.
    17. <17>SHE18360 - Unpublished Report: Quigley, Paul. 2007. Visualisation of the Herefordshire Beacon Hillfort (British Camp).
    18. <18>SHE18364 - Data: Quigley, Paul. 2007. Laser Scan Data of Herefordshire Beacon Hilllfort.
    19. <19>SHE16390 - Unpublished Report: Cruse, Graham. 06/2005. Proposed new footpath, British Camp, Herefordshire; Archaeological evaluation.. Border Archaeology. BA0508AAABCM.
    20. <20>SHE19016 - Unpublished Report: Phillips, Steve. 2005. British Camp, Malvern Hills: Archaeological Observation. Border Archaeology. BA0508AAABCM.
    21. <21>SHE23667 - Unpublished Report: Remfry, Paul. 1997. The Herefordshire Beacon.

    Associated events

    1. EHE932 - Excavation, Herefordshire Beacon Camp, 1879 (Ref: SMR Event: 932)
    2. EHE30517 - Herefordshire Beacon, Colwall, field survey (Ref: SMR Event: 30517)
    3. EHE42575 - Evaluation, British Camp, 2005 (Ref: SMR Event: 42575)

    Protected status

    1. Scheduled Monument 3: Herefordshire Beacon camp

    Associated Historic Landscape Character Records

    1. HHE370 - Unenclosed - Upland Waste
    2. HHE373 - Woodland - Woodland
    Last Updated: 23/07/2010 12:35:57