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Alfred's Castle



Details of Site on Pastscape

A univallate hillfort situated c500m north west of Ashdown House. The earthwork defences consist of a single rampart bank which measures between 3m and 10m wide and stands up to 1.5m high. It was originally revetted with sarsen walls. Two seasons of excavations by Oxford University have revealed Late Bronze Age origins to the site with a Roman building within the centre of the enclosure dating from the 2nd - 4th centuries AD. Attached to the north of the enclosure is an elongated annex dated to the Late Bronze Age. The site has also been surveyed and mapped from aerial photographs.

[SU 27738223] Alfred's Castle [T.I.] CAMP [G.T.] (1)
Alfred's Castle, Ashbury, is an earthwork of roughly hexagonal shape, consisting of bank and outer ditch enclosing 2.6 acres [see plan AO/LP/63/162] The original entrance is in the south-east corner, but it is not certain if the gaps in the north-east and north-west sides are original or not. The site has not been excavated but sherds of Southern Second A, Southern First C, Romano-British and ? Saxon pottery have been found on the surface; there are traces of a structure of some sort, possibly a building, in the interior. The position, size and shape of the work are unlike any of the Berkshire hill-forts, but are more like the type of site chosen for a farmstead or village (2). Wheeler however, includes it in his provisional map of Belgic defended sites (4). Cotton includes it in her list of Berkshire hill-forts (3) and Thomas calls it an Iron Age hill-fort (5). Allen's air photograph [AO/LP/63/161] reveals the ditch of a much larger enclosure to the north of the camp, which may represent an Iron Age work of early date; it cannot be traced on the ground (2). Scheduled (6). Iron Age univallate hill-fort under three acres (7). (2-7)
Alfred's Castle is a small defensive enclosure, the defence consisting of a strong rampart (with Sarsen revetting exposed in places) and a broad ditch. Of the three entrance gaps, that in the N.E. appears to be comparatively modern. There are traces of possbile building platforms within the earthwork but for the most part these are ill-defined. The large annexe visible on the Allen A.P. cannot be traced on the ground. There are numerous sherds of I.A. and R.B. pottery in molehills within Alfred's Castle, and Newbury Museum has the following collections:-
Two Ne. sherds and a small spear or large Ne arrowhead and I.A. sherds (Acc. 1931:115). I.A and R.B. sherds (Acc. 1938:259 and 1960:16).
As Mrs. Cotton and Prof. Wheeler have suggested the site is that of a defended farmstead or village rather than a hill-fort.
Surveyed at 1/2500. (8)
Over 40 Early Iron Age and Roman sherds found on site in 1980-1. (9)
The earthwork enclosure known as Alfred's Castle described by the previous authorities was mapped from aerial photographs. Attached to the northern side of Alfred's Castle enclosure is an elongated annex defined by a single broad ditch measuring 150m x 320m. Within the Alfred's Castle enclosure the foundations of a 2nd-4th Century AD Roman building were mapped from aerial photographs taken during excavations of the site in July 1998. The excavations were carried out by Oxford University as part of the Hillforts of the Ridgeway Project. This work was able to provide dating of the site from the L. Bronze Age through to the 4th Century AD. A second season of excavation at the site was carried out in July 1999 which among other findings was able to date the annex enclosure to the Late Bronze Age. To the north-west and west of Alfreds Castle the extensive cropmark remains of a system of large ditched enclosures or fields were seen and mapped from aerial photographs. These enclosures appear to be continuous with the L.Bronze Age annex enclosure to the north of Alfreds Castle. This system of enclosures have been recorded in SU28SE **. (11-13)
Report of the excavation. (14)

( 1) Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date) 6" 1960
( 2) Berkshire Archaeological Society The Berkshire archaeological journal 58, 1960 Page(s)44-8
( 3) Berkshire Archaeological Society The Berkshire archaeological journal 60, 1962 Page(s)51
( 4) The Antiquaries journal : journal of the Society of Antiquaries of London 7, 1933 Page(s)34
( 5) Nicholas Thomas 1960 A guide to prehistoric England Page(s)41
( 6) General reference Ancient Monuments in England and Wales 1961 (M.O.W.) Page(s)19
( 7) General reference OS Maps of Southern Britain in the Iron Age 1962 Page(s)48
( 8) Field Investigators Comments F1 JP 25-FEB-64
( 9) Oxfordshire Archaeological Unit : newsletter 8(3), 1981 Page(s)1
(10) Scheduled Monument Notification 04/03/1997
(11) Vertical aerial photograph reference number OS 72 224/151 15-JUL-1972
(12) Oblique aerial photograph reference number NMR SU2782/31 09-MAR-1989
(13) Oblique aerial photograph reference number NMR SU2782/53 JUL-1998
(14) Council for British Archaeology Group 9: South Midlands archaeology newsletter 29, 1999 Page(s)44-53
Chance Posted by Chance
21st August 2012ce

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