Thanks to info from the splendid Juamei I joined him and several other interested folks on a potted history and guided tour of St George's Hill Fort, organised by the very friendly people at Elmbridge Museum (Weybridge). I believe the next (free) trip is on 18th September so call 01932 843573 to put your name down.
The staff gave a short talk about the fort and its history, and handed round a few archeological finds, plus a few maps, paintings, and pictures of the area. We then drove out to the St.Georges area, widely described as one of the most exclusive housing developments in the UK. It has security guards, and even a map of the roads and houses, rather like the classic Tube map of London. Anyway, stuff the houses, we came for the hillfort.
There isn’t a great deal to see, but it was great to get the chance to see it, and to chat about it to the museum staff and the other people on the tour. Basically the council owns a semi-circular section of the rampart / ditch, which is all they can show us. The bank is about 6m tall, but the ditch has silted up, and only traces of a bank in front are visible. The remains of the ramparts are now heavily overgrown, and not easy look out from, but in a few places the steep incline off the main rampart / ditch is obvious.
A number of investigations at St George's Hill have failed to discover evidence for regular occupation, while in contrast, testing of a small area at St Ann's Hill suggested it may have been intensively occupied throughout the Iron Age. The archeological finds we saw at the Museum were from the general area, but not the fort itself.
PS - Laughable info from www.surreyproperty.com “St George's Hill to the south of the town is one of the most exclusive residential estates in the UK. With its origins as possibly a bronze age hill fort……” Umm, Bronze Age??
Just to the south of the fort's site is a lake romantically called 'Silvermere'. According to 'A Topographical History of Surrey' by Brayley and Mantell (1850), there were trenches leading from "the higher parts of the eminence to this lake. Some of these trenches are sufficiently deep to conceal a man on horseback; and they were doubtless intended to shelter the soldiers when going down to the water to drink; for Silvermere must always have existed; and most probably it derived that name, from the silvery appearance it presents when beheld from the higher grounds."
One can only hope it is silvery today and not full of crisp packets. It seems to be part of a golf course now, and was apparently (according to their website) used by Barnes Wallis for testing his 'Dambuster' bouncing bomb.
The original big house at Silvermere may have gone, but when it was built, "it was found necessary to remove a mound of earth, which proved to be a barrow, and in doing this, three Urns were discovered, filled with bones and charcoal; one of which has been preserved, with its contents, and may be seen within a niche on the terrace at Silvermere." I wonder if it made it to the museum? There is a picture of the urn on p369, and you can see it via Google Books.
Unreachable without trespass or prior permission, this fort lies hidden within a 'very exclusive' housing estate. Guards on 2 entry roads, road blocks on the other two and about 100 1million pound plus houses. Ironically enough, this was the original site of the Diggers, the first commune...
Some numbers to try:
01932 223550 - The residents association. More than likely to send you to...
01932 843573 - Elmbridge Museum. Run 3 or 4 visits a year to the hillfort in conjunction with the residents association, I await contact from them as to when the next visit is...
Repetitive but interesting posts / info about St.George's Hill / Diggers. Ignore most of the dates / events, as they relate to the 350th anniversary (in 1999) of the Diggers occupation of the hill fort area