Hillbury Fort

Plan of Hillbury Fort



Hillbury SE corner from NW

The high point of the fort in the south-east corner

Puttenham is a special place for me with fond childhood memories of weekend visits to my father’s family home in The Street.  It is a pretty village, linear with the church at the east end, lying at the foot of the south slope of the Hogs Back, now favoured by commuters enjoying the country life.  Puttenham Common is just to the south side of the village on a greensand ridge with extensive views to the chalk ridge of the South Downs.

Hillbury Fort sits on the west end of the central ridge across the common, abutting a steep natural escarpment created by the small river flowing north to south through a series of millponds below.  It relates to three alignments; Crooksbury, Waverley and Deerleap.  The alignment point on the Crooksbury line is near the foot of the pine-covered escarpment near the edge of the water in dense rhododendron scrub, making site inspection extremely difficult. The atmosphere of this spot prompts images of sacred groves, and it would surely have been the source of water for the fort above.  This point is 10 DM along the alignment, as is the fort itself (see plan).

The WAVERLEY LINE appears to pass through two distinct gaps in the east and south ramparts.  The 10 DM point on this line tucks neatly into the high point of the north-east corner of the fort. This area is rough ground covered in bracken, and nothing out of the ordinary can be seen.

Hillbury to Hogs Back looking NE

The Hog’s Back in the north-east seen from inside Hillbury Fort

The extra text below is adapted from the description on the website of English Heritage.

This scheduled monument is a univallate hillfort, that is having a single wall with an external ditch, situated on a greensand spur that forms part of Puttenham Common. The hillfort defences enclose the spur end, creating a north-south aligned, sub-rectangular interior area of around 2ha. The most impressive defences are to the east, where they were constructed across the level ground which forms the neck of the spur. They survive as a bank up to 12m wide and 2m high, flanked by an outer ditch up to 8m wide and 0.75m deep. The northern and southern ramparts were designed to accentuate the naturally sloping spur edges, whilst the steep-sided, western edge of the spur made the construction of artificial defences in this area unnecessary. Access to the interior was by way of a simple, causewayed, 13m wide gap through the central part of the ramparts. The defences have been disturbed in places by the subsequent construction and use of more recent tracks and paths. Buried remains associated with the original use of the monument, including traces of houses, compounds, granaries and storage pits, can be expected to survive within the hillfort’s interior.

The monument shows signs of later remodelling and reuse, represented by a 7m wide, roughly north-south aligned, curving bank constructed across the western side of the hillfort. This has been dated to the medieval period, when the hillfort may have been in use as a stock enclosure.

The western half of the hillfort has been quite heavily disturbed by the construction of a group of slit trenches and pits during World War II when the spur formed part of an army training area.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *