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Herefordshire Beacon Camp, or British Camp

SMR Number
: 932
Grid Reference
: SO 76 39

32 acres, irreg form, generally following contours. Entirely surrounded by ditch with outer rampart (spoil) & inner scarp of great height which in some places is further strengthened by slight inner rampart. Above inner scarp, natural hillside has been cut, where necessary, to form berm or walk. 4 entrances 1 on W side of S part of camp approached by curving trackway with outer rampart, while inner rampart slightly inturned on both sides. 2nd at re-entrant of angle formed by enclosure on E side where are traces of inner rampart immed S of the causeway over ditch. 3rd at most southerly part of camp where is causeway & inner rampart. 4th 70yds SSE of most N point. Traces slight inner ditch immed N of this entrance along which approach probably led. Within enclosure inner stronghold has been formed (7155). Within camp are number of sinkings. 1 immed NE of W entrance, 2 SW of N entrance - may be guard huts, also group of small roughly circular sinkings around hilltop in S portion of camp. (1)
2900' x 700' Average width foss from crest to vallum 70' greatest height of vallum 8-9' (7)
4 phases of construction. 2 Iron Age, 2 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 a counterscarp bank. Entrances NW and SE.
ii: enclosure enlarged x 4, by a 'magnificent line of defence' along 1000' contour. Upper edge of escarpment bears slight and intermittent traces of bank backed by quarry ditch. 4 entrances of overlapping type... (8)
Excav in 1879 revealed IA and RB 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 (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 to be not hut cercles 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. (14)
Undergraduate dissertation. (15)
Postgraduate Visualisation project. (16) (17)
Evaluation carried out in advance of a proposed new footpath, followed by a watching brief during construction. Nothing of archaeological significance found. (18) (19)

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. <10>SHE3363 - Scheduling record: 02/1985. Schedule. Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (English Heritage).
    12. <11>SHE12644 - Bibliographic reference: Stanford, S C. 1973. The Malvern Hillforts.
    13. <12>SHE9165 - Bibliographic reference: Hilton Price. 1880. J Royal Anthrop Instit. X,319.
    14. <13>SHE15419 - Serial: Anon. 1996. Herefordshire Archaeological News No. 66. Woolhope Club Archaeological Research Section. 66. Pages 40.
    15. <14>SHE16030 - Bibliographic reference: Lees, Edwin. 1867. Remarks on the Herefordshire Beacon. Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club. 1867. 6-11. Pages 6.
    16. <15>SHE18356 - Unpublished Report: Vaughan, Thomas Morris. 1993. The Herefordshire Beacon Hillfort: a Critical Reassessment.
    17. <16>SHE18360 - Unpublished Report: Quigley, Paul. 2007. Visualisation of the Herefordshire Beacon Hillfort (British Camp).
    18. <17>SHE18364 - Data: Quigley, Paul. 2007. Laser Scan Data of Herefordshire Beacon Hilllfort.
    19. <18>SHE16390 - Unpublished Report: Cruse, Graham. 06/2005. Proposed new footpath, British Camp, Herefordshire; Archaeological evaluation.. Border Archaeology. BA0508AAABCM.
    20. <19>SHE19016 - Unpublished Report: Phillips, Steve. 2005. British Camp, Malvern Hills: Archaeological Observation. Border Archaeology. BA0508AAABCM.

    Associated events

    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