Oldbury Hill: Oldbury Camp: Oldbury Hillfort


  • Oldbury, Ightam, Kent.
  • OSGB – TQ582562
  • Scheduled Monument.
  • Monument Number 409479


A multivallate, Iron Age hillfort/camp, roughly diamond shaped.

Contour hillfort covering approximately 50 hectares. It is the largest hillfort in the south east of England and is defended on three sides by natural defences of the greensand ridge it sits on, on the Weald.

Originally thought to have had two periods of construction. The first phase included a small dump constructed rampart and a wide ditch measuring c.1.5 meters deep, and 3m wide. The entrances were located at the north east and south, with a defensive outwork located outside of the southern entrance. Excavations have shown that there was only one construction phase. Includes a double bank in some areas. The ramparts originally stood around 10m high. Today they survive to a height on 1m in places.


The Iron Age ditch and bank, now used as a trackway, on the southern end of the Oldbury Hillfort in Kent.
By Ethan Doyle White – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=78225730


The wide ditch is believed to have been of the Fécamp type defences, originally developed in northern France. These defences included a shallow, wider ditch and incorporated sharpened stakes or Cheuaux-de-frise, to stop attacks by riders and cavalry.

Archaeology has shown that there is no evidence of Oldbury being occupied on a permanent basis, so it may have been a place of refuge or for gatherings. There is, however evidence of a short period of light occupation at the southern end, and this is interpreted as having happened during the construction phase of the site.


The view of the ditch from the adjacent bank along the southwestern side of Oldbury Hillfort in Kent.
By Ethan Doyle White – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=78225781


There is a spring located within the camp which would have been their water supply. Quarrying activities were undertaken during the Roman period evidenced by some pottery within the quarrying context.



100 BC                         First constructed.

50 BC                           Abandoned for a while. Archaeological evidence of burning at the north gate. May have occurred during the incursion by Julius Caesar.

43 AD                           Defences improved. The bank was enlarged, and the ditch recut to include a flat, wide bottom. The entrance at the south was inturned. There is evidence from this date that the timber gate located at the north east entrance may have been burnt down – evidence in the post hole remains.

1938                              Excavated.

1945                              Willed to the National Trust.

1961                              Field Investigation.

1964                              Field Investigation.

1983                              Geophysical Survey.

1983-1984                    Excavated.

1992                              Excavated.

2003                              Geophysical Survey.


The bank along the southwestern end of Oldbury Hillfort in Kent.
By Ethan Doyle White – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=78234134


For the archaeology of the site CLICK HERE



 Recommended Reading



References and Bibliography

Bradley. R. 2014. The Prehistoric Settlement of Britain. Routledge.

Cunliffe. B. 2004. Iron Age Communities in Britain: An Account of England, Scotland and Wales from the Seventh Century BC Until the Roman Conquest. Routledge.

Darvill. T., Stamper. P., &. Timby J. 2002. England: An Oxford Archaeological Guide to Sites from Earliest Times to AD 1600. Oxford University Press.

Green. M 2012. The Celtic World. Routledge.

Harding. D. W. 2014. The Iron Age in Lowland Britain. Routledge.

Harding. D. W. 2007. The Archaeology of Celtic Art. Routledge.

Harding. D. 2012. Iron Age Hillforts in Britain and Beyond. Oxford University Press.

Hasted. E. 1797. General history: The weald. The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 1. Bristow.

Hastead. E. 1798. The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent, Volume 7. W. Bristow.

National Trust. 2020. Oldbury Hillfort, Kent: An Iron Age Hillfort. Available at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/oldbury-hill/features/oldbury-hill-kent–an-iron-age-hillfort.

Newman. J. 1983. North East and East Kent. Yale University Press.

Pastscape. 2020. Oldbury Camp. Monument Number 409479. Available at https://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=409479.

Rice Holmes. T. 2019. Ancient Britain and the Invasions of Julius Caesar. Good Press.

Spence. K. 1999. The Companion Guide to Kent and Sussex. Boydell & Brewer.

Topley. W., & Bristow. H. W. 1875. The Geology of the Weald: (parts of the Counties of Kent, Surrey, Sussex, and Hants). H.M. Stationary Office.

Thompson. F. H. 1983. Interim Report by Mr. F. H. Thompson, M.C. , M.A., F.S.A., on the Excavations at Oldbury. Archaeologia Cantiana, Vol. 99, pp. 287-289.

Thompson. F. H. 1984. Interim Report by Mr. F. H. Thompson, M.C. , M.A., F.S.A., on the Excavations at Oldbury. Archaeologia Cantiana, Vol. 101, pp. 381-382.

Wacher. J. 2014. The Coming of Rome. Routledge.

Ward Perkins. J. B. 1939. Excavations On Oldbury Hill, Ightham, 1938.    Archaeologia Cantiana, Vol. 51., 1939, pp. 137-181. Available at https://www.kentarchaeology.org.uk/Research/Pub/ArchCant/Vol.051%20-%201939/051-07.pdf.

Wileman. J. 2014. Warfare in Northern Europe Before the Romans: Evidence from Archaeology. Pan & Sword.



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