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Bulstrode Camp

Hillfort

<b>Bulstrode Camp</b>Posted by RiotGibbonImage © RiotGibbon
Nearest Town:Gerrards Cross (0km E)
OS Ref (GB):   SU995880 / Sheets: 175, 176
Latitude:51° 34' 53.54" N
Longitude:   0° 33' 49.71" W

Added by RiotGibbon

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Fieldnotes

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Another limited excavation of Bulstrode Camp took place in 1969. It was motivated less by academic curiosity than by Eton Rural District Council's need to install a sewer. The operations were observed by S.A. Moorhouse of the Ancient Monuments Department, Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, and by Gerrards Cross and Chalfont St. Peter Local History Society. The excavators were able to record the stratification of the bank and, despite being hampered by water, managed to reach the floor of a ditch, unlike their 1924 predecessors. They also found two post-holes in the interior and evidence of a previously undiscovered inner ditch, but no objects or unusual features were uncovered. The excavators concluded, as Fox and Clarke had done in 1924, that the Camp was "rather a camp of refuge for intermittent occupation and not a permanent settlement" (Records of Bucks, Vol. 18 p. 324).

A geophysical survey between March and November 2002 detected "a number of possible prehistoric anomalies", mostly around the margins in the northern part of the site. Since these anomalies are circular and between 9 and 16 metres across it is possible that they are round houses. The survey also found evidence of what might be a 60 by 15 metre Neolithic or Bronze Age long barrow (John Gover - Bulstrode 'Iron Age' Camp Gerrards Cross: A Site of Many Periods, in Journal of Chess Valley Archaeological & Historical Society, 2003).

For more on the Camp and these excavations, go to http://www.gerrardscross.gov.uk/gx/bulstrode.htm
Posted by Catalanman
2nd March 2004ce
Edited 18th October 2004ce

Limited excavations were carried out here in 1924, with little success. (Records of Bucks. Vol XI p.282-288).

The excavators considered that the fragments of pottery found were 'almost certainly pre-Roman and of the Early Iron Age'. The inner rampart was found to be constructed by the simple dump method. In those days finds of charcoal were undateable and little else was discovered. This appears to be the only investigation ever made of this hill fort, despite its size and location. Its current unspectacular nature belies the way it once dominated the edge of the plateau above the valley of the Alderbourne.

Anybody interested in visiting might like to know that Gerrards Cross station is only about half a mile away, with a very good service to London (Marylebone) and to Birmingham. Also a number of bus routes pass along the A40, and the route 353 along Windsor Road stopping almost at Camp Road.
Posted by Missing Link
7th June 2002ce
Edited 1st April 2003ce

Bulstrode Tree Chimneys
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These are the strangest things - not neolithic, just 100 years old, but if you're visiting Bulstrode Camp, you really should go and see the Tree Chimneys.

They're in the trees at the North-West corner of the camp - walk around, look up in the trees, and stop when you see a brick wall half-way up one.

I really have no idea about how or why they got their ... since one of them has "1900" inscribed into the top, then all I can assume is that is a Victorian turn-of-the-century celebration.

Rather odd.
Posted by RiotGibbon
14th September 2001ce
Edited 1st April 2003ce

One year on, and time to pop back. The sign at the footpath says "no digging of holes".

Yet as I mooched around the Southern edge this time, I noticed that not only are some cheeky homeowners fencing off bits of the ditch and bank for their gardens, one house is totally relandscaping "their" bit.

Not good.

Still a beautiful place though

... come, come ...
Posted by RiotGibbon
30th May 2001ce
Edited 1st April 2003ce

A highly discrete, but strangely charming Chiltern hillfort. Hidden beside the A40 at Gerrards Cross, Bucks, just north of Slough (about half-an-hour from London), it's modern function seems sadly to be the private dog-walking arena for the surrounding "exclusive" housing estate.

Take the A40 to Gerrards Cross, turning left at the crossroads with the B416 to Stoke Poges/Slough. About 150 yards on your right there is a road marked "Camp Road". Ignore the "Private Road" sign, and park up (if you're driving - good luck with public transport) wherever you like around the "No Parking Past this Point" sign (though it does look like the kind of place where the Locals might get shirty :-)

Walk up the road until you get to the houses. On your right is a village green type thang. Turn left, walk about 20ft, and look closely for the "Bulstrode Camp" sign on your right. It's open for the public, but they're keeping this quiet.

Walk up the dog-shit caked grass footpath, and you'll notice a ditch ... yes it's a double-rampart, running almost the entire circumference of this enormous Iron-age settlement. The ditch is 8-10ft deep in places, though almost impassable - large houses with swimming pools and nasty dogs now "protect" this area, magically strengthening its power by dumping their canine and garden waste into the once proud defences. Cross the ditch by the path, and into the huge clearing of Bulstrode.

The site is visually unspectacular, disappointing even, at first when compared to sites such as Maiden Castle and South Cadbury Castle, but give it a while, and it'll soon grow on you. Apart from the Southern end, the defences are still well defined, if choked with undergrowth and compost, and parts are just explorable by the intrepid. There are lots of beautiful bluebells at this time of year (May). At the northenmost end (the A40 side, though you wouldn't know, it's a gloriously peaceful place) are a couple of trees that have been hit by lightning and hollowed out by the fire. It *is* possible for large adults to squeeze through the hole at the bottom, though you will end up covered in ash, and maybe bruises :-)

Not too sure about the historical details at the moment - the board says it is Iron-Age, and it's slap bang on the A40, so there was probably some Roman occupation as well, but that's only a guess. I'll try and find more, but in the meantime, do try to get out here and have a run about ... it's too good to be so hidden and secreted away "for the benefit of the parish"..

Do also note that Bulstrode marks the eastern end of the "Chiltern Hundreds" - the traditional way out of Parliament for washed-up, disgraced and greedy MP's. A valuable place indeed.
Posted by RiotGibbon
31st May 2000ce

Folklore

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The name Bulstrode, with its apparent reference to bulls, gave rise to the improbable legend that the Saxon Shobbington family resisted the Norman Conquest by attacking the Normans riding astride bulls. The story can be found in Lipscomb (George Lipscomb - The History and Antiquities of the County of Buckingham [1847]). Shobbington was supposedly supported by the Penn and Hampden families. According to James Joseph Sheahan (James Joseph Sheahan - History and Topography of Buckinghamshire [1862] p. 832) Bulstrode Camp was the remains of entrenchments used by Shobbington. This opinion is not too surprising, as people did not realise that hillforts were pre-Roman British fortifications until the late C19. In fact the name Bulstrode probably means 'the marsh belonging to the fort' and has no connection with cattle.

According to Keith Branigan (Keith Branigan - The Archaeology of the Chilterns from the Ice Age to the Norman Conquest [Chess Valley Archaeological and Historical Society, 1994], pp. 52-3) it is likely that one of the main functions of Chiltern hillforts was "to serve as secure centres for the storage of grain and stock".
Posted by Catalanman
2nd March 2004ce
Edited 2nd March 2004ce

Chatting to a knowledgeable friend about the possible role of the Ridgeway hillforts as overnight droving enclosures (they're all about 8/9 miles apart on the western section, a good days droving by anyone standards), he first proposed that Uffington was a horse market, with the banks of the hillfort being used as display areas, then mentioned Bullstrode.

This site, he suggested, may have also served as a cattle market. *Bul*strode is situated right on the A40, a major route for many years, which if is followed to the east, crosses the first river at a town now known as Uxbridge (or "Ox-bridge")

This doesn't count as proof, far from it, but it's something to consider.
Posted by RiotGibbon
14th August 2003ce