Visited 8th April 2004: I've been visiting Ivinghoe Beacon since I was a kid, but back then I had no idea there was a hillfort here. I've got so many memories of the place, it's hard to filter out the sentimentality and describe the 'site'.
OK, there's not much left of the ramparts but you get a good sense of the defensive position when you stand at the top looking out of the relatively flat surrounding countryside. The southern and eastern sides of the fort are the weakest defensively, and this is where the ramparts can best be seen.
This a simple, early hillfort, and it has a distinctly primeval feel to it. There are usually people up on the summit of Beacon Hill, flying remote controlled gliders or walking, but if you get it to yourself there's a feeling of splendid isolation. Not bad in such an overpopulated part of the UK!
Tradition says that some shepherds, on a part of the high ridge over Ivinghoe, on the borders of Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, and at a distance of at least thirty miles in a direct line from Edge Hill, saw a twinkling light to the northward, and, upon communication with their minister, 'a godly and well-affected person,' fired the beacon there also, which was seen at Harrow on the Hill, and from thence at once carried on to London; and that thus the news was given along a line of more than sixty miles, by the assistance of only two intermediate fires.
p310 in 'Some Memorials of John Hampden, his party and his times' by Lord Nugent, v2 (1832).
The battle of Edgehill in 1682 was the first major battle of the Civil War.
Visited 8th April 2004: This is one of those barrows that nobody notices even though it's quite large. Planted on top of Beacon Hill, within the defenses of the hillfort, I think it's thought of as just the summit of the hill.
A footpath runs over the top of it, and there's quite a bit of soil erosion going on. It looks like this must have once been a rather large barrow. It goes without saying that the views here are great.
According to English Heritage, geophysics have uncovered possible evidence for a further two round barrows within the interior of the hillfort.
Visited 8th April 2004: These two bowl barrows are the closest to the National Trust car park, and if you're walking to Beacon Hill you pass very close to them.
The larger of the two barrows is very prominent from the surrounding countryside. It's easy to spot and relatively easy to get to, up a steep slope. There are excellent views from the top of the larger barrow.
The smaller barrow lies to the east of the large one, and is much trickier to find. It is a lot smaller and shorter. We visited during the early Spring, but I'd imagine this barrow would be more tricky to find during the summer. Not very spectacular, so if you can't find it, don't loose any sleep about it.