My memory takes me back to 1972 and I have just queued up with my family for what seems a lifetime on a drab day outside the British Museum. We have just managed to get into the room where the treasures of Tutankhamun are on show and I am finally in front of the famous death mask taking in the awesomeness of it all, when an over zealous mother elbows me out of the way and thrusts her own children forward, the brief vision now fading away in a milieu of struggling families. Goodness, it was like a rugby scrum in there!
Forty two years later I'm walking around the top of Beacon Hill towards the grave of Lord Carnarvon, sponsor of Howard Carter's 1922 excavation in the Valley of the Kings. It's a beautiful day and being a Monday there's hardly a soul about, just the ever present hum of the A34 a long way below me. The last time I came up here must have been before 1972 when my parents would bring us here for a Sunday afternoon runabout and tell us about the Tutankhamun stories. It's all pretty much as I remember it, the grave surrounded by railings, the view to Highclere Castle, the stout earthworks of the hill fort, the wild flowers and butterflies and the singing of skylarks above. In fact the only thing that has changed is the A34 which must have been a very quiet affair pre-1972. It's the A34 that got me back here as well, having travelled up and down it on numerous occasions, always strongly aware of the hill's presence, but it was always a case of 'in too much of a hurry, not the right weather or nobody else in the car wanting to do the mammoth climb to the top'. Well today is my day and all the conditions are spot on.
Walked up Beacon Hill to the hillfort today. Was in Hampshire with a friend to visit the Sandham Memorial Chapel (which for me was a deeply affecting experience) and the walk up Beacon Hill afterwards somehow seemed totally fitting.
The car park is just off the A34, my first thought was that the noise from the traffic would detract from the enjoyment of the place. Its a long way up though and the noise soon receded - by the time we reached the hillfort at the top the A34 had diminished and could no longer be heard. As we walked round the ramparts a red kite glided by below us. There is a very big sky up there - wonderful cloud formations today and, needless to say, amazing views. Highclere Castle can be clearly seen and the grave of the Fifth Earl of Carnavon aka George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert (Adventurer, Explorer, Archaeologist) who with Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun - is on the edge of the hillfort surrounded by railings.
An amazing place!
This site is familiar to anyone traveling between Southampton and Oxford on the A34,
A great rounded hill on the W of the gap in the N Hants Downs.
The "fort" is not that obvious from below but after a very stiff climb (with many pauses for breath) the banks and ditches are revealed. They are all very well preserved and of impressive dimensions and some views reminded me of Maiden Castle although smaller. It's a rather peculiar shape being like an hour glass with the top chopped off, a result of following the contours I suspect.
In the NW corner (not SW as MAGIC has it) is the tomb of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, the sponsor and co-discoverer with Howard Carter of Tutankhamen.
Extensive views except to the NW with Ladle Hill to the E and plenty of chalk flora and fauna.
The only downside is that the roar of traffic from the A34 below is difficult to avoid. Otherwise a very worthwhile site to visit.
Small car park at base signposted from A34.
Very steep climb to top with many steps.
I happened on this accidentally a week ago. I was driving on the A34/Newbury bypass and completely missed my turn and ended up at Whitchurch, stumbling across this enroute. The prominence and height of this beastie and it's proximity to the road is outstanding.
I thought I’d dig out what information the excellent ‘Hampshire Treasures’ resource gives on Beacon Hiull and the surrounds – “Beacon Hill. Well preserved contour fort covering 12 acres. Within this area are some fifteen contemporary hut sites comprising horseshoe shape scoops and circular enclosures. scheduled ancient monument, no.7”
And the surrounding area is pretty much swamped with antiquity…
Round Barrow - SU458569 - 150 yds. south of Beacon Hill Camp - scheduled ancient monument, no.318
Earthworks – SU455576 - Crossing northern spur of Beacon Hill. Cross ridge dyke or 'covered way'. Visible in parts on air photographs.
Bowl Barrow - also at SU455576 - North of Beacon Hill Camp. Sited in fir plantation and covered with trees - scheduled ancient monument, no.290.
Iron Age Lynchets and Hollow-ways - SU456577 - Beacon Hill. Two lynchets halfway down north slope of hill with a number of later hollow-ways encroaching upon them.