Vespasian's Camp
Vespasian's Camp is an Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 Hillfort in the town of Amesbury
Amesbury is a town and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. It is most famous for the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge which is in its parish, and for the discovery of the Amesbury Archer—dubbed the King of Stonehenge in the press—in 2002...

, Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. It is located less than 2 miles from the older Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 and Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 monument of Stonehenge
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks...

 and was built on a hill next to the Stonehenge Avenue
Avenue (archaeology)
British Archaeologists refine the general archaeological use of avenue to denote a long, parallel-sided strip of land, measuring up to about 30m in width, open at either end and with edges marked by stone or timber alignments and/or a low earth bank and ditch...



Although the Roman
Roman citizenship
Citizenship in ancient Rome was a privileged political and legal status afforded to certain free-born individuals with respect to laws, property, and governance....

 general Vespasian
Vespasian , was Roman Emperor from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians, who rose into the senatorial rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

 campaigned through Wessex
The Kingdom of Wessex or Kingdom of the West Saxons was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the West Saxons, in South West England, from the 6th century, until the emergence of a united English state in the 10th century, under the Wessex dynasty. It was to be an earldom after Canute the Great's conquest...

 after the Roman invasion of Britain, there is no evidence to suggest he came to this hillfort or had any military base here. The name was given to the site by William Camden
William Camden
William Camden was an English antiquarian, historian, topographer, and officer of arms. He wrote the first chorographical survey of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and the first detailed historical account of the reign of Elizabeth I of England.- Early years :Camden was born in London...

, who during the Elizabethan era toured the area and gave the hill its romanticised
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...



The hillfort stands on the western fringe of Amesbury and borders the River Avon on its southern side, and the A303 on its northern edge. It is inside the boundaries of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site
Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites
Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Wiltshire, England. The WHS covers two large areas of land separated by nearly , rather than a specific monument or building. The sites were inscribed as co-listings in 1986....

 inscribed in 1986, although it dates from a later era to the other monuments for which the site is famous. Several other hill-forts are located nearby, including Danebury
Danebury is an Iron Age hill fort in Hampshire in England, about north-west of Winchester . The site, covering , was excavated by Barry Cunliffe in the 1970s...

 to the east, Sidbury Hill
Sidbury Hill, Wiltshire
Sidbury Hill, or Sidbury Camp, is the site of an Iron Age bivallate hillfort located in Wiltshire. The site is sub-triangular in shape, and approximately 17 acres in area, and is constructed on the site of a neolithic settlement. The hill offers excellent defensive slopes on all sides, which have...

 and Casterley Camp
Casterley Camp
Casterley Camp is the site of an Iron Age univallate hillfort located in Wiltshire. The site comprises a large Iron Age/Romano-British enclosure, possibly non-defensive in function, and incomplete. The site was partially excavated in the 19th century....

 to the north, Yarnbury Castle
Yarnbury Castle
Yarnbury Castle is a 9.1 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Wiltshire, England, notified in 1951.-Source:* -External links:*...

 to the west, and Figsbury Ring
Figsbury Ring
Figsbury Ring is a 11.2 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Wiltshire, notified in 1975. It is owned and managed by the National Trust....

 and Old Sarum
Old Sarum
Old Sarum is the site of the earliest settlement of Salisbury, in England. The site contains evidence of human habitation as early as 3000 BC. Old Sarum is mentioned in some of the earliest records in the country...

 to the south. Ogbury Camp 3 miles south may have been a satellite enclosure of Vespasian's Camp.
From north to south the hill-fort is 730m in overall length and 374m wide at the southern end, narrowing to 100m wide at the northern end. It encloses an area of some 15 hectares. The bank is up to 40m wide and up to 6 metres high above the ditch bottom. The ditch is up to 10m wide with a low counterscarp
A scarp and a counterscarp are the inner and outer sides of a ditch used in fortifications. In permanent fortifications the scarp and counterscarp may be encased in stone...

 bank up to 18m wide on the outside of the ditch, creating a maximum overall width of the hill-fort's defences of 68m.


The hill on which Vespasian's Camp stands was used during the Neolithic era, as indicated by the Neolithic pits found near the centre. In the Bronze Age a barrow
A tumulus is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds, Hügelgrab or kurgans, and can be found throughout much of the world. A tumulus composed largely or entirely of stones is usually referred to as a cairn...

 was built on the hill. Excavations suggest that the hill may have been part of the Stonehenge ritual landscape during this period.
The first building of the hillforts banks is believed to have occurred during the late Bronze Age (between 1100BC-800BC) with some later building in the early Iron Age (700BC-350BC). There appears to be an entrance on the northern and southern sides. Unlike most regular hillforts of the time, Vespasian's Camp has a somewhat unusual shape, appearing from above as an arrowhead. The southern banks are constructed with angled corners (possibly to take the shape of the hill alongside the Avon into account), which is not a common feature in most round hillforts in the south.

Excavations have revealed a metre thick layer of domestic waste that suggests the hill was heavily occupied after the banks were constructed. The absence of significant middle Iron Age finds suggests that the population on the hill had declined by then.

A road
A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places, which typically has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by some conveyance, including a horse, cart, or motor vehicle. Roads consist of one, or sometimes two, roadways each with one or more lanes and also any...

 came to be constructed over the hilltop in the middle ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, and now separates the southern corner from the rest of the fort. The A303 was cut through the northern section of the hill in the 1970s, just below the northernmost bank.

During the 18th Century the hillfort was landscaped as part of the Marquis of Queensbury's grounds around Amesbury Abbey
Amesbury Abbey
Amesbury Abbey, also known as the Abbey of St Mary and St Melor, was a Benedictine abbey at Amesbury in Wiltshire, founded by Queen Ælfthryth in about the year 979 on what may have been the site of an earlier monastery....

. A grotto
A grotto is any type of natural or artificial cave that is associated with modern, historic or prehistoric use by humans. When it is not an artificial garden feature, a grotto is often a small cave near water and often flooded or liable to flood at high tide...

, vista and paths were constructed and substantial tree planting was carried out.

External links

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