Places to Visit in Hampshire

Butser Hill near Petersfield

Butser Hill is a vast irregularly shaped hill whose plateau-like top was in regular use throughout prehistory. Neolithic flints and axes have been uncovered at this site, Bronze age round barrows still survive at various spots on the hill and there is also evidence of Iron Age and Romano-British field systems on the summit with defensive earthworks across the approach spurs.

Just under 4km to the south is the Butser Ancient Farm: the 'open air laboratory for archaeology' with recreations of Iron Age dwellings and farming techniques. The project started off on a northern spur of Butser Hill called Little Butser, before moving to the more convenient site near Chalton.

Access Butser Hill is a National Nature Reserve and is incorporated within the Queen Elizabeth Country Park. It has a convenient (pay and display) car park with picnic area and roundhouse-themed conveniences at the south-western corner of the plateau: follow the road signs from the A3 to "Butser Hill Picnic Area". The summit is the highest point in the South Downs (270m above sea level) and offers 360 degrees of amazing views over the surrounding countryside. The modern addition to this site is a communications and air traffic control mast and its associated buildings.

Map Ref: SU716203

Holy Well – Swanmore

Situated beside the busy A32, you would never know this was here unless you were looking for it. Heading north, after the road crosses the river a lodge will be found on the left. A sign says "Private, no vehicle access", but there is also a footpath leading across the land. Following the main road north from the lodge, a depression may by seen on the other side of the hedge and at the bottom of this is the well. It is brick and stone lined, with water near to the surface, and the remains of an access path may be seen.

Map Ref: SU597146

St. Chad's Well – Bedhampton

It is to be found by taking the first right turn from the B2149 Bedhampton Road after the Golden Lion pub, assuming you are approaching from the direction of the A3. The well(s) are capped, in similar fashion to the nearby Bidbury Springs, and are situated between a residential road in a modern housing estate and the railway. The well used to be known for its health giving virtues.

Map Ref: SU706064

Binsted Holy Well near Upper Froyle

The best way to reach it is to turn off the A31 to the south at the small turning marked Mill Court. Half a mile or so down the road is a small and picturesque bridge over the River Wey, and immediately beyond this is Mill Court Lodge. The well, small and with a stone built housing, is situated below the lodge on the approach to what appears to be a ford - presumably the method of crossing the river before the bridge was built.

Map Ref: SU755417

Holybourne

Bourne is an old world for a stream, especially in Southern England. Holybourne is a village just to the north east of Alton. The Holybourne is a stream running from the pond below the church into the river Wey. Hope has "The Holybourne is supplied by a spring from the chalk near the upper green sand outcrop. The spring has an elevation of about 350ft., and is close to the churchyard. Formally the water issued from its natural spring almost opposite the west door of the church, and about 20 yds. from it; when the churchyard was enlarged, the spring and its stream were culverted for about 30 or 40 yds. to the pond.

Map Ref: SU732412

Winklebury Camp near Basingstoke

Remains of an Iron Age hillfort, with a single rampart and ditch enclosing almost 15 acres. The site has suffered a lot of development in recent times: it is surrounded by a housing estate and in 1977 a school was built within the ramparts. Excavations discovered two Iron Age phases; firstly from the 6th to 5th century, and secondly from the 2nd to 1st centuries BC. A close-set palisade had later been covered by a rampart and then subsequently enlarged.

Map Ref: SU613528

Frankenbury near Godshill

This Iron Age hill fort is on a very slight promontory overlooking the Avon Valley on the north-western edge of the New Forest. On its west and south sides the defences are a simple scarp: the very steep drop down to the Avon flood plain obviously did not need any improvement! On its weaker north and east sides a single bank and ditch was constructed, with a simple entrance open to the SE.

Access A footpath skirts round the south and west sides of the fort, from the amusingly named Sandy Balls campsite down to the Avon valley. There isn't much in the way of earthworks to see from this path, but there are plenty of nature things (trees, flowers, birds, deer) on the very steep slope. The 11-acre interior and defensive bank are all on private land (the ditch has mostly been filled in), but they can be seen from the surrounding public footpaths.

