Monument record 0124500000 - IVINGHOE BEACON HILLFORT


Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age hillfort associated with round barrows, possible cursus, house platforms and trackways

Protected Status/Designation

  • Planning Notification Area: Complex of Prehistoric hillfort, barrows and other earthworks on Ivinghoe Hill


Type and Period (2)

  • HILLFORT (Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age - 1000 BC to 401 BC) + Sci.Date
  • UNIVALLATE HILLFORT (Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age - 1000 BC to 401 BC) + Sci.Date


Plan Form - subtriangular
Scheduled ancient monument. Contour fort, close to Icknield Way (B11). For most part is univallate, single entrance at the eastern end. Created early in the 6th century BC by pastoralists still using Bronze Age implements, but otherwise with an Iron Age culture. The settlement was soon abandoned. The rampart rapidly weathered and the ditch became nearly obliterated (B6).
A geophysical survey carried out as a student project in 2000 suggests that the site has multi-phase use ranging from Neolithic to possibly Iron Age rather than the 'one generation' occupation suggested by Cotton and Frere. The survey is believed to show evidence of a pallisade rebuilt over time, a D-shaped enclosure close to the trig point and the neolithic cursus or moturaty enclosure running NE/SW across the site. Occupational activity appears to be confined to the interior of the fort in the west and northwest. (B16).
English Heritage's Earthwork Survey Report of November 2000, suggests that the Bronze Age/Iron Age society of the Chilterns eventually formed into a single kingdom farming the slopes of the hills and avoiding the heavily forested valley bottoms. During the later Bronze Age, the focus of settlement began to move down into the valleys and this is when the hillfort is likely to have been abandoned. The instigation of the box rampart is indicative of the site developing to form of a chain of hill forts in the late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age with Ravensburgh Castle, Maiden Bower and Wilbury Hill. The ramparts are still 2m high in places and excavation suggests that the main ditch was once 3.1m wide by 2.2m deep on the north side, with a second outer ditch present to the south. Survey evidence suggests a further two barrows inside the fort to the east of the barrow already noted. Four post structures might be interpreted as an excarnation platform showing the continuing funerary importance. The evidence for settlement inside the fort is strong with finds of late Bronze Age fine and coarseware, loom weights, quern fragments, plus cattle, sheep and pig bones. The fort probably became common ground after abandonment. The earthworks are not shown on estate or tithe maps. Nor are they shown on the first OS map of 1884, although the barrow is noted. The fort was first mapped in 1925. According to the Buckinghamshire Victorian County History of 1905 (page 379) a fire beacon once stood within the fort, with the kettle and other implements kept in the church. A Bren gun is also believed to have been sited on the beacon during World War II (B17).

Sources (22)

  • ---SBC17662 Aerial Photograph: 18/04/61. CUC ACT 41. SP\960160. Yes.
  • ---SBC22008 Aerial Photograph: Major Allen. 1937. 1937 Ashmolean Museum Oblique AP. SP96051685. Yes.
  • <1>SBC12905 Bibliographic reference: RCHM BUCKS 2 P154.
  • <2>SBC903 Unpublished document: BCM ACCESSIONS REGISTER.
  • <3>SBC8141 Article in serial: 1960. MANSHEAD MAGAZINE 1960 (JUNE) 4. No 4.
  • <4>SBC4459 Article in serial: James Dyer. 1959. DYER J F 1959 BARROWS OF THE CHILTERNS, IN ARCHAEOLOGICAL JNL 116 P16. Vol 116.
  • <5>SBC11717 Bibliographic reference: PEVSNER N 1960 BUCKINGHAMSHIRE P179.
  • <6>SBC3219 Article in serial: M A Cotton & S S Frere. 1968. 'IVINGHOE BEACON EXCAVATIONS 1963-1965', IN RECS OF BUCKS 18 PP187-260. Vol 18, part 3.
  • <7>SBC5953 Unpublished document: 1920. GURNEY F G 1920 NOTEBOOK/DIARY.
  • <8>SBC10870 Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey Field Investigator. OS RECORD CARD SP 91 NE 5 (FILED).
  • <9>SBC3304 Bibliographic reference: CUNLIFFE B 1974 IRON AGE COMMUNITIES IN BRITAIN PP35,229.
  • <10>SBC12442 Bibliographic reference: PROPERTIES OF THE NATIONAL TRUST (1977).
  • <11>SBC13926 Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1992. SCHEDULING LIST OF INSPECTORATE OF ANCIENT MONUMENTS.
  • <12>SBC4783 Verbal communication: FARLEY M E & PIKE A R (BCM) APRIL 1977 FIELD VISIT.
  • <13>SBC5832 Article in serial: 1981. GREEN H S 1981 DATING IVINGHOE BEACON, IN RECS OF BUCKS 23 PP1-3. Vol 23.
  • <14>SBC3353 Unpublished document: DALWOOD C H 1984/MDA CARDS.
  • <16>SBC19148 Unpublished document: John Gover. 2000. A Geophysical Investigation of Ivinghoe Beacon.
  • <17>SBC19493 Unpublished document: English Heritage. 2001. Ivinghoe Beacon, Ivinghoe: Survey Report.
  • <18>SBC19576 Article in serial: National Trust. 2001. The National Trust Annual Archaeological Review 2000-2001. No 9.
  • <19>SBC19856 Photograph: John Gover. 2000. Bronze Age Sword Find from Ivinghoe Beacon Hill Fort. Print.
  • <20>SBC19857 Unpublished document: Gary Marshall. 2000. Correspondence from National Trust regarding find of Bronze Age Sword at Ivinghose Beacon.


Grid reference Centred SP 9605 1683 (228m by 160m) (Centred on)
Civil Parish IVINGHOE, Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire

Finds (1)

  • SWORD (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)

Related Monuments/Buildings (12)

Related Events/Activities (6)

  • Event - Intervention: (EBC11255)
  • Event - Intervention: (EBC1126)
  • Event - Intervention: (EBC14436)
  • Event - Survey: Geophysical surveys (EBC16178)
  • Event - Survey: Site visit (EBC1383)
  • Event - Intervention: Topographic earthwork survey (EBC16179)

Record last edited

Aug 10 2020 8:08PM

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