Beacon Hill, Burghclere, Hampshire


Beacon Hill, Burghclere, Hampshire

:" There two hills in Hampshire called Beacon Hill; the other one is near Warnford.

Infobox Mountain
Name = Beacon Hill
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Elevation = 261 m (856 ft)
Location = Hampshire, England
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Topographic
OS "Landranger" 174
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Grid_ref_UK = SU458575
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Beacon Hill is near the village of Burghclere, in north Hampshire. The hill's name is derived from the fact that it was one of many Beacon Hills in England and beyond. This hill was once the site of the most famous beacon in Hampshire. It is 261 metres high and has one of England's most well known hill forts on its slopes. From there, outstanding views of the surrounding area and much of Hampshire may be obtained. The site is open to the public and managed by Hampshire County Council. It is a Site of special scientific interest and a National Nature Reserve.

Ecology

Beacon Hill is a calcareous grassland chalk downland habitat and as such is scarce and home to some unusual and rare species.

Many chalk grassland slopes in England show the mark of centuries of grazing by sheep, the slopes bearing a stepped appearance formed by a mixture of soil creep and sheep paths. Such erosion is clearly visible on the slopes of Beacon Hill.

Beacon Hill has a range of chalk downland plants including Rock Rose, Wild Thyme, Kidney Vetch and Clustered Bellflower, these flowers in turn provide for rare invertebrates such as "Osmia bicolor", a scarce solitary bee.

Archaeology

The hill fort on the top of the hill has never been systematically excavated, but the land and ditch are sharply defined and well preserved. The Beacon Hill camp, built around 1000 BCE, was probably inhabited by around 2–3000 people according to calculations from similar camps. It is one of a number of hillforts, which are strung out along the north-facing scarp of the Hampshire Downs, overlooking the Kennet valley to the north. When originally built, these structures must have looked spectacular even from a distance as their white chalk ramparts caught the sun. Within the ramparts of the fort numerous hut circles occur, some of which can be seen by the casual visitor. The south-facing entrance is still well defined and a track would have led southwards towards an area of fields which are still apparent at the far end of the hill. Aerial photographs show considerable evidence of ancient field patterns throughout much of the surrounding countryside. On the west side of Sidown Hill (immediately to the west of Beacon Hill) there is an area of well defined field terracing.

The tomb of the famous Egyptologist, George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon lies within the fortifications. It is also where Sir Geoffrey de Havilland made his first successful test flight on 10 September 1910, commemorated by a memorial stone situated in the Seven Barrows field to the south of Beacon Hill.

External links

* [http://www.hants.gov.uk/countryside/beaconhill/ Hampshire County Council Beacon Hill page]
* [http://www.lastrefuge.co.uk/images/html/aerials_UK_historical_sites/hill_forts/pages/AWDS_hill_forts002.htm Aerial photograph]


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