Map Ref: SU167152

Beacon Hill – Warnford

This barrow cemetery includes six bowl barrows and a saucer barrow situated on the steeply sloping eastern face of a spur of Beacon Hill (west of Warnford in the Meon valley). Only one of the bowl barrows (next to the path at SU605224) and the saucer barrow (further down the slope at SU607225) are obvious. This site has a nice symmetry with the barrow cemetery on the west-facing spur of Old Winchester Hill on the other side of the Meon valley.

Access The barrow cemetery is within the Beacon Hill National Nature Reserve, which has a convenient small car park at grid ref SU598227. Go through the gate to the southwest and follow the track with the beech plantation to your left and open fields to your right. Shortly after passing the OS trig point climb the stile and you'll easily find the two obvious barrows. Keep going down the spur and you'll cross the medieval "hollow ways": track ways worn deep into the chalk of the hill over centuries of use.

Map Ref: SU606224

Old Winchester Hill

Down land and prehistoric earthworks of one-hundred-and forty acres, owned and managed by the English Nature, including a notable hill fort enclosing about fourteen acres, about two miles east of Meon Stoke and approached by road from Exton.

This is one of Hampshire's great hill forts, splendidly situated on the southern chalk ridge of the county like the other fortifications of Danebury and St. Catherine's Hill. Unlike Danebury, the fort has never been excavated, but the main fortifications appear to be a high single bank, rising in some places to some twenty-three feet above the ditch. There are two entrances, one at the east, one at the west; but the camp must have been very difficult of access; even the great walker and veteran Hampshire field archaeologist, the late Dr. Williams Freeman, found the gradient outside of the ramparts very steep. It seemed likely that the fort was first constructed by Iron Age peoples like the original Danebury. Its situation is very important, for it is strategically placed east of the River Meon, and its inhabitants would have found it easy to watch for invaders following along the river valley. It has recently been suggested that it may have been the tribal centre of the regions of the Meon Valley.

Map Ref: SU641203

Giants Grave – Breamore

A Neolithic long barrow oriented NE-SW, originally 65m long and 26m wide with flanked ditches. Now partly mutilated at its SW end and no trace of ditches due to ploughing. The barrow's axis points uphill, which contrasts with most of the other local long barrows, which follow the local contours.

Access The barrow is in the care of the Breamore House estate, and it now has a rabbit-proof perimeter fence and sign. This part of the estate can be visited for free, and access paths have been made through the crops.

Map Ref: SU138200

Breamore Miz-Maze

This is a really beautiful maze, although not easy to find. It is 84 by 81 feet in diameter, of 'Chartres' design, within its own small wood, the trees completely encircling it. It is a scheduled ancient monument and fenced off, thus being impossible to walk upon, which is a little disappointing after the long walk to find it. However, it is in superb condition and a joy to visit.

Access Leave your vehicle at the Breamore House and Museum car park, which is clearly signposted from the A338. On foot, follow the signs to Breamore House (no need to buy a ticket) and follow the bridle path past the house and all the way through Breamore Wood and keep going. A large sign indicates the final turn you need to take to reach the miz-maze. The Giant's Grave long barrow is less than 500 metres SW of the miz-maze and is worth a look if you've come this far.

Map Ref: SU142203

Farley Mount – Hursley

The Hampshire Treasures resource classes this site as a Bronze Age bowl barrow, with the brief description "Obelisk erected on top of barrow". Other sources are not so certain as to whether the mound was originally a barrow. Its location on a high point on the chalk down land is typical for Hampshire round barrows, and there are several other Bronze Age barrows nearby. This is, of course, circumstantial evidence: more substantial proof is lacking due to the more modern modifications to the site.

If this is indeed a Bronze age burial site, then it underwent an unusual (and somewhat belated) secondary burial in the 18th century in the form of a racehorse called "Chalk Pit". Its owner had a 10 metre high pyramid build over the top of the grave to commemorate the horse that probably saved his life and certainly brought him financial gain. In the words of the plaque on the monument: Underneath lies buried a horse, the property of Paulet St John Esq, that in the month of September 1733 leaped into a chalk pit twenty-five feet deep a foxhunting with his master on his back. And in October 1734 he won the Hunters Plate on Worthy Downs and was rode by his owner and entered in the name of "Beware Chalk Pit".

The Farley Mount Country Park website says, "Part of the [recent] repair work included a resistivity survey of the mound ... to see if there was a void, or disturbance, where the horse may have been buried. Nothing of interest was found." Presumably this means that nothing prehistoric was found either.

