The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

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Bulstrode Camp (Hillfort) — Folklore

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".

Bulstrode Camp (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

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
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