Access The mound lies within the Farley Mount country park, managed by Hampshire County Council, and is open to the public at all times. Stop at the "Monument car park" on the southern side of the narrow lane that runs E-W through the park. Head up the Clarendon Way footpath and the site is obvious from the gleaming white pyramid on top of the mound (which can be seen from many miles away on a clear day).

Map Ref: SU403290

Furze Down near Martin

This Neolithic long barrow is found in the middle of a field on an exposed hilltop, inconspicuous at less than 1m high. It is 56m long, with parallel flanking ditches that have long since silted up. Its width tapers from 20m at the east end to less than 9m at the west end. The barrow was mutilated by the construction of a (now disused) reservoir at its centre.

Map Ref: SU078218

Butser Ancient Farm

This site is the open-air laboratory for research into Prehistoric and Roman agriculture and building techniques. They are open to the public only for themed weekend events, but the farm continues to be open to schools and groups by arrangement, all the year round.

Visit the website at http://www.butser.org.uk

Access Visit the Farm's website for full details of times, events and location. It is at Bascomb, which is very close to the A3 between Portsmouth and Petersfield: follow the brown road signs.

Map Ref: SU719164

Seven Barrows near Burghclere


These bowl barrows lay on Thorn Down either side of the A34, about a half a mile south of Beacon Hill. The largest is 35m in diameter and 2.5m high, and the four to the west of the A34 are quite noticeable from the road. Cremations and inhumations were found in these barrows.

Access Get a closer look from the lay-by on the northbound carriageway of the A34. It has a sign posted path to the de Haviland flight memorial. Apparently it was here that Sir Geoffrey de Haviland (1882-1965), pioneer aviator, aeroplane designer, and founder of the aircraft company, which bore his name, made his first successful flight on 10 September 1910.

Map Ref: SU462553

Andover Museum of the Iron Age

The Iron Age Museum tells the story of Danebury Ring, an Iron Age hillfort

Address: 6, Church Close, SP10 1DP
Phone: 01264 366283
Opening Hours: Open Tue - Sat 10am - 5pm
Admission: Free

Map Ref: SU365457

Micheldever Wood

Iron Age Banjo Enclosure in Micheldever Wood, Hampshire. At the southern end of Mill Lane Copse. Site in good condition, but tree planted. Sub-circular ditch 70m. in diameter and up to 1.0m in depth.

Map Ref: SU53353658

Grans Barrow near Rockbourne

Grans Barrow on Toyd Down is a large, well-preserved Neolithic long barrow. It is about 60m long, 20m wide and over 2m high. The parallel flanking ditches, which are no longer visible, are separated from the mound by broad berms. The barrow is oriented with its slightly larger end towards the south, following the ridge that it lies on. The profile of the barrow is level without any significant depressions, looking like a false horizon. If you approach uphill from the east it remains hidden behind the rise of the hill until you are very close to it. From the south and west the barrow is quite conspicuous: much more so than the neighbouring Knap Barrow, which is much longer but not as tall.

Map Ref: SU090198

Danebury Ring near Nether Wallop

Danebury is in the care of Hampshire County Council and is easily accessed via signposted footpaths. The hilltop was defended in the 6th century BC with a massive rampart, broken by two gates and divided into tow halves by a road in the interior.

Map Ref: SU323377

All Saints Well – Thorney Hill

Despite the fact that the well lies in the churchyard next to the road, the site is easy to miss.

All Saints Church is only a couple of hundred years old, and has a strange, unchurch-like appearance. The well is among the graves. The church is comparatively recent.

Map Ref: SZ197997

Pudding Barrow near Brockenhurst

Round Barrow in Hampshire, located in the southeast corner of the Forestry Commission’s Round Hill caravan site. Surrounded by a recent (and substantial) wire fence and wooden bumper to prevent damage from oblivious campers and caravans, or thrill-seeking off-road bikers. There is no stile or gate to this fence, so presumably the barrow should be admired from a distance. There are many similar barrows in this part of the New Forest, but this one is unique in that it has a given name (an obvious reference to its "pudding" shape?). Hampshire treasures states that the barrow is "disturbed on east side", but at least it escaped the fate of many other local tumuli that were lost when the Beaulieu Heath area was used as an airfield during the Second World War.

Access The barrow is on Forestry Commission land, in the corner of a campsite (only open for camping during the summer). However, access by foot/bike is possible all year round. Nearest car park is off the B3055 at Stockley (SU345017); then take the concrete track west along the southern edge of Stockley Enclosure.

Map Ref: SU336018

Stagbury Hill near Furzley

Hampshire treasures lists seven barrows at this Scheduled Ancient Monument, but little remains of them today. The hill was also used as a rabbit warren and the round barrows at the summit were disturbed by the rabbits' burrowing. The three round barrows just SW of the sandy knoll are lost under gorse and bracken and disturbed by medieval hollow ways and more recent paths. The summit of the hill itself is an earthwork, associated with the rabbit warren, and is topped by an OS triangulation point. Work has been done to limit erosion of the sandy soil, including wood-reinforced steps to the summit. The hill commands excellent views of the northeastern corner of the New Forest, especially over Cadnam Common to the south.

Access Parking on grass verges south of the crossroads at the hamlet of Furzley. Choose your own walking route south across Furzley Common (National Trust owned), the summit is obvious and only a few hundred metres from the roads. Alternatively approach on foot from the south across Cadnam Common, but expect the ground to be boggy in winter/spring.

Map Ref: SU285160

Castle Hill near Burley

Iron age (or possibly earlier) earthwork. The five-acre site is surrounded by a single rampart and ditch. Parts of the interior are marshy and much of it is overgrown with oak, silver birch, holly and bracken. The rampart is lowest on the western side where the gradient of the natural hill is steepest; it is most obvious on the southeastern side (several metres high) where the natural defences are less formidable. An unmetalled road (Castle Hill Lane) runs north south through the site, with a branch to the east to provide access to a few houses to the southeast of the earthwork. There are therefore three 'entrances' to the interior, although it is not clear whether any of these are original. The site is within the New Forest boundary, and is grazed by common stock (mostly ponies). Hampshire Treasures lists the site as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (No. 226). Terry Heathcote (in "Discovering the New Forest", Halsgrove, 1997) mentions that the hill was once the legendary home of a local dragon, slain by a knight from the village of Brook; hence the name of the Green Dragon pub at Brook. The site is within the parish of Burley, whose name may be derived from the Anglo-Saxon bury which means a 'fortified place'.

Access The Castle Hill car park at SU197041 is closed at the time of writing, but there is roadside parking on the verge. Castle Hill Lane is a narrow unsurfaced lane that runs through the site, and although it is accessible to cars priority should be given to cyclists/pedestrians. It is possible to walk the perimeter on top of the rampart, although it can be boggy in places.

Map Ref: SU199039

St Catherine's Hill near Winchester

The defences of this early Iron Age hill fort consist of two banks with a ditch in between, and an original entrance to the northeast. There is evidence that the defences were periodically improved as times of war and peace came and went. The hill fort was left deserted after it was sacked in the first century BC.

The Miz Maze lies within the hill fort, close to the original entrance through the ramparts. St. Catherine’s Chapel stood in the middle of the clump of beech trees on the summit (no remains).

The whole area is a managed Nature Reserve and has beautiful views to the E over the Itchen flood plain, Winchester and St. Cross.

Access There are at least three ways to approach the hill; short and difficult, short and easy, long and moderate. 1, The parking point on the small road going W. just after going under the disused railway. A steep path with steps leads back under the railway and leads to the NW corner where the Miz Maze is. 2, Take the (Roman) road to Morestead and by the M3, where the road turns sharply SE, there is a small lay-by. Walk over the footbridge. 3, Coming S on M3, take Marwell Zoo sign, go back under M3 and park near the viaduct. The path back to the hill diverges, to the left is a delightful walk by the Itchen Navigation Canal (one of the earliest), which will lead you back to 1. Divert to the right by the waterfall to climb Plague Pits Valley and the hill. The previous path to the right climbs a ridge and leads to 2.

From parking place 2 if you keep to the left (E) the Dongas are a series of deeply cut tracks made by Prehistoric and Mediaeval travellers going to the site of the Itchen ford now Winchester.

Further on, overlooking the M3 is a standing stone about 2m high. It is inscribed with the names of the b******s who allowed this rape of Twyford Down and was erected as an indictment and a memorial.